Healthcare is one of the most rapidly developing sectors in our industry today. Just about a 100 years ago the average life expectancy was around 34.1years. Today as the technology advances the average life expectancy has doubled. Healthcare and technology have always gone hand in hand. It is a great journey that mankind has gone through, and has seen tremendous progress in this avenue.
WHO(World Health Organization) says that HealthTech is the application of the knowledge and skill in the form of devices, procedures, systems, medicine and vaccine development to solve a health problem and improve quality of life.
Right now, even while you are reading this, your cells are dying, regenerating, changing, cleansing and developing. We have always been a society who has been “cure” driven rather than “prevention.” But the times are changing; with a huge disruption in the healthcare industry we are shifting towards a prevention-based society.
One of the major things that is helping us to make this shift are the genomic studies. In the past 2 decades genomics has drastically and rapidly improved and can be accessed by the masses. WAIT A SECOND!!
What is Genomics?
A ‘genome’ can be defined as a complete set of the DNA of a particular species. The genomic studies focus on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes.
Too many heavy words, aren’t they?
Let us make it simple for you. We all know that not all the medicines work in the same way for every individual. Since the very beginning we have been using generic medicines and frankly, most of the time they do more harm than good.
When we sign up for a genomic test, we get to know all about how every fibre of our being is programmed. The genomic reports help us by diagnosing a particular disease earlier which significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. Not only that, it can also detect a disease long before symptoms present themselves. Genomics also help us to understand why a specific drug does not affect one’s body on the basis of which doctors can easily recommend a different drug for the same purpose. It can also show us some of the diseases that we can be susceptible to and then take the vaccines and shots accordingly to prevent it.
Speaking of vaccines, do you know how technology has helped us to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19? Let me show you all a picture to understand it better:
Robotics and healthcare
The healthcare industry has already started using robotics to automate the processes, making them more efficient and reliable. The concept of prosthetics in medicine was introduced as early as 1997, and within a decade we have moved quite rapidly. Today instead of prosthetics we have ventured into ‘robotic-prosthetics.’ The Defense Advanced Research Agency has developed a robotic-prosthetic arm called “The LUKE Arm.” LUKE stands for ‘Life Under Kinetic Evolution.’ It is capable of two-way communication with our brain and the machine itself! Isn’t that the coolest thing to exist so far?? A machine being able to communicate to your brain and vice-versa!!
Are robots the future of surgery?
Sure, everyone is excited about the new ‘5G’ internet speed that is going to be a huge upgrade to the existing ‘4G.’ What if we tell you that this is not only beneficial for the Telecom industry, but also for the medical field??
Yes, the future of operations and surgeries are with robots. In 2020 itself, more than 2 Lakh patients have gone through robot assisted surgeries. Not only robot assisted surgeries, but now remote real time surgery is possible. Let me explain what I mean exactly by that. Do you remember when you used to try and drive your remote-controlled car from one room while the car was in the other? This is exactly how surgeries will be performed from now on. Remote real time surgery means that the doctor can be in a different corner of the world but will be able to operate on a patient from thousands of kilometers away! All of this seems like a far-fetched dream but China has already performed this kind of a surgery on a human while the doctor was 3000km away from the hospital. All of this is possible because of ‘5G.’ The ‘5G’ technology helps the doctor to perform the surgery in real time without any kind of delays. This technological advancement is a life saver for the whole human civilization.
Are AI & IoT really useful for HealthTech?
Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are 2 of the most complimenting technologies that we are surrounded by today. The use of both of these together are potentially considered the biggest disruptors of the healthcare industry.
AI has also changed the insurance industry completely. Now with the help of AI you no longer have to wait 2-3 days for your claim to be approved. When coupled with deep learning & ML one can get suggestions for their health insurance according to their specific lifestyle. With IoT coming into play it brings in the ability to process huge swamps of data and within the healthcare sector. This is important because in today’s scenario the healthcare expenses are getting higher, the number of patients who suffer from chronic diseases is 4 out of 5 and most importantly the number of people above the age of 65 are increasing.
IoT has the ability to completely change how our current healthcare system works. This will lead to decreased expenses and an improved patient care. Here are some quick points where in IoT can help tremendously:
Electronic Health Records - Provide accurate and up-to date information about a patient.
Patient comfort and safety – Use of smart beds, automatic medication dispenser and smart sensors for doctors to detect abnormalities.
Booking appointments – This process as well as paying of bills online would reduce costs and save many hours of administrative work.
“mHealth” and everything about it.
We all know that Apple has come up with a new Apple Watch which helps you to know what your blood oxygen levels are. They did this keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic. The devices that we can use to track our personal health come under the umbrella of “mHealth.”
mHealth is nothing but the use of mobile phones and other wireless devices in the healthcare system. There are about 200,000 health related apps on the app store and about 200 new apps are added almost everyday. mHealth is really growing very fast and helping to save a lot of lives. Nowadays you don’t even need to go to a hospital to get your ECG or heart rate checked. A smartwatch on your wrist and all your health data will be on your finger-tips.
The above graph shows us that we are slowly moving towards mHealth, AI and IoT. A lot of money is being invested into it. All these advancements in healthcare have drastically improved the quality and the expectancy of life. The ongoing advancements like 3-D printing of organs and others are going to change the way humans survive completely. With such advancement comes threat too. We all, as responsible citizens, should not misuse what we have created for ourselves. The face of humanity has seen a lot of bad days due to the poor healthcare system, but now is the time that we will blossom and cherish our loved ones for a long, long time to come.