New and disruptive technologies are having a monumental impact on medical machines and significantly improving health care. These innovations are bringing substantial patient benefits in health care delivery and efficiency to the industry. And no one is more equipped to help you and your business catch the wave of these medical machine trends than OMNIA Partners and our robust portfolio of world-class suppliers.
The Top Trends in Medical Machines
Bringing “Smart” Machines to Medicine
There is a remarkable effort underway to engineer a new generation of “smart” medical equipment that blends scanning with interpretation, monitoring with treatment, and merges data from disparate devices into a common, readily interpretable stream. The goal is to help clinicians better monitor patients’ health in real-time and evaluate an ever-increasing stack of clinical information, thereby enabling the most informed decisions possible. A key frontier for designing and deploying such intelligent systems is the intensive care unit (ICU), where clinicians treat patients with complicated, life-threatening conditions. The ICU is filled with an array of life-saving equipment, including monitors, pumps, ventilators, and drug infusers. Smart technology enables these devices to better talk to one another and churn out data at an impressive rate, producing thousands of data points a day for a single patient.
Melding Mind with Machine
Scientists are merging the human mind with medical machines through computers and algorithms that can eavesdrop on the brain’s signals and then translate the information into actions, like typing words on a digital keyboard or moving a robotic arm. Such brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have been previously regulated to sci-fi movies, but are now rapidly evolving into real-world devices, propelled by artificial intelligence that can quickly decode and anticipate the brain’s complex, dynamic activity. The technology holds remarkable promise for patients suffering from a range of devastating neurological diseases or injuries. That means people with paralysis could regain the power of movement, and patients with conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or locked-in syndrome could communicate meaningfully with loved ones.
The digital acquisition of radiological images has had wide-reaching effects in medicine. It is now possible for computers to scrutinize these images for subtle variations and textures that human eyes simply cannot discern. That means automated methods for reading and interpreting CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays are within reach, giving radiologists new tools to systematically quantify image features and use them to help understand disease biology and predict outcomes. Cancer researchers are actively evaluating the application of AI in quantitative imaging to predict a tumor’s pathogenicity, genetic makeup, or treatment response. Accurately diagnosing the disease remains a significant challenge and one brought into stark reality by the risks patients face from both under and over-treatment. But we’re now on our way to predicting the aggressiveness of prostate tumors, for example, directly from a radiological image rather than a biopsy. This means faster, more accurate prognoses for patients as well as a better quality of life.
Using EHRs to Predict Disease Risk
A holy grail of modern medicine is to make health care better at detecting declines in patients’ health as early as possible and delivering more powerful, molecularly-honed, and personalized treatments that can halt, or even reverse, the course of disease. This is coming to fruition with the rise of electronic health record (EHR) systems over the last decade as hospitals capture individuals’ medical information in a digital format to help streamline and improve the business aspects of health care, including decreasing cost, increasing efficiency, and improving the quality and safety of care. Digital EHRs are now enabling a new wave of biomedical and clinical research, generating new knowledge to improve clinical decision-making and helping to realize the goals of precision medicine.
Improving Health Through Personal Devices
Digital devices permeate our lives. For most of our waking hours, we sport mini-computers strapped to our wrists or tucked into a pocket. The best byproduct of this reality is that we are also leveraging these digital companions to make us healthier. For example, could these devises possibly warn us of an impending heart attack, or predict the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease? That’s precisely the goal of a new wave of research that seeks to harness the vast amounts of data that are collected passively by wearable devices throughout the day. We can now answer questions like -- how often does an individual stand up and move around? And how far does she typically walk and for how long? Researchers then turn to different forms of artificial intelligence to sort through this data to help monitor patients’ health over time and head off disease before it arrives.
Seeing Much More Clearly
In medicine, an image on a computer screen is more than just a picture; it is millions, even billions of data points that can be systematically scrutinized and mined for connections to health and disease. Understanding how these data points vary within and between images — and patients — stretches the limits of human cognition. Indeed, medical images are acquired by clinicians in fields across the medical spectrum, including radiology, pathology, dermatology, ophthalmology, as well as some surgical specialties. Artificial Intelligence is transforming how these digital images are analyzed and interpreted in various spheres of health care. With advances in computer vision and machine learning technology, a new era of automated disease detection is dawning, providing clinicians with tools to more rapidly and accurately diagnose, characterize, and predict the course of disease.