Assisting surgeries, disinfecting rooms, dispensing medication, keeping patients company: get ready, because before you know it the next time you enter a hospital, pharmacy, or doctors office, you may be greeted by more than just humans. With 2020 upon us, the use of “mechanical helpers” in medical facilities are dramatically increasing and soon to become the new norm.
Hands off surgery?
In 2020, robotic surgery is projected to BOOM with estimated surgical robotic sales of $6.4 billion doubling within the year. The most commonly known surgical robot is the da Vinci Surgical System, created in the early 2000’s. With the surgeon sitting at a console just a few feet from the patient, the da Vinci system translates the surgeon’s hand movements into corresponding micro-movements of the surgical instruments. It features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate to a far greater extent than the human hand.
Additionally, they are able to carry out more precise operations than previously thought possible. 'Intuitive Surgical', located in Silicon Valley, saw an opportunity to reduce the complications in surgery and then acted on it. It is because of their limitless innovation that the da Vinci Surgical System is now in use in over 2,000 hospitals worldwide.
Touch-less blood draw?
No one enjoys blood tests...so, what if shaky needles and elusive veins became a problem of the past?
With blood tests being one of the most common diagnostic procedures in the world, researchers from Rutgers University have created a robot that can both draw and test blood, known as phlebotomy. This robot can help to speed up the diagnostic process as there will be less time between the doctor visit and diagnostic. The robot contains three separate parts:
The first is a “venipuncture robot.” This robot locates the patient’s blood vessels using near-infrared (NIR) and ultrasound imaging. Then, it reconstructs the vessels in 3D using image analysis. Finally, it inserts the needle right into the center of a vein.
The next part of the platform is the “sample handling module.” This extracts the blood and pumps it to the third part of the system.
Lastly, the “centrifuge-based blood analyze”contains an acrylic chip that houses the blood sample, a centrifuge separates the blood into its various parts, and an optical microscope system determines the cell count.
Meaning, when a nurse comes to take a patient’s weight and blood pressure before a doctor’s appointment, they could easily do some simple blood tests, with results ready before the patient even sees a doctor. It could also provide value in places that lack trained medical personnel, such as refugee clinics. The idea for the robot has been in the making for over 30 years. Martin L. Yarmush, the bioengineering professor who led the project, was a trainee medical doctor working at a hospital. One night, he saw some nurses trying to get an IV into a small child. He referred to the experience as a nightmare and it was at that moment he said to himself, “There has to be a better way.” Yarmush saw an area of weakness in the healthcare system and decided to challenge the norm. He knew that although something has always been done a certain way, it doesn't mean it can't be improved moving forward. By not putting a limit on creativity, he is leading the way into the future of healthcare.
Being Diagnosed By Your Doctor When They Aren't Even There?
Your doctor is out of town? The specialist is in another country? What if your doctor didn't even need to be in the hospital to provide an assessment?
InTouch Health is committed to humanizing the technological shift overtaking the healthcare industry. They are the leading provider of Telehealth Network and Services to healthcare systems for the delivery of high quality virtual care, anytime, anywhere. With an annualized growth rate of 25%, they are expanding to approximately one additional hospital per day. This technology has the ability to connect health care specialists to patients in need. However, this innovation is much more than just a FaceTime call. Doctors can enable modules like documentation, diagnostic-quality image viewing, and analytics in order to effectively make a diagnosis and create an action plan.
InTouch is used in acute care (telestroke, teleICU), ambulatory care (post-surgical discharge, rehabilitation centers) and community care (long-term care, home care). Intouch health provides a specific “emergent telehealth solution” that focuses on stroke,critical care, cardiology etc. For example, with the Critical Care solution, doctors can remotely manage and triage patients, which has proven to reduce mortality by 15-30% and reduce patient length of stay by up to 19%.
The power of Exoskeletons
Exoskeletons are being implemented all around the world to provide support with walking, standing, and carrying heavy objects. This technology treats ailments such as muscular dystrophy, paralysis, and general fatigue. The annual US revenue of exoskeleton technology is projected to reach about $292 million in 2020. In Japan, where the technology is already developed, the prospective figures are much higher: exoskeletons market growth is projected to reach nearly $1 billion per year.
It was near the end of 2010 that a Japanese company called Cyberdyne developed the Robot Suit, HAL. Instead of relying on a human operator's muscle contractions to move the limbs, HAL used sensors that pick up the electrical messages sent by the operator's brain.
A decade later, BBC highlighted the success story of a french man being able to move all four of his paralyzed limbs with a mind-controlled exoskeleton suit.
The suit has even been recognized for its rehabilitation abilities by the FDA. Just recently, ReWalk Robotics, a leading exoskeleton-manufacturing company, announced that the agency cleared the company’s ReStore soft exo-suit system for sale to rehabilitation centers across the United States. Leadership in this industry could lead to brain controlled wheelchairs for paralyzed patients in the future.
Each of these innovations are extremely successful in the healthcare industry because they are among the first to lead the way into the future. Behind each innovation is a leader who does not submit to obstacles, challenging the norm in order to change the way we act and think .