It’s hard to believe that just ten years ago you couldn’t even book an appointment online to visit your doctor and now people are using Google to self-diagnose, which is scary because we all know how inaccurate that can be.
This week I read an article on how surgeons from Mumbai and London donned virtual reality headsets to jointly operate on a bowel cancer patient in London. And it got me thinking about all the other areas that technology has been transforming healthcare.
Robotics is one of the most exciting and fastest growing areas in healthcare and this can be seen in some of the incredible work being undertaken by companies like Open Bionics, who is developing affordable 3D printed bionic hands for amputees. While INF Robotics has created a robot for in-home senior care which is providing on-call access to emergency services around the clock, reminders for crucial appointments and taking medications, and activities such as games and music to keep patients physically and mentally active.
ABI Research forecasts 485 million wearable devices will be in use by 2018. Currently, the vast majority of these are being used as activity trackers, which are monitoring the health status of the user. But did you know that there are also other uses for wearable devices? The Autism Glass Project as such, is helping people with autism recognise basic facial expressions, while Give Vision is helping the visually impaired take control over how images are presented to them. Wearable devices can now even be used to help with your mental health.
Access to healthcare
We’re extremely lucky to live in a part of the world that gives us access to an array of health services. However, those living in rural communities don’t have the same kind of access we do. Thankfully companies like Matternet exist to help those living in remote areas receive much needed medical supplies. The company developed a drone network that enables drones to carry packages of up to 2kg to densely populated areas across Switzerland. Incredibly, a journey of 10km only costs a mere 24 cents.
There has been a constant demand to improve efficiencies in healthcare and 3D printing has greatly aided the industry’s ability to produce products faster and much more cost-effectively. We’re even at a point where experts have developed 3D printed skin for burn victims and researchers are currently looking into ways of 3D printing bones. Though many of these 3D printed medical solutions are still in the experimental phase, maybe one day we’ll all be walking around well into our hundreds with 3D printed hearts, lungs, knees, eyes or ears.