Every day, humans find new ways to interact with and improve the world around them. Technology has been used since the dawn of man to improve the everyday life of the average human, from increasing productivity to opening up new worlds of communication and to making health care more accessible than ever. The world of technology grows and changes around us at incredible speeds, shaping our world for the better. In the field of medicine, however, technological advancements have never been more important or exciting. Three recent breakthroughs in modern technology are changing the field of medical care as we know it.
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Virtual reality is a fairly recent technology that uses computer-generated simulations to create three-dimensional images users can interact with. Virtual reality has always been particularly popular among the gaming crowd, but it has more practical and thrilling applications in the world of medicine.
Virtual reality technology can be utilized in numerous ways, from mental health care to radiology. Doctors have been using virtual reality to generate more thorough training methods for their med students, as well as preparing for extensive surgeries or even looking at the developing fetus still in the womb. The 3D simulations create a clearer image than has ever been available before, offering detailed and accurate views into the human body. Additionally, the interactive format gives doctors incredible precision and control. With the help of virtual reality, surgeons are able to map out their surgeries in nearly half the time, giving them more time to prepare for their operations. In addition to helping shave down surgery time, virtual reality technology is assisting in the actual operations as well. At Stanford University Medical Center, surgeons are using the technology to operate on newborn babies born without pulmonary arteries, which are necessary for the distribution of oxygenated blood through the heart and lungs. But virtual reality technology can also help before babies are born. In fact, after several successful test runs in Brazil, physicians have started the process of phasing out ultrasounds in favor of the more accurate 3D simulations offered by virtual reality technology.
In 3D printing, a virtual model of an object is printed into reality using hundreds of tiny slices of material that stick together to form a larger object. 3D printing technology has innumerable applications from producing auto parts at low cost to helping build rockets for NASA. In medicine, 3D printing technology has led to several remarkable advancements in the field of medical care.
The ability to turn virtual models into reality has opened numerous doors across all fields of medicine. In orthopedics, 3D printing has been used to create customized prosthetic limbs at a reduced cost. This not only makes prosthetics more tailor made to suit each individual patient, but it also makes them far more affordable. Thanks to 3D printing, physicians are able to offer high quality prosthetic limbs to more patients and to patients who otherwise would not have been able to afford them. 3D printing has also been able to generate actual human organs. Cardiologists have used 3D printers to manufacture full scale models of the human heart, as well as produce fully functional heart valves for patients in need. Using accurate 3D models of human organs can help dramatically in the training of new doctors and surgeons.
3D printing has proven to be invaluable in the medical field, reducing costs across the board. Medical tools and equipment, such as umbilical cord clamps, can be printed at a low cost, benefiting low income and poverty stricken areas all across the world. In addition to reducing the cost of manufacturing medical supplies, 3D printing technology has helped to cut down the operating time on life saving procedures. The time it takes to separate conjoined twins, for instance, has drastically decreased thanks to 3D printing. Whether it’s producing ear cartilage or skin grafts and entire human organs, 3D printing is changing the field of medicine for the better.
Artificial intelligence is a field of computer science that specializes in creating machines that can perform jobs that can usually only be done by humans. In some cases, these machines can learn without being programmed. They do this by sensing and perceiving their environments and drawing on a massive field of data unavailable to most humans. Artificial intelligence is an important breakthrough in the world of technology and has been a huge benefit to the medical field.
It’s a simple fact that all medical professionals want better outcomes for their patients. Artificial intelligence is just one way doctors can improve patient experience and outcomes. The ability for medical machinery to learn and improve over time will lead to many more breakthroughs in the way medical care is given. These machines will improve the entire medical field by reducing the amount of time doctors have to spend running tests and procedures that can be done through artificial means. This allows medical professionals to focus on tasks that only human intelligence can handle, increasing productivity and giving patients more of their doctors’ attention.
Artificial intelligence also works by producing more accurate diagnoses, drawing from a much larger database of information than the average physician can. This could potentially result in more rapid identification of medical conditions, including emergent situations, which will lead to much swifter interventions and quicker treatments. Radiologists are utilizing this technology in processing their images. For instance, some radiologists have taught certain machines how to identify fractures in x-rays. MetaMind, a company that specializes in artificial intelligence, has created an algorithm that detects the presence of intracranial hemorrhage, a bleed that occurs in the skull. This is a potentially fatal condition that requires immediate treatment to rectify. Artificial intelligence technology can also be used to quickly combine and scan the various data from x-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans, creating a much more thorough diagnosis in much less time. Artificial intelligence is helping to give patients the best possible care as quickly as possible.