Five Disruptive Technologies In Healthcare

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 10, 2014


New technologies are impacting the healthcare industry at lightning speed. The sector that has long been held by slow moving innovations due to the complexity of the medical ecosystem is moving from the basic innovations in analytics, cloud and mobile practices, towards the more advanced ones, such as 3D printing, motion sensors and wearable technologies. These are other technologies are starting to offer healthcare practitioners with cheaper, faster and more efficient patient care than ever before.

Here are some of the technologies which have the potential to be disruptive in the healthcare sector over the next years.

Wearable technology: Wearable technology is still in its infancy even though it has started to have widespread influence across several industries including healthcare. Dr. Rafael Grossmann was the very first surgeon to use Google Glass or wearable technology while performing a surgery. Recently, Apple has also unveiled its new HealthKit platform, which aims to serve as a single repository for health care data from a variety of compatible devices. Many more companies are expected to evolve in the healthcare wearable space in the coming months.

Considering that the wearables market is estimated by research firm Canalys to reach 8 million annual shipments by the end of 2014 (before expectedly tripling to 23 million in 2015), experts believe as wearable technology continues to improve to better meet the needs of its users, healthcare providers continue to hope that its use will impact both the experience of patients and practitioners to better receive and administer care.

Read: The Next Big Wave With IT In Healthcare

3D Printing technologies: The use of 3D printers in the healthcare sector is something to watch out for in the coming years, which experts believe can have an important impact in the future. Take for example, Embryonic Stem Cells that have already been successfully printed in a lab and could be one-day use to create tissue that could help test drugs and assist in the growth of new organs.

There have been many advances in the areas of developing skin to help burn victims and skin disease patients, 3D printers can help further jumpstart these advances with the addition of laser-printed skin cells, writes Julie Wheelan is VP of Marketing for Edison Nation Medical, in a blog, who states that 3D printers have also helped scientists and doctors create stem cells that could eventually develop into both bone and cartilage in the long-term and detect cancer, test drugs and eventually find a cure for it.

Hybrid Operating Rooms: Due to the complexities in the systems, technologies and operations currently in place in all healthcare facilities, healthcare professionals are often faced with integration challenges. A hybrid operation room is a new innovation where a traditional operating room is outfitted with advanced medical technology to improve the care delivered to patients and can typically help reduce trauma, scarring, drives faster rehabilitation. Anjan Bose, Secretary General, Healthcare Federation of India suggests that the technology can become one of the strongest pillars of modern healthcare. It also enhances the skill-sets of medical practitioners when it comes to undertaking treatment.

Digestible Sensors: At its earliest stages of development, digestible sensors is expected to offer healthcare professionals with more information about the human body and how various treatment solutions affect each system of organs. A digestible sensor transmits information about a patient to medical professionals to help them customize the care to the individual on specific health conditions or These sensors will monitor your bodily systems and wirelessly transmit what’s happening in your body to another device like your smartphone or computer for your own review or the review of your doctor.

“An innovation of this nature could have far reaching effects for healthcare by helping detect diseases and conditions at earlier stages in people digesting these sensors that are in turn, constantly monitored wirelessly,” said healthcare technology analyst Brian Honigman in his blog.

Doctor to Doctor Communication: Communication has been a vital problem in healthcare industry today. Those that include referrals, progress updates, and insurance authorizations are often too cumbersome and expensive. Primary care providers and specialists require updated information in real-time, which the present phone calls and the fax machine does not offer.

Experts believe an electronic referrals management system that is customized to each facilities’ needs, can provide accurate data about the patients without any error. While many hospitals in the US and developed countries are using these technologies to communicate, in the next few years, it will become prevalent even in the emerging economies.