Healthcare professionals face a myriad of challenges as they strive to advance medical research and work toward a healthier world. Advancing technology, however, is mitigating some of those challenges and potentially opening the way for future breakthroughs in medical science. Take a look at some of the standout technologies that play a critical role in medical research.
Healthcare Information Technology
Data is powerful, but it loses out on its potency if it isn’t properly compiled and made accessible to medical researchers. Healthcare information technology, such as electronic health records and healthcare informatics, may be the key to creating large databases of medical information that comes from patients across a wide area.
Healthcare informatics is an interdisciplinary science that can help public health officials spot troubling trends and address them before an epidemic breaks out. The technology may also serve to spur research about genetics.
Image via Flickr by Yutaka Tsutano
Apple aims to help consumers and medical professionals work together in advancing medical research. An article from Wired explains that Apple’s “ResearchKit is an open-source framework that lets medical researchers create diagnostic apps that tap into the screens and accelerometers on the iPhone.”
The apps currently available on ResearchKit can do things such as measure hand trembling and vocal tremors. There is also an Asthma Health app, a diabetes diagnostic app, and an app that can help to diagnose heart disease.
Patients who use the apps have a choice about whom they want to share diagnostic information with. Medical researchers may be able to view the data from users’ apps, but Apple itself will not be able to get a glimpse of their customers’ state of health.
NASA’s medical research focuses mainly on addressing the unique healthcare needs of men and women who travel into space. However, much of that research has more commonplace applications. NASA’s medical research program, called the Human Research Program, is working toward goals that better all of humankind’s health.
For example, some of NASA’s accomplishments include:
• Small fiber optic scopes that are a good size for use in precise joint surgery.
• Heart pumps that can give extra time to patients who need a heart transplant.
• A heart monitor for outpatients could help cardiologists keep a close watch on their patients and could provide valuable data for further research.
• A new method of cleaning tools that could reduce the number of patients who suffer infections during surgery.
According to IEEE Life Sciences, “Neural engineering will continue to be a major area of research and clinical translational research to impact upon neuroscience and the way neurological diseases and disorders will be treated in the future.”
Neural engineering uses technology that can monitor neural system and help researchers to create models for in-depth study. Potentially, this method of research could give insight into all physiological systems within the human body.
Advancing technology is a cornerstone of advancing medical research. The above technologies offer just a glimpse of some of the exciting tools that healthcare professionals are using to learn more about how to create a healthier world.