ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

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3 Next Big Tech Things In The Healthcare Industry

Spatial computing, quantum sensing, virtual patients

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

During the last 20 years, the World has faced such pace of a technological growth the society has never experienced before. In 2020, the World Economic Forum identified technologies that not only will emerge but also have the greatest potential to positively transform our society on a global scale. One of the industries that are getting a lot of interest and attention at the current moment is the medical technology industry.

According to Statista (2020), the total global MedTech industry size approximately is worth half a trillion U.S. dollars. Robot-assisted surgeries and Medical AI are already considered as crucial industry needs as it brings more precise and cost-efficient surgical procedures. This shows how far the MedTech has come only during the last two decades.

Here are the 3 most exciting tech innovations that have potentially many interesting applications, including the Healthcare industry.

Spatial Computing

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The concept of Spatial Computing was firstly defined in 2003 as “human interaction with the machine in which the machine retains and manipulates referents to real objects and spaces.”

Here, Corinna E. Lathan and Geoffrey Ling (2020) from Scientific American set up a good example of Martha.

Situation: Martha is a hypothetical lady living independently and using a wheelchair.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

All the objects in her home are digitally catalogued and the sensors/ devices that control all of these objects are internet-enabled. The digital map of her home has already been merged with the object map. What does it mean in practice?

  • The lights switch on and off depending on Martha’s movement across her flat.
  • The temperature of her flat and separate rooms also adjusts to her movement
  • If the cat crosses Martha’s path, her chair slows down
  • If Martha goes to the kitchen, the table moves accordingly to give her better access to the fridge.

This hypothetical situation is a good example of a spatial computing application for both Smart Home and the Healthcare industries.

Scientific American (2020) proposed another example of a possible scenario from a not so distant future that includes a smarter medical facility.

Situation: A paramedic team is assigned to an apartment to help a patient who might need emergency surgery.

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash
  • The system sends the patient’s electronic health records and real-time updates to both the paramedics’ mobile devices and to the emergency department.
  • The computer also analyses the situation of the road and chooses the faster driving route.
  • The traffic lights automatically turn red to hold cars in order to let the ambulance reach the hospital as fast as possible.
  • In cases like that, every second might be crucial. Therefore, the building’s entry doors are already opened, and the elevator is already in position.
  • While the medics hurry to deliver the patient into the surgery room, the objects that are on the way move out. The system still guides the paramedics via the quickest route to the operating room.
  • A surgical team uses spatial computing and augmented reality to map out the entire operating room and plan a surgical path through the patient’s body.

Virtual Patients

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

No, it’s neither Virtual Doctors nor Medical apps. The concept of Virtual Patients imagines that in some cases computers could replace patients. World Economic Forum believes that if virtual humans could have replaced real people in some stages of a coronavirus vaccine trial, it could have sped the development of a preventive tool and slowed down pandemic.

The term virtual patient describes an interactive computer simulation that is widely used in health care education. There are many benefits of testing medical drugs on virtual organs or bodies. The system can be used at the beginning stages of research and trials. The system will be able to predict how a real person would respond to different therapies, reducing the need for human volunteers.

The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is already using computer stimulations to replace human volunteers for evaluating the new mammography systems.

Quantum Sensing

The image is courtesy of cottonbro via Pexels

According to the Globe-News Wire report (2021), the global market of quantum sensors is estimated to reach around $711.3 million by 2027. As it’s said in the same report, in 2020, despite the global COVID-19 crisis, the global quantum sensors industry is worth approximately $397.3 million.

This means that in the coming years, Quantum Sensing will not only be a buzzword but also one of the innovations that will transform many sectors, including the Healthcare one.

Since the size of the quantum sensor is somewhat similar to a sugar cube, it can be practical in many cases, like being able to predict volcanic eruptions (not healthcare-related) to mapping and monitoring brain activity in the smallest detail during daily life.

This research field of quantum sensing is very wide and transformative. In the future, it will have many application areas. According to industry analysts, in the next 3–5 years, quantum sensors will not be a new exciting innovation on the medical market, but also it will be one of the major trends.

How quantum sensors can be used in the Healthcare sector?

According to the World Health Organization, by 2035 there will be a worldwide shortage of nearly 13 million healthcare workers. However, according to this healthcare report made by HPE, together with this decline in the number of trained medical workers, there will be a massive rise of data-enabled connected medical devices.

In recent years, we’ve already seen how technologies like wearables, telehealthcare, and robotics have made healthcare more accessible and efficient for both doctors and patients. However, it is important to note that the goal of MedTech is not to replace human doctors but to improve the accessibility and efficiency of the global healthcare industry.

‘The reality is that humans need to be able to work with machines more and more, not that machines need to work completely without humans’ —

Alex Castrounis: ‘AI for People and Business’, 2019

Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

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