- Generative AI is one of the emerging technologies in healthcare that can be used for medical imaging, clinical documentation, medical diagnosis, symptom checks, clinical decision-making, and much more. ChatGPT and Bard are well-known generative AI products.
- VR and AR, another key technology create a fictional world that can be used by surgeons to explore a patient’s body before performing surgery. According to a study, VR training improved participant’s overall surgical performance by 230 percent compared to traditional methods.
- Metaverse, a combination of VR, AR, and AI, can be leveraged by medical schools to create a virtual platform for students to share medical knowledge and interact with other students.
- Nanomedicine, a top-notch technology, examines the human body, including medical devices and drugs at the nano level. So, detecting diseases at the smallest level can help to prevent and cure them as early as possible.
- Another healthcare technology: neurotechnology, can shape brain activity. It consists of an array of algorithms, devices, and methods that can modulate neural systems, brain implants, and nerve stimulators.
Medical technology is one of the core aspects of the healthcare industry. Innovations and research in healthcare technology have amplified hope for millions of individuals who suffer daily from life-threatening diseases. Novel technologies such as nanomedicine, extended reality, digital therapeutics, NLP, and more are improving the lives of patients and changing the course of a disease.
The USA is home to the most advanced healthcare technology. Leading segments of healthcare technology in the USA are diagnostic imaging, in vitro diagnostics, and EHR to name a few. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted medical technology as it experienced maximum growth during the 2020 to 2021 timeframe.
Top Emerging Technologies in Healthcare
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence in healthcare has proved to be a vital asset. AI is gaining popularity due to its multiple use cases across different healthcare sectors such as medical diagnosis, data analytics, disease prevention, medication reminders, drug discovery, and more. This emerging technology in healthcare is used in varied forms that are explained below.
Natural language processing (NLP) is a type of AI that can interpret text or words and respond in a human-like manner. This technology is used in healthcare to reduce physician burnout and enhance productivity. As per a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, physicians spend more time entering data than with patients. Spending excessive time on medical documentation can result in burnout. NLP helps to reduce not only physician burnout but also enhances productivity by taking notes in real-time.
Moreover, the data that is entered into the system is in an unstructured format, which is difficult to read, so NLP is used to convert this data into a structured format. Apart from this, NLP can interpret human emotions (which is called sentiment analysis). It analyzes emotions during the documentation process. With NLP, doctors can comprehend patient emotions during the diagnosis process and offer mental support.
b. AI-Assisted Chatbots
Conversational chatbots are integrated into healthcare software such as EHRs, patient portals, healthcare websites, and medical applications to offer 24/7 services to patients. AI-assisted chatbots are designed to function on any device and at any time, so when a doctor is not available, patients can turn to chatbots for medical assistance. They are also trained to provide mental support and reassurance to patients.
Furthermore, chatbots can take on numerous tasks such as medication reminders, appointment bookings, answering queries, and more. So, there’s no need to hire people to manage these tasks, thus reducing recruiting expenses. AI-assisted chatbots are quick to respond, so patients and providers don’t have to wait for hours to receive a reply.
c. Generative AI
Generative AI functions as a content creator. It produces graphics, research titles, blogs, poetry, songs, etc., to name a few. Recent examples of generative AI in the market are ChatGPT and Bard. In healthcare, generative AI can be used for medical imaging, clinical documentation, medical diagnosis, symptom checks, clinical decision-making, and much more.
It has the potential to reduce admin work by contributing to medical documentation, however use of generative AI for diagnosis is still a debatable topic amongst physicians. Misinformation and bias are two core issues that have come up after using generative AI like ChatGPT. The homepage of ChatGPT states that it sometimes writes nonsensical answers. So, it is recommended that individuals with no medical background seek expert advice rather than depending on a machine to solve queries.
d. Machine Learning
Machine learning is considered one of the emerging technologies in healthcare because it can analyze large volumes of data to detect diseases and help providers plan the next treatment approach.
Furthermore, artificial neural networks (ANNs) or simulated neural networks (SNNs) are a part of machine learning that imitates the structure of neural networks in our brains. ANNs are the basis of deep learning and are used to analyze medical images to detect abnormalities. It doesn’t replace a radiologist but helps to speed up the time taken to analyze an image.
2. Extended Reality
Extended reality is one of the top-notch emerging technologies in healthcare and it is compartmentalized into the following:
a. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are often associated with gaming, but this next-gen technology is also paving its way into the healthcare sector. VR and AR create a fictional world that can be used by surgeons to explore a patient’s body before performing surgery. According to a Harvard Business Review, VR training improved participants’ overall surgical performance by 230 percent as compared to traditional methods.
Furthermore, VR and AR are used extensively for people suffering from brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, migraine, or Alzheimer’s disease. Virtual reality is capable of simulating ailments for brain diseases, which helps doctors to understand age-related problems and also increases their empathy towards such patients. Another reason for the growing usage of augmented reality in healthcare is its ability to prepare a safe environment for patients undergoing mental health issues.
As per Facebook, the metaverse is an amalgamation of the online world which is projected in 3D and expanded into the physical world. Metaverse offers immersive experiences and allows people to share them with others. In healthcare, the metaverse is used to tackle mental health issues because it can create a virtual space where a patient is comfortable talking to a psychologist.
Metaverse is a combination of VR, AR, and AI, so it is used to create a space to trigger memories in the brain. Neuroscientists can study these triggers and understand how a brain functions. Further, the metaverse can be leveraged by medical schools to create a virtual platform for students to share medical knowledge and interact with other students.
We are still fighting to find a plausible solution to chronic conditions such as cancer, brain diseases, and inflammatory diseases. Nanomedicine holds promising solutions to counter fatal and chronic diseases. It examines the human body, including medical devices and drugs at the nano level. Detecting diseases at their smallest stage can help to prevent and cure them as early as possible. In healthcare, nanomedicine is used in the following ways:
- Smart Pills: Smart pills are nano-sized electronic devices that are designed as pharmaceutical pills and can perform activities such as drug delivery, imaging, and sensing. Smart Sensor Capsules built by MIT prevent the need to inject drugs into the stomach. When taken orally, Smart Sensor Capsules track vital signs for diagnosis and release medicines at target areas in the body.
- Nanofibers: These are used in surgical textiles, wound dressings, tissue engineering, implants, and artificial organ components. Nanofibers act like ‘smart bandages’ because they get absorbed once a tissue is healed. These fibers contain antibiotics, clotting agents, and sensors to detect infections.
- Nanobots: Nanobots serve as mini surgeons and are inserted in the body to replace and repair intracellular structures. They can replicate themselves to eradicate diseases and correct deficiencies in genetics.
Neurotechnology can shape brain activity. It consists of an array of algorithms, devices, and methods that can modulate neural systems, brain implants, and nerve stimulators. Findings in the field of neurotechnology are:
- Researchers at the California Institute of Technology found out that usage of a BMI (Brain-Machine Interface) algorithm predicted around 90 percent accuracy in real-time, out of which a tetraplegic person was speaking eight words in their mind.
- A study at the University of California reported that BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) along with a machine learning algorithm allowed a person with severe paralysis to mentally spell out letters.
5. 3D Printing
3D printing builds solid models so it is easier for doctors to improve implants. The FDA has approved the 3D technology for complicated implants. Moreover, as per the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 3D printing can transform how doctors treat patients suffering from debilitating musculoskeletal injuries, and it has significantly impacted cartilage and bone restoration.
Furthermore, 3D printing can develop accurate anatomical models that help surgeons in improving outcomes. For instance, in 2022, researchers at the University of Virginia and Florida Atlantic University designed a robotic model of the spine to aid surgeons in performing surgery. In addition, medical devices such as hemostats, forceps, and retractors are also recreated by 3D printing technology.
These technologies are transforming the healthcare sector by improving patient outcomes, engagement, and experience. They are a boon for people who have lost hope in curing themselves from fatal diseases. They are changing the face of how healthcare will be perceived in the forthcoming years.
If you’re looking for a top-notch healthcare technology for your organization, that will empower providers to deliver better results, then get in touch with Arkenea. We are one of the leading healthcare software development companies that specialize in artificial intelligence, telemedicine, EHRs, healthcare applications, and more. Our experts believe in delivering quality products that meet industry standards and satisfy user requirements.