“Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress.” – Li Keqiang
Innovation is inevitable for an industry to flourish. In the Healthcare Industry, innovation is measured in terms design and development of devices, medicines, new and effective methods of treatment and breakthrough technologies that assist them. With the growing population comes the problem of new diseases, outbreaks, weak immune systems, drug-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses and much more complications. As such, the need for innovation in maintaining good health, monitoring health conditions, new yet cheap treatment methods cannot be disregarded. Moreover, these innovations need to give results that can be seen and interpreted in a jiffy.
Innovation for Good Health
With advancements in science and technology, innovation in healthcare has received a great boost. Using technologies like AI, Robotics, Analytics and more, healthcare is finding solutions to its problems. The year 2018 saw some great feats, innovations, and development. Many wearable and even ingestible devices were made for better health. Here are a few noteworthy ones which are likely to be made perfect in the upcoming year(s).
Electronic Skin, popularly known as E-skin, is a flexible, stretchable, self-healing, wearable skin-like device that can mimic human or animal skin functionalities. They combine information and communication technology with innovative hybrid material and micro-electronic sensors. The successful combination of flexible and stretchable mechanical properties with sensors and the ability to self-heal is aimed at creating a natural look-and-feel skin for prosthetic limbs and robots or humanoids and health monitoring. The year saw semi-conductors being embedded in the patch which could catch and transmit the vital stats of the wearer via micro-LED lights on it.
Medicinal Contact Lenses are perfect for those who are unable to manage their eye-drop routine and in cases where simple eye-drop administration is not enough to treat the condition. Researchers have come up with a new biodegradable polymer contact lens material that can ensure the proper amount of medicine to be delivered accurately for days and probably weeks. The breakthrough innovation suspends medicine in a layer made from PLGA (poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid), a biodegradable polymer. The amount of PLGA regulates the amount of medication that passes through it at any given time. The more the PLGA in relation to the medication, the slower it is released. Such lenses will be the perfect way to treat serious and chronic eye ailments like glaucoma, corneal scarring, corneal ulcers, chronic dry-eye, pediatric lenses and therapeutic or bandage lenses.
Needle-Free Injections are a boon to small kids and adults alike who can’t bear the sight of a needle. Over years the alternative to needles has been tried like patches with micro needles, nasal sprays, inhalers and more. But a needle shot is considered to be the most effective and sometimes the only way to deliver medicine to the body. But the issues are other too like sterilization, ensuring one-needle-one-patient, proper disposal after use, and proper training to those administering it. Researchers have come up with a device that can deliver medicines akin to the syringe-shot minus the needle. The device ejects a high-pressure stream of medicine which enters the bloodstream through the skin without piercing it the traditional way.
Tooth Sensors are wearable sensors or chip that can be mounted and attached to a patient’s tooth to monitor his diet and health in real-time. The sensor can be tuned wirelessly with a mobile device and give information about the glucose, sugar, alcohol and salt intake. The device has three layers with the inner core being the bio-responsive layer which absorbs the food. The outer layers are gold rings. Researchers hope to make these sensors do more than just the current tracking. They would like it to be able to detect nutrients and their amount in the food, also the changes in saliva which can serve as a warning of impending gum and oral diseases.
Ingestible Sensors or monitoring pills give a great view (scientifically speaking) of a patient’s gastrointestinal tract. These devices come in various forms with some loaded with cameras, some with sensors and some with even harmless bacteria. All of these are done to get a better insight into the working and current condition of the human digestive system. These devices can collect and send data pertaining to images and condition which can give the correct information predict the gut health, intestinal wounds, amount of gases and micronutrients, and even colon cancer.
Humans today live a longer life than they used to a century ago. Ensuring that this long life is healthy too lies in the hands of the healthcare industry. Innovations are equipping it to fight with the changing form of diseases. Together, individuals, industries and innovations can make life on earth, better and healthier than ever.