Never before have we had so much technology at our fingertips. We can be using a mobile device, listening to music on our Bluetooth headphones and having our heartrate monitored by a wearable fitness tracker all at the same time!
Technology has had a significant impact on many industries over the last 10 or 20 years, transforming some while disrupting others, but what can we expect when it comes to healthcare and medical science?
Here are 5 of the most interesting technologies that are expected to revolutionise the healthcare industry during the 2020s:
Virtual Reality – With benefits for both patients and medical professionals, the immersive experience offered by Virtual Reality (VR) unlocks many exciting and unique possibilities. Surgeons will be able to use VR headsets while operating to see a more precise 3D image of internal organs and their surroundings, while the therapeutic and rehabilitative potential is far-reaching for those recovering from significant injuries.
Artificial Intelligence – Despite striking fear into the hearts of many science-fiction fans, when used for the power of good artificial intelligence (AI) can help us to go beyond our human limitations. For example, Google Health has been working on an AI system that outperforms human radiologists in diagnosing lung cancer, and there are algorithms being developed that can quickly read through millions of scientific research papers to find previously overlooked links between drugs and diseases.
5G – Allowing more than 1 gigabit of data to be downloaded every second, 5G will allow for up to 100 times faster downloads than currently available 4G services. This will allow medical staff to communicate faster, monitor patients more effectively and respond to emergencies faster. Emergency service vehicles will be able to live-stream critical data to A&E before the patient arrives, surgical robots will be able to operate wirelessly with more computational power, and allow for instant data-sharing capability between hospitals.
3D Printing – The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to 3D printing and healthcare. In addition to building medical tools and prosthetics, 3D printing can also be used to create organs and tissues for lifesaving transplants. It may even be possible for patients to print their own personalised medications and allow those with rare conditions access to drugs that would otherwise be unaffordable on such a small-scale.
Drones – In its recent ‘Flight Forward’ trial program, UPS successfully experimented with autonomous drone deliveries of critical medical equipment between two branches of a hospital in North Carolina. Despite only travelling a distance of 150 yards, this shows huge potential when it comes to drone-delivered medical supplies, such as medication, transfusable blood and even organs.
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