Post COVID-19 MedTech Trends
Technology not only plays a crucial role in our personal lives but has been a game-changer for many different industries. Taking education as an example, it has already gone digital, hence coined the term ed-tech; another industry that’s joining the bandwagon is med-tech; speaking of which did you see our trends regarding ed-tech?
Back to the subject, technology is turning out to be an important resource in the field of medicine. Its utilization aids the development of new products, especially in the category of medical devices aimed at increasing the quality of life.
COVD’19 is a virus that started as an epidemic in China, later taking the form of a pandemic that has now affected 13.1 million people; killing nearly 573,000 people. The world has been on the edge, trying everything from social distancing to lockdown. Providing even basic healthcare facilities has now become a challenge. This is not the first pandemic the world has faced; there have been several viruses in the past that have caused many to die. However, the difference with coronavirus is that it has emerged at a time where we as humans have advanced and are equipped with newer more advanced technologies that provide better resources for predicting diagnosis and prognosis.
TeleClinic Bridging The Doctor-Patient Distance
The pandemic, being viral has got people to home arrest themselves and cut their social associations even for the most basic of needs. People suffering from ailments other than COVID are also afraid of making appointments with their physicians for the fear of contracting the virus. While at other places there are stringent lockdown preventing people from visiting the nearby clinics and hospitals. TeleClinics have turned up as a popular alternative to the normal doctor visits. Though it has been around for quite some time, it has been thought to never have been a good substitute over physical examination; however, it’s a desperate measure in a desperate time.
TeleClinic replaces the physical visit to the physician’s office by allowing the patient to consult the doctor via an online video call platform. All the patient needs is to book an appointment with the clinic, a mobile device with a video calling feature, and a stable internet connection. In the absence of Telemedicine, it would have been difficult for such patients to get their physician’s advice in these times, which could have turned their minor medical conditions into medical emergencies.
At the moment virtual consultations are available almost all over the world, and the prescribed medicine can also be ordered online from the pharmacies offering online pharmacy services.
The elective procedures have seen a drop due to the pandemic, as the hospitals are trying not to admit patients to keep the beds, ventilator facilities, and staff vacant for those affected by COVID and other more serious cases.
MedTech Wearables for Self Health Monitor
Medical wearables have been quite a trend since before the appearance of COVID. For example, the popular Apple Watch that’s been around for a while and is known to monitor heart rate as well as to detect early signs of irregular rhythms and ECG options. Then, there are revolutionary contact lenses that keep a check on the blood sugar levels; and the Fitbits tying together all the different features into a single wristband; and guess what? It tells the time to!
So back to the COVID times, and how MedTech wearables are helping here? Oura has launched a smart ring that can diagnose the virus even before the symptoms start to show, in as early as 3 days! Insane right? The smart ring is said to be able to detect the wearer’s body temperature, heart rate, and some stuff with the calculations that can let you know if you might have the virus!
Convenience of Diagnosis via At-Home Lab Test Services
Since almost the whole world is under lockdown and is practicing social distancing, the TeleClinic consultation service will be useless if a medical condition requires lab service. Because the lab service would require you to travel to the labs where there is a greater possibility of contracting the virus from a carrier. That’s where the At Home Lab Services make the job easy. Just book an appointment and be ready with any prescribed preparations, a lab staff should visit your place to collect the sample. The lab should process the results and email you the reports for further consultations. This will not only make the physician’s job easier but also help in relatively accurate diagnosis in the absence of physical examination.
One of the companies offering these at-home lab services for Coronavirus is Nurx. Nurx’s initiative is a good one as it decreases the possibility of the suspected person’s exposure to others.
3D Printing – The Future of Manufacturing
While people are still trying to explore the different uses of 3D printers, no one could have imagined their use in MedTech, that too during a pandemic. 3D printers provide an amazing alternative to the conventional manufacturing processes by making the manufacturing process super-efficient in terms of the time and cost resource utilization. For example, a 3D printer can produce a face shield in just 14 minutes with zero human involvement – everything is technology-driven.
The 3D printing technology is now being employed in the production of nasal swabs PPEs and amongst a number of things. Hospitals have started placing their orders with individual sellers who are producing such necessities using 3D print technology.
Initially, it was a rather skeptical concept to trust for large scale production but the scarcity of such medical equipment has turned it into a superstar technology. Individuals and corporations don’t have another option but to opt for 3D printing to meet the rising demand for necessary goods.
Virtual Reality Meets Real World Problems
Virtual Reality is a form of technology mostly heard of in the gaming industry. It’s a term used to define a lifelike virtual experience, and with more advancement, it only grows closer to reality. A new aspect of the VR technology is unfolded with its use in MedTech. The pandemic situation has led the intelligently creative minds to create different directions with existing technologies and platforms.
Currently, VR is being used in MedTech to train new medical and healthcare staff, and officers without being exposed to the virus through a simulation experience. The employment of this medium for training is very effective as it minimizes the exposure to the virus while equipping the trainees with all the required skills and treatment procedures. Once their training is complete, the trainees can join the healthcare institutes as trained professionals to offer their service. The virtual training has been greatly advantageous for the doctors, according to an estimate from a recent study it was concluded that trained professionals were better at surgical procedures than the untrained ones by 83% as listed by Forbes.
Robots in Medicine
Remember back in the day, we would see robots serving as a house help for people? Well, we’re finally living in that time but not quite as we might have expected! Though the use of robots as waiters at the restaurants or luggage carriers at hotels has become a common practice, the trend is more likely to boom during the pandemic. As the current situation calls for cutting social interaction as much as possible, some very essential needs are to be met like disinfecting spaces of the hospitals which are equally important as the former. Therefore, in the light of the present situation, robots are being used by the hospitals for disinfecting floors via UV light and by sodium hydrochloride.
The built-in technology is impeccable at delivering the job; the sensors employed detect every object in their path, and don’t miss a single spot. These robots even keep a check on the temperature of the patients, doctors, and anyone entering the hospital to make sure no one with the symptoms goes undetected or unreported.
They have a 12-inch tablet attached to them which can be used in an emergency to contact the doctor via video call. Thus they help in fewer interactions between patients and doctors. Consequently, there is a lesser crowd to manage and cost-saving for the hospital.
Cameras That See Through You
Cameras with temperature checking abilities have been employed at airports all over the world. They enable the airport staff to see potential coronavirus patients and separate them from the crowd. The staff checks the passengers through a camera that detects the ones with abnormal body temperature. After the sorting, the staff informs the airport faculty who quarantine the suspected passengers for further medical examinations
AI Opens A World Of Possibilities
AI is an acronym for Artificial Intelligence. AI has proven to be pivotal in the management of pandemic. It helped predict the expected routes the virus would take to turn into a pandemic from an epidemic. An app called Blue Dot using Artificial intelligence published the routes the coronavirus would take to spread, using airline data combined with news reports. It was later when the virus became a health emergency, and a pandemic, it was found that the virus followed the same route as published by Blue Dot.
Artificial intelligence is also being used to prioritize patients requiring immediate treatment depending upon the seriousness of their condition. In China, some hospitals are using software that could study the CT Scans to detect pneumonia with COVID 19 symptoms to help doctors in prioritizing potential COVID 19 patients.
Back in the day, Genome Sequence would take months but this time the medical professionals were able to sequence the genome within a month of the outbreak. As soon as it was available, biotech companies started making its synthetic copies which will be used in the research for vaccines.
Who Knew Stalking Could Help Save Lives?
Some of the countries are tracking their citizen’s cellular data to track the possible route of virus spread. For example, Mr. A is tested positive for coronavirus, his network provider will use his cellular data for tracking the locations he’s been to in the past 1-14 days, and all the cellphones that might have been in its vicinity. This will help them identify the people that should now be quarantined and closely monitor themselves for any symptoms related to the virus.
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