5 Future Healthcare Breakthroughs that will change Our Lives
Healthcare is changing dramatically with new advancements in treatment occurring on an almost daily basis. The future of healthcare tech will include ways to improve your life, from enhancing safety to becoming more affordable. The following are five incredible healthcare breakthroughs that will change your life in the not so distant future.
1. New Ways to Manage Pain
Millions of individuals suffer from chronic pain. This is a serious public health problem since many people easily become addicted to the current treatments that physicians often prescribe. The future of healthcare tech is finding new ways for individuals to manage pain. Prescouter lists several new advancements that are helping people manage pain more effectively while improving safety.
- Implants – ReActive8 is a neurostimulation implant that helps manage lower back pain. The implant sends electrical stimulation to specific nerves. This is specifically for adults who have back pain that relates to the lumbar multifidus muscle and are not eligible for spine surgery.
- Patches – Over-the-counter, drug-free patches are now available to relieve a variety of musculoskeletal pain. This may seem like a low-tech solution, but patches such as the BioElectronic’s ActiPatch can teach nerves to “unlearn” pain by sending tiny electromagnetic waves.
- Radiofrequency – Radiofrequency ablation uses radio waves to reduce or even hinder the transmission of pain. This is a minimally invasive technique that provides consistent results.
2. Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
Until now, those suffering from severe spinal cord injuries, especially those having paralysis, have found little hope in even the most advanced medical treatments. Studies have shown that approximately 1 in 50 individuals live with some type of paralysis.
Surgically implanted stimulators may enable those with paralysis to walk again. These electrical stimulators can bypass the spinal cord. Researchers are in the beginning stages of this incredible treatment that involves a brain implant. A man, unable to move his hands or legs after a diving accident, could regain his sense of touch through brain implants. While this is not the same as actually moving his hand, it is dramatic progress and shows what we might expect in the future.
This type of technology works when a port in the skull sends different signals to a computer. The software will decode these signals, which are then sent to electrodes that are on various parts of the body. Individuals suffering from conditions such as paraplegia may also need rehabilitation to restore atrophied muscles before being able to move limbs through brain implants and wearable devices.
3. Fighting Alzheimer’s Disease
The first step in dealing with and treating Alzheimer’s is detecting the disease as early as possible. The future of healthcare tech will soon have the tools to identify individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer’s before symptoms occur. Euronews reports that a deep learning method has the ability to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s with 99 percent accuracy.
Researchers in Lithuania found this method after analyzing MRI images from dozens of subjects. The technique uses deep learning and artificial intelligence to study and analyze brain images. The hope is to develop the algorithms in use for the original study into software that may eventually help detect Alzheimer’s in millions of patients.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 55 million individuals worldwide with dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for up to 70 percent of these cases. The future of healthcare tech will provide early detection, helping people receive treatments earlier, slow the progression of the disease, and positively affect millions of lives globally.
4. Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine involves regrowing and replacing human organs and tissues. Within the next ten years, the use of regenerative medicine could change the outcomes of many chronic diseases such as diabetes and any type of condition that relates to organ transplants. There are several problems that often occur with organ transplants. These currently include long waiting lists, the need for anti-rejection drugs, and sometimes tissue rejection. Regenerative medicine will impact the future of medicine and science in a variety of ways.
- Improving Supply Chain Accommodations – Regenerative technologies normally require special capabilities such as cryogenic or cold chain handling and storage. Companies solving these storage and production issues will have stronger distribution channels and likely gain a larger share of the market.
- Increasing Late Stage Clinical Trials – Phase II trials are often the riskiest in the development of new drugs and technologies. Late stage trials in regenerative medicine will likely rise, and as these rise, the increase in the approval of more regenerative therapies will also increase.
- Forming More Mergers – Smaller companies and research organizations that continue to develop advancements in regenerative medicine will become more attractive to larger organizations. When these promising developments emerge, larger companies will acquire smaller ones to rejuvenate and expand their business model.
5. Cancer Therapy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CCD) states that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States with close to 600,000 cancer deaths annually. The future of healthcare tech will include exciting new cancer therapies. Cancer immunotherapy involves using parts of an individual’s natural immune system to treat cancer. There are several ways clinicians can use cancer immunotherapy to improve outcomes.
One approach is to take a person’s immune cells and engineer them to create chimeric antigen receptors. These cells are specifically for fighting cancer. This technique already has success in treating once untreatable blood cancers. The future will hopefully include using this method to treat a variety of other cancers including breast, ovarian, colon, and pancreatic.
We may even one day have cancer vaccines. The key is to create a vaccine that elicits a specific response toward a malignant tumor. It’s important to note that cancer therapy and cancer vaccines will not entirely replace chemotherapy. Chemo will still help shrink the tumor in preparation for receiving the rest of the therapy. More research needs done to find out how to change different types of tumors so they can become as receptive as possible to the immunotherapy.
The future of healthcare tech will likely involve several important strategies for improving health and fighting disease. Breakthroughs are already occurring, offering safer ways to manage pain, exciting new treatments for spinal cord injuries, and ways to more easily predict Alzheimer’s. Advances in regenerative medicine and cancer therapies are also on the horizon. These developments will improve the health and lives of potentially millions of individuals.