We are surrounded and overwhelmed by emerging technologies on a daily basis. These are technologies that are offered for convenience in our routine lives, or required as a necessity to keep society moving. Devices such as mobile phones keep us reliably connected, and there are data systems that ensure we receive our paychecks on time. Additionally, walking into a large retailer’s electronics department fills us with desire and envy – the overwhelming rotating stock of gadgetry assures us that devices will continue to mature and evolve. As consumers, most of this obvious technology is right in our faces; ads, commercials, and society in general reminds us that we want and need them. On the other hand, there are technologies that don’t quite make it into everyday awareness, that are of equal or higher importance. In the medical field, for example, there are routine advancements in technology that help to make hospital visits comfortable, and medical procedures beneficial.
A recent study from the W.P.Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows that wait times have been reduced by 22 % in emergency rooms by using electronic medical records vs. those that don’t. Although not the latest breaking technology in the health care field, advancements in databases, speed, and communications makes patient information more readily accessible when needed.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is constantly policing, reviewing, and approving new technologies for the medical field. This year (2010), some interesting life changing devices have been approved for use.
The Esteem Implantable Hearing System, is a complete hearing aid system for patients 18 years or older. Unlike most familiar devices, this device is surgically implanted with three parts (the sound processor, sensor, and driver) within the ear to treat moderate to severe hearing loss caused by a defective inner ear function.
Much like the above hearing system, the Implantable Miniature Telescope sounds as if though it has come straight from science fiction. The IMT is implanted in the human eye to magnify objects and improve vision in patients that are 75 years of age or older with end-stage, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although it does not cure the degeneration, the solution magnifies images and projects them onto a healthy part of the retina.
Revolutionary research has also been taking place in the area of prosthetics. Researchers at John Hopkins have been testing prosthetics for some time, particularly in the area of force feed-back. This technology allows a prosthetic limb to sense objects and provide a response to the user.
Historically, there have been a number of technological advancements; some that can be clearly described as breakthroughs. Among these many devices, the pacemaker is of significant importance, as is the evolution of the artificial heart – a device that ultimately intends to reduce the demand in organ based heart transplants. Continuing in the footsteps of heart research and care, new advanced technologies such as “a fiber-optic laser equipped catheter to find lipid core-containing plaque on artery walls” is now being used to detect heart disease and prevent heart attacks at facilities including Scottsdale Healthcare.Sources/Resources
FDA: Healthcare Devices
Healthcare IT News