Thursday, September 22, 2011

Changes in Medicine

Just like in every industry technology and innovation changes how things are done. Online music and movies changed the whole entertainment industry to a point where it obliterated some well known companies. Medicine is also constantly going through changes, new procedures and vaccines eliminate sub specialties.  The human genome has brought us a breakthrough genetic treatment for lupus; Benlysta by Human Genome Sciences.

A cardiac surgeon is not a lucrative profession as it once was.  Medical breakthroughs and the elimination of coronary arterial bypass surgery have drastically changed the way medicine is being implemented. It is becoming hard to find a job in this field.  The balloon coronary angioplasty is one of the sophisticated ways for a cardiologist to perform the procedure on the heart without ever picking up a scalpel.  Only the most complicated cases will not benefit from minimally invasive surgery. In other words cardiologists have taken the work away from the cardiac surgeons.

GE has added a lot of innovative products to the healthcare sector.  Their smart medical room is one of them. The room uses optical sensors, RFID tags, computer vision algorithms and facial recognition along with speakers and cameras.  The software is designed to monitor healthcare staff as well as patients for various reasons,  it is basically being used to monitor and improve performance. The room can track patients and their movements this is done to help the patient if they are out of bed and in risk of a fall.  GE believes that some day we will be able to identify facial expressions to recognize the typical characteristics of a stroke by using these technologies.

Microsoft has also been working on medical innovations as well,  they are using medical avatars that can interact with a humans just as a health care worker might do.  With the use of probabilities and computer algorithms the avatar will recognize the symptoms a patient is experiencing and give a diagnosis. Although it is in its initial stages these futuristic concepts can become a reality.  Seeing how robotic surgeries first started as a once a week procedure in operating rooms they quickly caught on with patients and turned into the norm.

As we move into a paperless society we can see that hospitals are starting to make the transition.  There are advantages such as lower costs, greener environment and saving lives.  The government is giving bonuses to the first hospitals to adapt and threatening penalties and cuts in monetary payments to those providers who resist to change.  Hospitals are also testing patient digital hand prints as a form of identification in their emergency rooms.  This is to identify patients and to have easy access to their medical information even if the patient arrives unconscious.

 Some of the information for this blog came from the following book
 Smart Medicine: How the Changing Role of Doctors Will Revolutionize Health Care (Macsci)

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