Top 5 Medical Technology Advances

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One sweeping change, according to industry observers, is the “convergence” of consumer-focused technology into the once-rarified world of device design. According to Jim Pomager, executive editor of Med Device Online, increased life expectancy will fuel significant increases in the incidence of age-related conditions such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, pulmonary disorders, and cancer. Wireless technologies capable of detecting and treating disease at its earliest stages will become front-line defences against these leading causes of death, he said, while devices that help patients manage their chronic conditions more effectively will dramatically improve their quality of life while reducing the demand for more advanced treatments. Wearable or unobtrusive monitors for consumers that include a variety of sensors and communications devices.

As technology drives the rate of progress in biomedical research and healthcare, the traditional divide between engineering and medical science becomes increasingly blurred. And, as medical machines and the computers that power them get smaller, faster, and smarter, the medical device industry makes medical practise easier for doctors, more effective for patients, and less expensive for the entire healthcare system.

Cancer Nanotherapy

Nanotechnology is meeting medical science’s need for more precise treatments that are less invasive, less expensive, and easier to administer than traditional methods. This translates to improved patient outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and greater access to healthcare services in underserved areas of the world.

Brain-Machine Interfaces

President Obama called for a renewed focus on the development of more advanced artificial limbs and other prosthetic devices in his 2015 State of the Union Address. At least 100,000 Americans have had their upper arms amputated, and another 6 million are paralysed. As a result, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has increased its efforts to boost performance while lowering the six-figure price tag of existing devices that translate a user’s neural signals into computer-controlled limb movements. Since their highly publicised debut in 2012, these brain-machine interface (BMI) technologies have advanced rapidly. Following the FDA’s approval of DARPA’s design, other organisations have begun clinical trials of newer devices designed for safe use at home rather than under the supervision of laboratory personnel.

New Take on a Classic Tool

The humble stethoscope is making a comeback and will soon be available on a smartphone near you. Today’s arsenal of sophisticated electronic diagnostic tools has surpassed this staple of every child’s toy doctor kit. Of course, doctors and nurses still monitor a patient’s heart and lung function, but it is often easier and more conclusive to order x-rays, electrocardiograms, or other, more advanced tests. The Eko Core (Eko Devices, Berkeley, CA) attaches to an analogue stethoscope to provide seamless analogue and digital sound, which it transmits via Bluetooth to the cloud, from which a doctor can download it to a smartphone.

Wireless Wonders

For decades, the pulse oximeter has been one of the most widely used devices for hospital patient monitoring. For decades, these small devices have been clipped to a patient’s fingertip to measure levels of oxygen saturation in the blood – a critical measurement for anaesthetized hospital patients during surgery and intensive care. The global market for these devices was on track to reach $1.3 billion in 2018, with sales of home monitoring devices on the rise. Remote monitoring of pulse oximetry measurements is a valuable way for doctors to keep in touch with their patients without the hassle of a clinic visit for conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, and a variety of cardiovascular diseases.

Genome Editing

CRISPR (for clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat) technology has emerged as a life sciences disruptor at breakneck speed. It’s been dubbed the “discovery of the century.” Many science journalists incorrectly predicted that the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry would be awarded to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuel Charpentier, two of the scientists credited with its meteoric rise, only three years after their 2012 publication revealing the ease and utility of CRISPR for gene editing.

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