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From 5G ambulances to wearables – How MedTech is transforming healthcare

We are in the midst of a remarkable period characterized by rapid technological advancements that are poised to change our lives. These advancements span across numerous fields, including artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, internet of things (IoT), biotechnology, virtual reality, and many more. The Covid pandemic has expedited the adaptation to these new emerging technologies in all critical spheres of life – be it education (EdTech), technology-driven agriculture practices (AgTech), or offering advanced healthcare solutions through medical technology.

MedTech (covering both the devices as well as the processes they enable) is one such segment where the innovation churn has been in top gear in recent years. In the past, MedTech has been broadly looked at as an engineering specialty comprising the best of mechanical and electronic parts to offer focused solutions. The arrival of advanced technological platforms like 5G, IoT, Data analytics, and Blockchain have triggered the emergence of new applications which are cutting edge in nature and are bound to transform the entire diagnosis and treatment value chain in the times to come.

In the recent past, ambulances were used primarily for carrying patients to hospitals with only the basic treatment support available with paramedics during transit. Therefore, the actual treatment only began when the patient reached the hospital, which often led to loss of critical time. The arrival of the 5G era has ushered in the deployment of advanced 5G-enabled ambulances, enabling the patient, the access to doctors attention from the moment they enter the ambulance. Such ambulances have trained paramedic personnel who immediately connect with the doctor via video applications, explain patient vitals and take the doctor’s advice for the best possible in-transit treatment which can be provided. The doctor and other medical staff in the meanwhile make necessary preparations for the treatment of the patient once they reach the hospital. In other cases, for example in a joint replacement surgery, technologies such as computer-assisted navigation or the use of customized patient jigs have made procedures less invasive, safer, less painful, more precise and more effective. These technologies also reduce the recovery time for the patient as compared to the traditional procedures.

On a macro basis, we have functionalities emanating from the MedTech platforms resulting in remarkable improvements in terms of patient outcome. The use of Blockchain, for instance, has enabled digital record-keeping of patients’ health which are readily available to all health providers – hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, pharmacy firms, and physicians, while at the same time improving health data security, privacy, and interoperability. Artificial Intelligence (AI) too is adding to the unfolding transformative wave by leveraging machine learning algorithms that help in analyzing vast amounts of data and making predictions, assisting in diagnosis, and personalizing treatment plans.

Then there are wearable technologies which help users track and monitor their vitals. As these devices continue to gain widespread acceptance and become increasingly prevalent, users are now equipped with enhanced readiness to promptly address unexpected disruptions that may arise without warning. Another MedTech led innovation has been in the home healthcare space which has enabled patients to receive medical care, assistance, and support, within the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

Experts from healthcare fraternity suggest that the recent advancements brought by Medical Technology are just the tip of the iceberg. These innovations have the potential to considerably improve patient outcomes, enhance efficiency, and increase affordability. However, with these advancements come challenges related to privacy, security, and ethical considerations. As the MedTech landscape continues to evolve, it is crucial for stakeholders to navigate this disruption responsibly, ensuring that technology is harnessed to its fullest potential while prioritizing patient safety and equitable access to healthcare. By adeptly embracing and harnessing the potential of these transformative technologies, the MedTech sector can spearhead the healthcare revolution, bringing substantial benefits to patients, healthcare practitioners, and society at large.

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