Samantha Donaldson


Telemedicine and Technology in The Healthcare Industry

At the entrance of the “O” Theater within the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada sits a large and glorious metaphorical celebration of the sheer beauty of human anatomy and movement. The Art of Human Movement in Performance is an art show by famous sculptor, Richard MacDonald, and the pieces within it were created to show the beauty and strength of human anatomy when performing art such as dance and acrobatics.

All too often, we tend to forget how incredible our own anatomies truly are and how astonishing the gift of life can be. MacDonald’s goal in portraying this beauty is to not only show how strong and fearless we are as individuals but also portray the fragility of life as well. However, with every aspect of our world comes advancement and, perhaps, this factor of human life may make the message of fragility altogether obsolete within the next few decades alone.

With countless advancements in both technology in the healthcare industry as well as telemedicine for patients, the age expectancy of life which we have grown accustomed to may begin to transition. From there, the individuals at the forefront of these new technologies may be the founders of a better and healthier world with which our future generations will be founded upon. However, with every new advancement comes risk and data breach risk in the healthcare industry remain a major fear for countless individuals. Despite this, the advancements being made could truly impact our world and the security of these advancements in nothing more than an easy-to-fix caveat in the long run.

Surgical Advancements

A surgery can be one of the most comprehensive or simplistic aspects of the healthcare industry in the blink of an eye. The surgeons in charge of ensuring these surgeries run smoothly seem to have the lives of these patients in their hands and, unfortunately, this is not always a good idea. In fact, one out of every 28 patients that undergo surgery die on the table, and this staggering statistic is far from the true extent that human error has on such a complex and delicate operation. Last year alone, multiple major surgical issues arose and, in turn, several hospitals were forced to pay staggering fees for errors in the ways these surgeries were performed. In fact, surgical errors occur more than 4,000 times a year in the United States alone and these patients are either forced to deal with lengthy battles in the court room, or accept that these errors may never be resolved.

One of the most prevalent surgical mishaps of last year came in the form of the way mesothelioma was handled in the healthcare industry. Many individuals became susceptible to asbestos last year. However, these individuals (already facing low survival rates) were scheduled to have the cancerous cells removed and yet, very little of them actually had all of this cancer removed and faced death where reassurance was lackadaisically displayed. Because of this, multiple hospitals faced charges presented by countless mesothelioma lawyers that could have easily been avoided otherwise.

However, advancements not only in surgery itself, but the way surgery is done, seek to change these statistics for the better — and fast. One of the most recent and astonishing discoveries made in the surgical world comes in the form of a transplant that may seem like more of a science fiction film and less of an actual scientific achievement.

The first human head transplant is said to be taking place in December of this year and the outcome, if successful, would be nothing short of a miracle. For Sergio Canavero and his patient, Valery Spiridonov, who is terminally ill, this surgery could not only mean a new life for Spiridonov but a new life for countless other individuals trapped in the incapable bodies they were given at birth or later in life.

Similarly, scientists and individuals in the IT world have also sought to increase surgery precision by using robotics to perform more complex surgeries and take the ‘error’ and ‘human’ out of surgery as a whole. In fact, The Da Vinci System has already been installed in multiple hospitals across the world and its abilities are astonishing. Using a surgeon’s physical commands and performing these tasks in a delicate and much smaller environment, The Da Vinci system is even able to sew the skin back on a grape and, therefore, eliminates the fear involved in fragile surgical procedures indefinitely.

In turn, this effective robot and the advancements in surgery being created this decade are not only excited and interesting, but quite possibly the future we so desperately need and so rightfully deserve.

Treatment Advancements

The way in which diseases are treated is a vital aspect of the healthcare industry and is not something with which healthcare professionals should take lightly. In turn, multiple scientists and healthcare professionals alike have begun to develop multiple ways in order to tackle this part of recovery in a healthy and effective manner.

For instance, one major treatment becoming prevalent in the technology and healthcare industries involves virtual reality and the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Recently, scientists have been collecting data on the manipulation of visual cues in the brain by tricking the minds of stroke patients into believing their limbs have more functionality than they actually do. In turn, the recovery process of these patients is significantly shorter and the outcome of their research states that this form of rehabilitation could help stroke patients gain full control over affected limbs in a matter of years, if not months.

Similarly, with the sheer amount of blood transfusions needed each year, it can be difficult to supply every individual with the blood needed for them to be treated properly. In fact, studies suggest that every minute in the United States, 30 individuals need blood transfusions and the numbers are far from decreasing. Therefore, scientists have worked to find a way to sustain this demand with a supply that didn’t affect anyone whatsoever. In turn, a breakthrough in the way we look at blood as a whole may be able to finally allow us to mass-produce artificial blood to supply these individuals with their proper blood type without having to demand this blood from healthy individuals in the process.

Lastly, another treatment changing the way we handle disease and disability comes in the form of a small, rubber glove and the tech involved within it. The Exo Glove is a wearable soft robot that controls the weakened fingers of disabled individuals by responding to the motions of the tendons within the wrist. This technology could mean a massive increase in mobility for the disabled and, in turn, help these individuals deal with serious life changes after becoming disabled, if the event occurs later in life, as well.

The recovery and rehabilitation as well as the treatment of patients in the healthcare world is an incredibly important and tedious endeavor. However, by utilizing modern technology to their benefit and learning to transform technology into a helpful tool which can advance treatment and recovery altogether, these healthcare professionals will be able to create a more effective and precise environment. In turn, these patients will be able to recover quicker and in a less damaging manner overall.

Profession Advancements

Although it is fairly clear how helpful these technological advancements have been for patients, the ability to assist and advance the healthcare industry and its various members is just as impressive. In fact, scientists recently discovered a far more effective way to teach new surgeons and healthcare students how to operate on individuals using 3D printed organs that actually bleed and feel extremely similar to the organs within the human body. By practicing on more realistic specimens, these individuals will be prepared in a much more comprehensive and realistic manner and, in turn, more lives will be saved due to an acknowledgment of mistakes in training rather than in actual situations.

Similarly, multiple companies have developed apps and software that specifically assists healthcare students throughout their courses and program in order to ensure that they not only exceed but are given as many opportunities as is possible to afford them in the process. In turn, these individuals are able to not only do better in their courses but also be even further prepared when the time comes to perform these processes they are currently learning.

For instance, as a pharmacy technician, your job relies on your ability to not only memorize countless different pharmaceuticals but also be able to recognize which medications perform particular tasks in the process of helping an individual recover. Every year, countless pharmaceutical errors lead to death and that is why these kinds of applications which help these young pharmacy techs are so important. In fact, these go-to mobile apps for pharmacy technicians may be able to not only help these students to enter a field they enjoy working within but also save countless lives from the occasional human error in the process.

Preventative Advancements

Preventative healthcare is a major component in the patient care spectrum. However, it can often be hard for the medical staff of any facility to be able to monitor their patients as they perform their everyday life tasks. Therefore, the technology that particular companies put in place to protect life and health matter all the more.

For example, although it is still smart to consider a long-term disability insurance policy and ensure that you are safe during any and all situations, these policies are for the aftermath of disaster and the prevention of disaster is what the healthcare industry hopes to achieve more so. On top of this, not everyone plans to get life insurance at an early age and chooses to wait until they are slightly older before making these kinds of decisions. Therefore, the choices particular companies, specifically in the fitness and transportation industries, make can quite literally mean life or death for their consumers.

In the last few years, in particular, the inclusion of actual scientific and health-oriented research in daily life has become more and more prevalent. In turn, businesses that typically supplied us with tools for everyday life such as cars and exercise equipment began to rely on the research and professional opinions of various individuals in the healthcare industry making a safer tomorrow starting today.

For instance, some of the most popular wearable tech nowadays will not only monitor your heart rate but will also monitor your sleep patterns, your exercise routines, weight loss, food intake, calorie burning, and even your emotions. These devices can then be used to display invaluable information to the patient’s practitioner and help them to make decisions based on the future health of their patients in a much more informed manner.

Similarly, with over 1.3 million people dying in road crashes yearly, healthcare professionals have teamed up with multiple car companies to create cars that are not only safe from deadly crashes but also able to avoid these crashes altogether by removing the basic human error elements of these Automotives. By creating self-driving cars, these companies are able to ensure that the common mistakes these individuals might make when driving for elongated periods of time are avoided. In fact, autonomous vehicles will be coming to Texas in the next few months alone and, in turn, the rate of accidents per year is said to drop along with it.

By providing preventative measures through technology, healthcare professionals are not only providing care without even being there but also ensuring the safety of millions of individuals across the world in the process.

In the end, the healthcare industry and the way technology perfectly provides for it time and time again is merely the precipice of a much larger and more important aspect of our modern society. The ability to transform technology into an easy-to-use means for the common consumer not only increases the profits within our economy, but also ensures that the progress we make is in the right direction and truly making a difference in the process. In turn, the world will finally be able to progress and expand its reaches within the health industry and the happiness and life expectancy of the human race will finally increases as it should. With all of this said, I suppose it is safe to say, ‘an Apple product a day keeps the doctor away’.

More by Samantha Donaldson

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