Earlier the global healthcare system comprised only the health practices, approaches, knowledge, and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral-based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques, and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being. But today, healthcare is not only about treating diseases, but it has also become a comprehensive field where diseases are prevented, healthy lifestyles are promoted, the cure for diseases are available, cost-effective methods are used, healthcare providers are becoming more customer-centric. In recent times, there have been some advantageous medical advances that are creating a clear path to a bright future of healthcare.
Some of the various medical advances are:
Generally, our symptoms are diagnosed by well-trained physicians and doctors, but sometimes the medical case remains unsolved due to its unfamiliar nature. During such times, you can submit your symptoms to the crowd-sourced CrowdMed website. Here, “Medical Detectives” track incoming cases and, if they feel they can offer insight, they’ll jump in to try and make or confirm the diagnosis. If a detective makes the right call, he or she may get a cash reward. The successful detective gets to keep the reward or donate it to a charity that funds treatment for patients in need. The patient uses the diagnosis to seek treatment. Submitting a case is free and confidential and becoming a Medical Detective is also free.
This community was founded in 2004 by three MIT engineers, where an online group of fellow patients encompassing numerous diseases and disorders joins others in the same situation and interact to share advice, new treatments, novel trials, recent research, and plain old empathy. The site tracks every approach used by community members, assigns each a result including positive or negative aspects and shares those results with medical organizations and health providers to help them improve their delivery of care.
Watson is a cognitive system, where doctors can speak in a natural voice to it about a patient’s symptoms, then the supercomputer searches through all the available patient data across the globe, and related medical research and clinical findings. After it shifts its terabytes, the computer suggests diagnoses and treatments. IBM says the goal for Watson is to exceed the diagnostic success rate of mere mortals — where, in the U.S., approximately 1 in 5 diagnoses are wrong or incomplete, and about 1.5 million people are injured by medication errors each year.
The rapidly evolving field of 3-D printing is just what the world needs. These CAD-like abilities and can spray almost any material, including biomaterials, through specialized nozzles to build incredibly complex three-dimensional objects. Using these techniques, 3-D development of various types of bones and organs. For eg., Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have grown an artificial ear from animal tissue and are working on doing the same with human tissue.
Many apps that have been developed in recent times and more such creative apps are developing to facilitate the healthcare to the patients directly via a simple click on their smartphone. In 2012, to pick a recent example, the FDA cleared an iPhone app that lets your doctor take a remote EKG just about anywhere there’s a suitable connection. Others currently in the market help radiologists decipher medical images and let people track suspicious moles for signs of unwanted change. One app, called CellScope, takes a picture of your child’s inner ear, shoots it over to your family doctor, and lets them decide.
When your doctors aren’t sure what your particular symptoms mean. They can simply use these sensors called ‘biohackers’ that will be either sewn into your clothing or implanted in your body. Others will report on your sleep patterns, hydration levels, urine composition, stress hormones and almost anything else that can be measured. The goal, according to researchers working in this field, is to help people take steps before a problem arises, or quickly diagnosis it when one does.
The Beating Battery
Technology being developed at the University of Arizona and the University of Illinois will enable implanted devices, to harness electricity from the beating heart itself. Researchers are creating nanogenerators that convert the mechanical energy of a heartbeat into electrical energy. This is a great leap forward in medical advances.
The Chinese Containers
Chinese are taking the initiative to use shipping containers to create a kind of hospital in a box. Each hospital is made up of 10 shipping containers, with rooms for clinics, pharmacies, operating theaters, diagnostic equipment, and public health services. Although the first container hospitals are designated for several countries in Africa, the idea is applicable worldwide. It will soon be done in any rural community where the closest health care facility is too distant to be convenient, even accessible.