Focus on specialties- What does the future look like?
9 Jul 2020 | Anne Marie Fogarty
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General Practitioners (GPs) only get a short period to see patients and make a diagnosis so all the information they can get will aid diagnosis.
What gadgets look set to invade General Practice?
Some of the most talked-about futuristic technologies include:
- Wearable sensors and devices such as wristbands, fit bits, and so on that would stream data to the doctor’s smartphone. That data would tell the doctor
when vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate are abnormally low or high, and thus give GPs the information they require to provide care.
- Digital health assistants and medical chatbots – Patients could ask chatbots more straightforward questions and thus ease the workload on the GP. The NHS partnered with Babylon Health in 2017 and has carried out over 7000,000 digital consultations so far.
Moving from the community into the acute setting, Emergency Medicine too will see growth within digital health.
Emergency medicine will see significant changes and advances, such as:
- Medical drones have potential in faster transportation of drugs, vaccines, and medical aids. AED-carrying drones (the drone transports the defibrillation machine to the patient suffering a heart attack) have been tested in Stockholm with positive results. The main advantage of these drones is time-saving capacity. They get to the patient faster than an average ambulance call out.
- Making patients the point of care- handheld devices and sensors such as the AliveCor and Viatom Checkme Pro are making the patient the point of care. These devices can test for vital signs and check heart rate and ECG through the patient’s fingertips or when placed on their chest. These portable devices that support diagnostics on the move truly are an emerging genius.
- Cars may also become the point of care in the future, and many developers are at present gearing up cars that have biometric sensors in them that would keep track of the driver’s health. Car companies such as Ferrari, Ford and others are researching the possibility of biometrics that would monitor patients heart rate from placing their hands on the steering wheel, or seat belts monitoring respiratory rate.
- Surgical Robots are not exactly futuristic; they are already used in surgeries across the UK, 115 to be exact are in operation in Britain presently. 1
A well-known surgical robot is the da Vinci Surgical System which is over15 years old- not exactly novel, but its use in surgical theatres across the UK is becoming widespread. The main advantage to robotic surgeons appears to be the level of finer precision, while the human surgeon remains in full control.
- Augmented and wireless surgeries in theatre are also becoming a more common occurrence. Companies like Osso VR and ImmersiveTouch offer virtual reality solutions to train surgeons and to polish their skills.
- The coming of 5G will advance surgery hugely. This is both exciting and advantageous. These are essentials for telesurgery to succeed. Chinese scientists have reportedly used 5G to operate remotely in trials and advocate the potential behind a well-structured fast 5G ability. Such an advantage includes the ability to have expert surgeons operate from anywhere in the world remotely, therefore, saving time in vital lifesaving surgeries.
- 3D bio-printing may reduce transplant-related complications. 3D bio-printing of organs and tissues will be a big issue in the future. 3D bio-printing is when cells are layered on top of each other that creates an artificial living tissue. As it contains cells from the transplant patient, the chances of rejection are eliminated, and this rids the need for life-long immunosuppressant medication.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) can analyse a large amount of data rapidly and detect anomalies. This would allow for quick and accurate diagnostics. Other uses of AI may include decreasing the likelihood of surgical errors, support with the administration of surgery, such as scheduling and requesting equipment, and in the monitoring of perioperative patients. Of course, issues relating to data protection would need addressing.
Significant developments in medical and surgical specialities will include:
Teleconsultations- perhaps this is one of the most prominent and eminent developments to take off primarily due to the current pandemic of COVID-19. While face-to-face consultations will continue, video-consults from your own home will rapidly become quite normal practice.
Remote consultations have become popular since the lockdown, and many doctors continue to use this type of communication.
Genomic treatment for patient care will increase in popularity, and it has been predicted that by 2050 whole-genome sequencing to identify disease-causing genes and risk-profiling will be available globally. All surgeries will have a gene reader that allows the team to read the genetic make-up of the patient within a few minutes. This development makes it possible to test, diagnose and therefore treat potential conditions rapidly.
There is absolutely no doubt that technology plays a vital part in the future of medicine.