3 technologies to make you fall in love or hate modern healthcare
Before you start reading, I have to confess something to you.
One of the things from modern healthcare that excites me the most is advanced technology!
But regardless, some of these technologies bring my mind on the verge of disbelief. It isn’t easy to believe in the facts that there are robots which can travel through our blood vessels, or that we’ll use “air” for information input instead of devices that we use today.
These kind of information make us want to say “THIS CAN’T BE REAL”.
We did the same before, when we thought that robots will never enter the operating room, but we were proven wrong. Today, more and more hospitals have their own department for robotic surgery.
In your opinion, which of the 3 following technologies has the best chances to beat our “THIS CAN’T BE REAL”?
Nanobots swimming through our organism
We’ll start with the most “radical”, and those are nanobots (miniaturized robots). Their job is to move through our bloodstream and perform various tasks, such as artery examination or drug distribution.
Researchers from several institutes are working on developing different solutions. In this post, we’ll use the so-called “nanoswimmers“ from Technion Institute as an example. They have the width of a silk fiber, made of several links of polymer and magnetic nanowires.
From the tests performed so far, the concept is pretty clear. Nanobot is introduced into a blood-like fluid, and then an external oscillating magnetic field is applied.
Even though it sounds weird and scary, scientists believe that using nanobots would significantly decrease the need of invasive surgery, and it would also shorten patients recovery time and any additional risks.
In the video below, you can see how Technion’s „nanoswimmer“ performs.
Instead of devices, we use “air”
According to a research done in USA, more than 2 million people get infected in hospitals, and 100.000 of them dies due to those infections.
If we could make it possible for doctors and medical staff to enter and process data without physically touching a keyboard or a mouse, these numbers would largely decrease.
Let’s imagine a dental clinic where the dentist wears his gloves by default. After he examines his patient’s teeth, he goes to the keyboard and enters data. The question is, how clean is that keyboard, after hundreds of patients and work hours.
Exactly because of cases like these, ability to enter and view photos and rest of the data as holographic images seems as an ideal solution.
Companies such as HaptoMime use reflective surfaces in order to create virtual, floating screens. On the image below, you can see how it should look like in a clinical environment.
4-D printing of human organs
A group of Harvard University researchers, inspired by the way hat plants change shape in response to environment stimuli, devised a mathematical model that determines how to print a 4D model model in order to make the printed organ or medical devices able to change their form.
They used hydrogel composite ink containing aligned cellulose fibrils that swell lengthwise along the printing path. Then, researchers applied the mathematical model to print the fibrils in patterns that would allow them to curve in the predetermined ways when immersed in water.
While testing, their team printed two identical flowers, but they programmed them to move in different way when immersed in water. They also added a fluorescent color so that they could see the movement patterns better, and it also looked prettier.
The focus of future research will be on using this technology for creating artificial tissues, which will in the end lead to “growing” human organs.
All three of these technologies are exciting and promising.
Common for all of them is the fact that they aim specific sections of the healthcare system which are in great need of good solutions. All three of them have a goal to help doctors, and make the treatment painless and short.
How realistic is it for one of these futuristic solutions to succeed commercially?
Only time will tell.
While we wait for the answer, we can try to anticipate which of these three technologies has a real future?
I think one of the variation of the “nanoswimmers” do. Because it is a specific section of medicine which has a good record of accepting innovations.
What do you think?