5 Emerging Technologies Impacting Our Health
Emerging technologies have dramatically changed the world we live in many different ways. Most notably, technology has impacted how we communicate, how we search for information and how we shop for the things we need. In recent years, new tech has also become a game-changer in the healthcare industry. Here is a look at 5 cool emerging technologies that are impacting our health today.
1 – Software in Healthcare
There are currently 1.5-million medical devices currently in use around the world. Of those, according to the World Health Organization, there are over 10,000 different types. These medical devices range from the somewhat simple pieces of medical equipment such as stethoscopes right on up to the more complex pieces of machinery like an MRI machine.
The amount of software that is used in and around medical devices has increased in the past 40 years with the trend spiking even higher in the past two decades. This can be attributed to the “Internet of things” (IoT) and the advent of such integrated components such as AI, big data, smartphones, wireless connectivity and so on.
With the impact of software in the delivery of healthcare services, there has been a development of sophisticated medical devices. Medical device software is now available in three primary sub-classes:
- Software as a medical device (SaaMD): This serves as a medical product in and of itself.
- Software in a medical device (SiMD): This is software that is part of a medical product. An example would be implanted software in a piece of medical equipment.
- Software as an accessory to a medical device: General purpose software that is not a medical product by itself
According to Orthogonal, software, regardless of the format, continues to change the face of healthcare services.
2 – Blockchain in Healthcare
Blockchain is a decentralized system where transactional or historical records can be stored, recorded and shared through a peer-to-peer network. The network is made up of a series of personal computers that are called nodes. It is a database of massive size that is a collection of continuously updated, time-stamped and encrypted virtual records.
Each unit of the virtual digital ledger is called a block. The blocks of the virtual ledger are linked together (as in a chain) with cryptography in the order they were created. The nodes are bound together by crypto technology in such a way that they are completely immutable. This means that one of the most secure technologies currently in use by man is blockchain.
Blockchain works by having a new block created by a member of the chain. The block gets broadcast throughout the network and after it has been noted as existing by all the computers in the network, the new block or a change to an existing block gets added to the chain. Once all the computers approve the addition or change it becomes irreversible.
3 – Wearable Devices in Healthcare
You are already surrounded by wearable devices.
You may already own a few of them without knowing that they are considered as wearable devices.
These are the items that you would keep on your person to monitor and track the progress you are making with your personal fitness goals. A fine example of a wearable device is a pedometer (here’s a great guide). It tracks walking and running distance as well as many other features to help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your health.
4 – Big Data in Healthcare
Big data is a large amount of complex data that can be structured or unstructured, which can be used to reveal insights and solve business issues.
While that may sound simple, how big data fishes out the answers could not be accomplished with conventional analytics or software. The use of artificial intelligence produces results faster than real-time which assists in many different medical and healthcare applications.
Big data has been responsible for assisting in the discovery and development of new drugs, as an example. It can also be used to leverage operational data to increase workforce productivity and can use healthcare financial data to make hospitals, clinics and healthcare organizations more cost-effective.
5 – Virtual Reality in Healthcare
You may have already heard of virtual reality and believe it or not, it has a greater impact in the real world than being just in movies or for gamers. VR is much more than a fad and is now making its way into the healthcare industry in a very big way. Stats point to over 240 hospitals in the US currently using virtual reality to assist in many ways ranging from health-related procedures to assisting patients in visualizing and understanding treatment plans.
The VR market is expected to reach $51.1-billion in the healthcare industry by 2025. According to HCW, it is currently being embraced by healthcare because of how virtual reality enhances such things as skills training, phobia treatment, and surgery simulation. Virtual reality and augmented reality are both going to continue to be game-changing technologies in the healthcare industry as we are just beginning to understand the many possibilities.
It may be hard to believe that technology has spun so fast in the past few decades that it would become such an important component in today’s healthcare industry. But when you take a closer look it becomes easier to understand that the addition of various types of new technology has improved many aspects of the delivery of healthcare services.
From software as a medical device and blockchain to wearable devices, big data, and virtual reality, there is a lot to be excited about regarding the positive changes in the healthcare industry. With technology continuing to move forward in giant leaps and bounds, there is no telling what the future holds regarding technology in healthcare but one thing is for certain, the market for it is going to keep growing.