Healthcare Technology: What’s to Come in 2023
New breakthroughs and innovations are being made in the healthcare industry every day. From drug discovery to disease detection to revolutionary treatments, the applications for technology in healthcare are endless.
As experts in international health insurance and healthcare, we look into what medical technology developments are coming in the next year.
AI and Machine Learning
There are numerous uses for AI technologies in healthcare. In 2023, the AI healthcare market is forecast to reach over $20 million and is set to increase every year after that.
Machine learning is being implemented in the pharmaceutical industry, with AI being able to predict outcomes of clinical trials and even calculate side effect risks. The technology can model molecules and simulate chemical reactions, reducing the need for expensive on-site experiments. It has already been seen to streamline and accelerate drug development, with breakthrough formulas having been discovered with the help of machine learning.
AI has also been used for the detection and treatment of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The technology analyses brain MRI scans and helps to find vital information to support clinicians. It can help to diagnose and also track brain changes during treatment.
Nanotechnology is the use of materials on a nanoscale, which are too small to be seen with the human eye or even a regular microscope. Nanotechnology has made developments in healthcare, known as nanomedicine, which is set to improve and develop further in the coming year.
At the end of 2021, scientists were able to produce xenobots – tiny organic robots that have the ability to self-replicate. It’s thought that future development of these could lead to the regrowth and repair of damaged nerves. Already, scientists are able to use nanotechnology to repair damaged tissue, using carbon nanotubes.
There is also the potential for nanotechnology to be used in treatment, by injecting nanobots into the bloodstream and allowing them to find and kill cancer cells or viruses. Nanotechnology has already been used in vaccinations, using nanoparticles to encourage the immune system to create specified antibodies.
Nanomedicine is also being developed to assist with diagnosis. Nanotechnologies can improve ultrasounds and MRIs, producing a clearer image for clinicians to be able to make more accurate diagnoses.
Although in the early days of research and development, smart implants look to have a lot of potential for the detection and treatment of a variety of health issues.
Research is currently underway to develop remote sensors that are implanted into the patient’s body and can provide feedback to an external receiver. This could be used to detect infections around a surgical site or to monitor pain after surgery.
There is also currently a lot of research into chips that can be inserted into the brain that can help with different problems. For example, one project has found that a quadriplegic person was able to regain movement in one arm, thanks to a microchip in their brain that detects electrical activity and passes it to the right nerves.
Another project was able to improve a blind person’s sight so they could detect some shapes and colours. There is also potential for smart implants to improve memory, which could be used for those with dementia or brain injuries.
VR and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality (a combination of virtual and physical) have already shown huge potential in healthcare.
Augmented and mixed reality technologies can support surgeons during surgery, producing a clearer image to make it easier to locate tumours, for example. It can also help to show what’s behind the tumour, helping surgeons to avoid vessels and nerves that may be underneath.
VR and augmented reality can also help with medical education and the study of anatomy. Students will be able to study the human body in 3D and in minute detail, amplifying their education to more than what could be provided by 2D images in a textbook.
Remote healthcare and telehealth have already taken great strides, due to the necessity of its use during the pandemic. This development looks to increase through to next year, even as the situation has become safer to have face-to-face consultations.
It has been found that a lot of appointments can be conducted remotely, which has been shown to be much more convenient for many people. It also usually means there is more availability for in-person consultations, as well as being more cost-effective for the clinic.
Telehealth can also be used during treatment, with suitable patients having the option to spend their recovery at home, in familiar surroundings. Healthcare professionals can then check in and monitor the patients remotely, freeing up space in hospitals for those that might need it more.
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