Change with the times, and the tech

New technologies are rocking the field of health care, making inroads and influencing medical approaches and advancements. Whether the innovation is invisible during a clinical visit, or as obvious as the electronics we wear or see in an emergency room, they contribute to the excellence of health care delivery in Canada.

Data networks will scale

Big data comes with a big imprint. Patient data — from routine checkups, remote and virtual care, and personal health wearables — is driving medical research. Precision medicine requires even larger data sets and now increasingly specific genomes. Data is stored and accessed through secure blockchain, but privacy concerns are leading to another digital solution: the internet of things (IoT). IoT allows sophisticated, distributed analytics on site so data never leaves the virtual walls of the health care centre.

Personal health data stores multiply

Health wearables are capable of tracking medically useful health information. As consumers embrace devices to track their sleep, blood pressure, stress levels and more, data is turned over to consumers on demand and in useable electronic formats. The ‘cloud’ views these consumers as patients, and researchers will be integrating this personal health data with online access to clinical data. Using machine learning, physicians can measure changes in a patient’s health, then engage with the patient through digital communication platforms to agree to next steps.

AI transcends the hype

Canada is a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning. Canada is also a  leader in medical and diagnostic imaging, such as in vitro diagnostics (IVDs), picture archiving and communications systems (PACS). The most consequential real-world AI applications will be in image processing through early stage machine learning for areas like radiology and dermatological lesions. Spin-offs could include self-monitoring and telemedicine apps for tele-radiology and dermatology.

Robotics

Innovations in automated robotic processes, manual task automation and deep learning are throwing the doors open applications in the health care industry. AI can already help diagnose eye disease and has potential to diagnose chronic diseases over the phone by studying voice patterns, allowing for less-invasive procedures to occur.

Robots in the operating room provide physicians with guidance for extreme precision in surgery. Limited pain and shorter recovery times after surgery are just a few of the benefits experienced with minimally invasive robotized surgery. Continued innovations in robotics is leading to more effective and precise surgeries with improved patient outcomes.

Pharmacogenomics

The rise of precision medicine, or pharmacogenomics, is impacting pharmaceutical research and health care technology. This approach is seeing success in oncology by focusing on a patient’s protein interaction and genetic makeup for a more tailored treatment.

Researchers compared DNA from a patient’s tumor to normal cells and learned how the cancer started, and where it may be most vulnerable for treatment. By tracking genetic profiles of patients’ tumors, physicians can also learn which treatments work best for which patients.

A study by Scipher Medicine, found 65% of patients prescribed the world’s top five selling drugs didn’t respond to the therapy. Precision medicine will also impact how the health care industry funds pharmaceutical research.

These newest innovative technologies have the potential to improve responsiveness in addition to convenience. The willingness to adopt, embrace and integrate them into treatment — by both physicians and patients — has the potential to greatly improve health care outcomes.

 

This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. The opinions stated by the authors are made in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries including Joule.  Feel passionate about physician-led innovation? Please connect with us at jouleinquiries@cma.ca.

About the author

LeeEllen Carroll

LeeEllen Carroll is an award-winning communicator with expertise in strategic planning and execution, public relations, video production, media relations and training, and writing. Combining her years as a network television news producer and public relations agency consultant, she is a storyteller and connector who engages others to be impactful. With a flair for strategy and a bent for achievement, LeeEllen's work on both sides of the microphone has been cited and honoured.

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