From robot avatars to needle-free treatment for diabetics, there are a number of new technological developments on the horizon in the field of healthcare and medicine. While some of them may seem more at home in an episode of Star Trek, here are a few of the more futuristic and groundbreaking developments that are being implemented in hospitals around the country.
A joint venture between iRobot and In Touch Health, the ‘RP Vita as its officially known has already been deployed in seven hospitals, including Columbus, Ohio. While it sounds the stuff of science fiction, the RP Vita is essentially a robotic ‘avatar’ that doctors can program to visit patients around the hospital.
It includes a video screen to allow face-to-face communication with the patient, and even allows doctors to access huge amounts of medical resources on the fly while dealing with the patient from a remote location. This enables doctors to give check ups from entirely different countries should the need arise, which means that should a patient need a specialist opinion from for example, India or China, then the avatar will make the process much quicker, which could of course have positive benefits for the patient. In order to get around, the robot has numerous sensors to avoid other personnel and obstacles, and can even plot alternative and faster routes around the hospital.
Electronic pain relief
Imagine being able to simply click a button and effectively ‘turn your headache off.’ Once again, it sounds like something from a futuristic vision of a sci-fi novel, but we could be seeing such a solution implemented very soon. Autonomic Technologies are developing an implantable neurostimulator, which will be placed in a patients gums. Once in place, if the patient has a headache they simply activate the implant via a remote control.
There are a number of different settings that can be defined by a doctor depending on the patients requirements, so long term sufferers of headaches may not need to go through any surgical procedures or nerve resection, which is often irreversible. The implant also offers an alternative to medications, meaning the patient won’t have to worry about any potential side effects or lifestyle difficulties that long term medications can sometimes cause.
The implant is just one of a number of other new technologies that are on the horizon. According to licensedprescriptions.com, there are also other new possibilities for diagnosing cancer without biopsy, and advances in open heart surgery, all of which could revolutionize the healthcare we experience.
Being a diabetic requires a lot of self care, including of course, the need to inject insulin regularly. Most diabetics also have to have injections on an ongoing basis in order to check blood glucose levels, and combined with insulin shots, can mean a lot of injections overall. In addition to being painful, constant, multiple injections also increase the risk of infection, which can be an additional problem to deal with. However, Echo Therapeutics, a Philadelphia based company, is developing a solution in the form of needle free drug delivery and monitoring.
The implications of this technology go far beyond helping diabetics of course, meaning that many very stressful and painful injections could be replaced by a completely painless alternative, and perhaps eliminate the need for a patients skin to be broken at all. Of course, for diabetics and other patients that have to have blood samples or self administer injections regularly, this will improve quality of life drastically.
Essentially, the device works by increasing the skins permeation to allow both analysis from the patients body and the delivery of drugs and medication. The device can be attached much like a patch or plaster, and can even be monitored remotely as it is fully wireless enabled. With advancements like this and the above examples not far off, we could all be experiencing the benefits of a much more effective, pain free and pleasant healthcare system in the very near future indeed.