Healthcare organizations are searching for the best tools to improve patient care and, in some cases, reduce healthcare costs. These technology advances may replace obsolete procedures and treatments in the future. However, not all of them are as promising as the following.
Liquid Biopsies to Identify Cancer
Tumor biopsies have long been utilized in the diagnosis of cancer. Biopsies are also used to identify the tumor’s cell type and if it has any genetic alterations that will make a patient a candidate for a specific treatment. However, tumor biopsies require invasive procedures. Not everyone is healthy enough to undergo biopsy. In some cases, the location of the tumor makes it impossible to perform the surgery.
With liquid biopsy, these risks and complications may be eliminated. Liquid biopsies utilize the patient’s blood, plasma, serum, or urine, instead of biopsied tissue. These specimens are easier to obtain and are less risky.
The largest research done on liquid biopsies have produced results that are very similar to traditional tumor biopsies. Also, liquid biopsy can identify mutations associated with resistance to treatment that were not identified by traditional biopsy.
While 2017 is not the year that tumor biopsies will become a thing of the past, these early results of liquid biopsies are promising. It might not be long until cancer can be identified with a simple blood test.
Treating Disease Using the Microbiome
Known to be one of the most exciting innovations of the year, the medical community is finally acknowledging that our health starts largely in the gut.
Bacteria that make up microbiomes, or genetic footprints, help determine a person’s DNA and his or her predisposition to certain diseases. In fact, about 90 percent of diseases can be traced back to a person’s gut and the state of his or her microbiome.
This is why paying attention to gut health is very important. Whenever toxins are stuck in the digestive tract, inflammation occurs. Symptoms like bloating, food allergies, and skin problems then begin to appear. In some people, symptoms of autoimmune diseases appear.
Diabetes Drugs That Can Help Reduce Heart Disease
Millions of people have type 2 diabetes. This year is exciting for those with diabetes as we can see new diabetes medications that can alleviate comorbidities that come along with the condition, such as kidney problems and heart diseases.
Cellular Immunotherapy to Treat Lymphomas and Leukemia
Immunotherapy is becoming a viable option in treating certain kinds of cancers, mainly lymphoma and leukemias. Immunotherapy is a method of stimulating an individual’s own immune system so that strength is restored and the body will have the power needed to attack cancer cells. While immunotherapy also has its own set of challenges, it has proven to be effective in the treatment of lymphoma and leukemia.
Treating Depression with Ketamine
Although natural remedies and prescription medications are available for people with depression, these treatments do not work for some patients. Unfortunately, some end up committing suicide.
The medical community believes that there is hope in ketamine. The drug has been studied over the past few years and has given excellent results. It might become a good option for treatment-resistant depression cases.
3D Visualization and Better Reality for Surgery
Surgeons spend hours with their heads down and backs and necks aching while performing a procedure. They also sometimes have limited vision. Not to mention that a small mistake can be dangerous for the patient.
However, this past year, the fields of neurosurgery and retinal surgery are experimenting new technologies that will allow the surgeon to perform a procedure while his or her is up. 3D visual representations of the subject will also be provided.
This technology makes surgery more comfortable, thereby reducing risks of committing errors. Visual information allows surgeons to be more efficient and gives junior surgeons a better view of what is happening in the operating theatre.
Bioabsorbable Stents for Those with Coronary Heart Disease
Some coronary heart disease patients have metal coronary stents in their chests to prop their arteries open and alleviate blockage in the coronary artery. The stent remains in the patient’s body even after it has done its job. The stent may eventually impede blood flow and make scans and future surgeries hard to do. In some cases, blood clots may form.
Bioabsorbable stents are made of a naturally dissolving polymer, which is much like dissolving sutures. It widens a clogged artery for two years before the body absorbs it.
These advances in the field of healthcare technology are promising. However, it is essential that further studies and trials are made before they are applied and accepted as safe for the population. Let’s wait and see what 2017 has in store for us and whether these innovations in healthcare technology will have a significant impact in the industry.