10 Emerging Healthcare Technologies
New technologies are constantly in development to help people stay healthy, better diagnose disease, treat illness, and provide a better quality of life. Here are some examples:
Intelligent Pills Deliver Medication to Specific Locations: Philips Research has developed an intelligent pill that can be programmed to deliver targeted doses of medication to patients with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, and colon cancer.1
Sensor Technology Tracks Medication Adherence: Proteus Biomedical is working on technology that incorporates a tiny sensor into pills for targeting medication adherence for organ transplants, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, diabetes, and psychiatric disorders.2
Brain Implants Prevent Seizures: The RNS System, a responsive neurostimulator from NeuroPace, detects abnormal electrical activity in the brain that signals the onset of a seizure, and delivers a specific pattern of mild electrical stimulation to block the seizure.
Contact Lens Detects Glaucoma: Sensimed’s scientists have created a smart contact lens with an embedded microchip that monitors intraocular pressure. If a patient wears the contact lens for a day, glaucoma can be detected sooner and more reliably, and the efficacy of the treatment can be monitored over time, potentially averting blindness.3
Artificial Pancreas for Diabetics: Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University have successfully completed a trial with 11 type-1 diabetic patients using a new “artificial pancreas”4 that consists of insulin pumps, glucose sensors, and regulatory software.
Printing New Skin: Wake Forest University’s scientists have discovered how to apply ink-jet printer technology to ‘print’ proteins directly onto a burn victim’s body for faster and more thorough healing.5
Artificial Retina: The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Artificial Retina Project — a collaboration of five DOE national laboratories, four universities, and private industry — is developing a retinal prosthesis. To date, progress has been made by enabling direct communication between the implant and the neural cells that carry visual information to the brain.6
Video Games Hone Medical Student Decision-Making Skills: The University of Texas, Corpus Christi, and BreakAway Ltd., have developed a ‘serious’ video game that lets professionals and students practice on 3D video patients using the same interactive techniques and decision-making processes they would use with real patients.
Robot Care Givers: MIT’s “Huggable” teddy bear robot can serve as a medical communicator for children. Packed with electronic sensors and sensitive skin technologies, the robot can distinguish between cuddling for comfort or agitation by sensing the strength of the squeeze.7
Lab-on-a-Chip: Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have created a lab-on-a-chip for HIV testing that does not require expensive resources and can deliver results in seconds. The portable and less expensive lab-on-a-chip is a holographic, lens-free imaging mechanism that counts specific molecules and blood cells to determine if the blood is HIV positive.8