The Future of Medical Technology is Exciting

Blog / The Future of Medical Technology is Exciting

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    Nils Widal
    Nils WidalOctober 5, 2021

    Digital Health and Cloud Platforms Advocate and Entrepreneur.

    The pace of medical technology and science innovation has been steadily increasing for decades. Each new discovery or iteration brings with it fresh opportunities. 

    Whether it’s better treatments, more effective scanning and diagnostic technology or how we share and interact with information. 

    More recently technology has been making inroads into areas that border on science fiction. Exoskeletons, artificial skin, bionic limbs and more could be just a few years away from changing the lives of millions.

    However, there are incredibly new medical technologies being developed every single day. The future of healthcare undoubtedly lies in medicine and technology working in partnership. Clinicians need to be prepared for the emerging technologies and their applications. Not least because doing so will save lives.

    Of course, there are some who are concerned that sci-fi plotlines could become a reality along with the technology. Rogue AI and robotic nurses going on a rampage however are far from ever becoming a reality.

    But no matter how much uncertainty surrounds new technology and how it can be used (or misused) there is no escaping the leaps in medical technology that lie ahead.

    Medical Technology

    Artificial Intelligence

    Artificial intelligence has the potential to change modern medicine completely. IBM’s Watson, for example, can not only effectively diagnose patients but it’s training clinicians to ask better questions.

    This subtle but important shift in Watson’s behaviour makes diagnosing conditions both more accurate and quicker which can be the difference between life and death. What’s more, the focus of Watson being used to augment clinicians (not replace them) shows that AI is maturing and being used in more strategic ways. 

    More recently Google’s Deep Mind created an AI that could identify breast cancer. In trials using pre-selected data sets it, on average, outperformed human radiologists by 11.5%.

    These are just two examples of how artificial intelligence will advance healthcare over the coming years. 

    AI will be able to develop new, more effective medications as it will be able to simulate, analyse and adjust potential vaccines thousands of times a day.

    Similarly, AI can be utilised for medical imaging, mining and maintaining medical records or even monitoring diagnoses to spot looming pandemics.

    While we’re a long way off a Hollywood-style artificial intelligence, increasingly artificial or virtual intelligences will be used to run hospitals. They will allow processes to be streamlined and the right information to appear in front of the right people. 

    No one will get lost in the system because the system won’t allow human interference. Nor will the system be overtired and overworked.

    Virtual and Augmented Reality

    These two established technologies are only just finding their feet both commercially and in the medical sector. However their potential applications are significant, not least because the technology is getting cheaper.

    Combined with robotics, virtual reality could allow surgeons to operate on patients without the need to be in the room. This would significantly reduce the risk of infection and increase positive patient outcomes.

    Simply because virtual reality could allow surgeons to visualise the entire area when operating on a patient. Rather than just what they can see in front of them or on a screen.

    According to the Harvard Business Review conducted in October 2019, surgeons using VR saw a 230% increase in overall performance. They were also faster and more accurate.

    Whereas VR can help in surgery, AR can help with diagnosis or training. Using technology like Microsoft HoloLens, clinicians will be able to utilise augmented reality to assess a patient’s test results in relation to their body.

    Smart Fabrics in Wearable Tech 

    Currently, hospital patients who require constant monitoring are hooked up to machines by a mass of wires. It’s an unpleasant and often distressing experience for the patient.

    Aside from feeling trapped and shackled to the bed, it reinforces the anxiety that there is something seriously wrong.

    Wearable technology and the use of adhesive smart skin would make it easier for clinicians to monitor patients. It would also be less intrusive, improving patient morale.

    The breakthroughs in thread based transistors will allow clinicians to monitor patients more comprehensively. These smart-threads are linen coated in carbon nanotubes with thin gold wires attached.

    These wires form a source and a drain through which electrons flow. A third wire serves as a ‘gate’, which surrounds the thread and allows current to flow between the source and drain wires.

    The result is wearable technology that allows complete freedom of movement for the wearer, while providing fully flexible multiplexed devices. Thread-based-transistors can be fashioned into logic circuits and integrated circuits which can - in turn - be integrated into thread-based sensors.

    The threads can accommodate diagnostic devices that are so thin and sensitive they can integrate with the biological tissues they are measuring. This means that these smart threads can not only be worn but inserted into the human body.

    This could allow wireless monitoring of irregular heartbeats to brain activity. If this is partnered with microfluidic thread, life-saving medication could be administered the moment the thread detects a problem.

    The applications are significant as the threads can detect skin secretions such as sodium and ammonium ions. Both are signs of heart and kidney problems. 

    This technology would allow patients to be wirelessly monitored, eliminating the need for invasive machinery. 


    Anyone who has seen Star Trek has no doubt coveted a Tricorder. These pieces of technological wizardry seem to do everything from scanning the atmosphere to detect a pulmonary edema.

    For many, they are the med-tech holy grail. A handheld diagnostic device that can identify a problem and recommend a solution. All with a few taps and cool sci-fi noises.

    Smart devices have resulted in handheld medical technology capable of reading heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and more.

    Although the current level of technology is a far cry from a tricorder, the technological leaps in smart devices make it only a matter of time. Not least because a good smart watch can do all the things listed above.

    Advances in sensor technology can turn smart devices into high-power microscopes. Or have the capacity to analyse swab samples and blood work.

    Even an ultrasonic probe can be hooked up to a smart device with the right application to support it.

    When this technology is paired with wearable technology and even established wearable tech, clinicians will be able to consolidate huge amounts of data. This will give them a clearer picture of the challenges the patient is facing and allow for a faster diagnosis.

    Medical Technology

    Brain Computer Interfaces

    One of the biggest challenges that medical science faces is its own limitations. No matter how pioneering a form of surgery can be, some things can’t be fixed.

    Spinal injuries are one such instance. Spinal cord injuries paralyse someone every 4 hours. In the UK alone there are over 50,000 people living with spinal injuries.

    Not only does this have a devastating impact on the individual’s life but on their family too. Moreover, there is an ongoing cost to providing sufficient care that they can live a full and independent life.

    Brain computer interfaces have the potential to bypass the damage to give people back the use of their bodies.

    In truth, BCIs aren’t new technology but recent advancements have refined the technology. If reports are to be believed processing power has been improved by a factor of a thousand.

    True or not, the technology is heading in the right direction. It also leaves the potential for interfacing with technology. 

    This has both medical and non-medical applications. Surgeons with BCIs could manipulate robotic arms with a thought. Or allow someone with a severe disability to manipulate an interface to exoskeleton giving them the means to communicate or move.

    It could also arguably be used to treat brain disorders and understand more complex mental health illnesses. Although this is something of a moral grey area.

    The Speed of Innovation

    Most of this technology is well on its way to becoming a reality, if not commonplace in our hospitals. As other technologies become more established, some of these will also be put to use saving lives.

    But what’s really exciting is the innovations these new medical technologies will inspire next. The next few years will challenge all of us to do our very best work, and we can’t wait.

    At Vertrical we work with developers and engineers to create the next generation in medical technology. Learn more about how we can help or get in touch to speak with a member of the team.



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