In today’s medical device environment, there are four main types of medical technology: telehealth, robotic surgery, artificial intelligence, and wearable devices. These technologies have made major breakthroughs in advancing human health.
Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies (ICT), such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely and manage health care. Some examples of telehealth are a virtual visit with a healthcare provider, remote patient monitoring using wearable devices (see below), or even communication through electronic health records.
There are various benefits in using telehealth technology, including less demand on resources, improved access to care, and lower risk of disease transmission. The COVID-19 pandemic and advocacy around social distancing has created tremendous opportunities for the telehealth industry, with a forecasted growth rate of 30.5% annually through 2028. While telehealth has promising potential, challenges to broader adoption of telehealth include limited access to technology, accreditation, provider reimbursement, as well as concerns about a drop in the quality of clinical care.
Robot-assisted surgery allows doctors to perform complex procedures with more flexibility, precision, and control than with conventional techniques. With this technology, surgeons use master controls with advanced visualization capabilities through HD cameras to manipulate instruments that translate directly into precise movements inside the patient. Typically, robotic surgery is associated with minimally invasive surgery due to the prevalence of tiny incisions that are challenging for humans to make precisely. Colorectal surgery, gynecologic surgery, and thoracic surgery are some examples of procedures that have been performed successfully with robotic technology.
While improvements to healthcare infrastructure will create multiple opportunities for surgical robots across the globe, the high cost of robotic systems and the lack of skilled healthcare professionals to operate these systems will limit the growth potential.
Artificial intelligence (AI), the use of computer systems and technology to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, has a wide range of usability across industries and functions. Some of the more prevalent use cases within healthcare are in personalized medicine, drug discovery, assisted medical imaging analysis, and complex data & predictive analytics. These technologies serve to either reduce the workload of healthcare professionals and/or improve the quality and efficiency of clinical care and broader life sciences research.
AI adoption in healthcare is particularly challenging due to the level of scrutiny and regulation that underscores medical technology. Wider adoption of AI can improve workflows and operations, support providers’ clinical care plans, and improve the development of innovative treatments and therapies.
Wearable technology in healthcare is designed to collect the data of users’ personal health and exercise. The use of this technology has exploded over the last five years, with smartwatches such as Apple Watch and FitBit leading the way. These devices have tremendous potential in a clinical context as users can send their health information to their providers in real-time. Beyond smartwatches, patients can also leverage wearable devices in their care plan in the case of wearable ECG monitors or blood pressure monitors.
These devices pave the way for more personalized medicine with reduced costs due to more robust remote monitoring and fewer hospital visits and readmissions. As with any data-driven technology, the primary concerns with wearables are giving others access to very personal and private data and trusting the accuracy of the data itself.
If you are interested in developing innovative technology, DeviceLab is here to help you with any stage in the process. Contact us today for a consultation.