Emerging technologies that are changing the way healthcare is delivered in 2022, reports Rahul Varshneya – the founder and President of custom healthcare software development company Arkenea.
According to Deloitte, US healthcare spending is predicted to grow from $3.8 trillion in 2020 to $11.8 trillion by the end of 2040. Adoption of new healthcare technologies by companies is a key driver for these expenditures. Rise in the digital health industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the way healthcare is delivered in 2022.
From providing remote patient care to healthcare administration and staffing solutions, the medical industry has included technology in every healthcare aspect.
Some of these include telemedicine, robotics for surgeries, EHRs, and wearable technology. This article highlights new and evolving technologies in the healthcare industry in 2022.
Emerging Healthcare Technologies to Lookout For in 2022
Nanomedicine is a branch of medical science that uses nanotechnology for treatment and prevention of diseases. This involves the usage of nanoscale items such as nanorobots, and biocompatible nanoparticles for diagnosis, sensing, delivery, or actuation in a living organism.
Nanomedicine is utilized for the following medical procedures:
1. Smart Imaging
The key focus is to use nanomaterials as agents for functionals and anatomical imaging. Nanomaterials act as contrast agents and provide a view of human structures inside the body. They help healthcare professionals to distinguish between diseased tissues from the healthy ones, thus allowing medical professionals to recommend adequate treatment.
Modalities included under smart imaging are MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT (Computed Tomography), SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), PET (Positron Emission Tomography), photoacoustic imaging, and fluorescence imaging.
Material development is vital for these techniques because nanoparticles are contrast agents that display biological tissues. Nanomaterials are engineered and assigned to specific tissues to produce high level contrasting images.
2. High-Throughput Screening
Nanoparticles are utilized for spotting tissues, cells, and molecules outside a human body. Nanoparticles detect distinctive biological molecules that are associated with a patients’ health. Here, the nanoparticles function as transducers and are coated with ligands for recognizing biomolecules in the biological fluids.
Screening is based on fluorescence labels, surface plasmon resonance, surface-enhanced Raman scattering, electronic read-out, and biochemical assays.
3. Anticancer Drugs
Anticancer drug delivery involves five steps which are defined as CAPIR, which means – circulation in blood, accumulation and penetration in tumor, cellular internalization, and intracellular drug release. The efficiency of a nanoparticle depends on its ability to excel in all five steps. Nanomedicine that accomplishes five steps has a high therapeutic index.
Two features needed for a nanomedicine to deliver effective anticancer treatment are its ability to penetrate inside tumor cells from blood vessels, and to possess the 2R2SP (Drug Retention vs. Release and Surface Stealthy vs. Sticky) properties.
Theranostics is an association of both treatment and diagnosis. Application of theranostics is image-guided tumor resection. Image guided surgeries help surgeons to perform less invasive and safe procedures. Further, nanoparticles are used by the surgeons to label cancer cells, especially small metastatic regions and tumor borders for removal of cancer cells surgically.
Diagnostic nanoparticles are equipped with therapeutic agents for post-surgery treatment. Another usage of theranostics is to insert therapeutic agents in tumor cells and to track nanoparticles for drug delivery. The agents allow non-invasive imaging and provide data on drugs once they are administered.
2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
According to the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), the US is expected to experience a shortage of around 122,000 healthcare professionals by 2032. Hence, during these times technologies such as AR or VR are anticipated to grow.
As per a survey, approximately 50.2 million US adults experience chronic pain every day or on most days. Opioids are used for pain management, however these drugs have side effects such as risk of permanent disability or delay in recovery process. Hence, in these situations VR is an effective tool for chronic pain management in patients.
As per a Cedars-Sinai study, pain scores declined with the usage of VR, irrespective of hospitalization or cause of pain. Participants in the study experienced decreased levels of unpleasantness, pain, or distress and stated the desire to use VR once again.
As per the Harvard Business Review, virtual reality training improved overall surgical performance by 230 percent as compared to conventional training methods. The trained participants of VR completed procedures 20 percent faster as others.
Also, Healium AR, an iOS based app that works on VR and AR, is designed to help with stress and mood, thus helping veterans manage anxiety and stress. Further, AR maps help people find healthcare facilities, medical centers, and pharmacies. Doctors make use of VR and AR to explain operations to patients and the steps taken for their effective recovery.
3. 3D Bioprinting
3D bioprinting consists of a structure that is recreated layer after layer from a biolink, and is seeded with cells or blended with cells post completion of print. As per data, over 120,000 US people are waiting for an organ transplant. Hence, there is an increasing need for an alternative to organ transplant. 3D bioprinting has the potential to curb the waiting list for organ transplant.
For pharmaceuticals, 3D bioprinting speeds up drug testing at low pricing and with improved biological relevance to human beings as compared to animal testing. Also, new developments such as a system for smooth drug delivery and sugar stents for surgeons to link veins are emerging due to 3D printing technology.
This technology offers tools to researchers and doctors for enhanced treatment procedures and to ameliorate patient outcomes. With evolution in 3D printing, patients can use their own cells to print bone and skin grafts, organs, or organ patches.
Apart from these, 3D printing offers the following benefits to healthcare professionals –
1. Customized and affordable bionic prostheses for spine, knee, hips, skull, and more.
2. Less expenses and decreased production costs for bionic prostheses and implants.
3. Personalized medical devices or surgical instruments.
4. Improved implants for neurological and cardiovascular patients.
5. Functional mechanical limbs, improved human bones, and prosthesis designs.
The 3D printed structures are more relevant as compared to 2D in vitro ones. The role of bioprinting expands in various biology fields such as bioengineering, tissue engineering, and material science. Further, the ability of 3D bioprinting to regenerate tissues replaces damaged tissues and organs.
The year 2022 will require us to develop and innovate in the healthcare industry and we can improve quality, continuity, and care by scaling technologically and digitally in the medical industry. Implementing new processes and learning new technology over the outdated ones will change healthcare delivery in this year.