One Day, These Technologies Could Save Your Life

Written by Chloe Harwood

Some medical technologies have been truly life changing: antibiotics, vaccinations, and splints all stand as testaments to the power of technology. But it’s been a while since we saw something as game-changing in medicine as these powerful remedies. In many ways, today’s current crop of drugs rely on the cachet of the medical interventions that came before. We still respect the health care system, but not because of what it is achieving today, but rather what it did manage to accomplish in the past.

The problem for drug companies is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to put cures in pills anymore. Sure, statins will lower your cholesterol (a bit), but they won’t get rid of your high cholesterol forever. As soon as you stop taking them, your cholesterol will just go back up again. The same applies to high blood pressure medications. They might keep your blood pressure low temporarily by forcing your arteries to loosen up, but the moment you stop taking them, your hypertension returns.

Pharmaceutical companies are still chasing after the holy grail of medicine: pills that will prevent the occurrence of clinical outcomes, like heart attacks and stroke. But their search is in vain. Many research scientists are coming to the conclusion that it just isn’t possible to package chemicals up in pills and expect them to reverse diseases. The body is just too complex. Thus, we may never get a cure for heart disease or cancer in pill form.

This is why entrepreneurs in other sectors of the economy are looking for alternative methods to save people’s lives. They’re investing heavily in new technologies which will not only help treat disease but prevent it too.

Portable Electrocardiogram Monitors

Thanks to advances in mobile technology in mobile medical technologies, many of the machines that used to adorn only the most prestigious medical establishments in the country are now a regular feature of tablets. One great example of this is electrocardiogram monitors.

The purpose of ECG machines is to monitor the heart and check for abnormal rhythm. Experienced professionals can identify abnormal rhythms and determine whether a patient is at risk of a cardiac event. Now though, patients no longer have to travel to hospital to get an ECG. Instead, ECG devices can be hooked up to smartphones. A company called AliveCor has developed an ECG device that slots onto a regular iPhone. The attachment is composed of two electrodes that monitor heart output and communicate with an app on the phone. Many companies are now using these apps alongside CPR and First-Aid certification so that they can be ready the moment heart attack symptoms arise. Recently, a mobile app helped determine whether a passenger on a flight was experiencing a heart attack, providing enough time for trained passengers to be ready with CPR.

Keeping Up To Date With Medical News

Each year, millions of journal articles are published in the medical literature. Even if doctors read an article a minute, every minute they were at work, they still wouldn’t get through all of them. The problem, however, is that these articles offer insights into patient care. For every thousand articles, there’s probably at least one that could help improve a particular patient’s situation in some way.

The challenge, therefore, is to find a way to organize them. Now a company called Docphin is trying to help the medical community by presenting papers in the most digestible form possible. Doctors can select their individual fields of expertise and then get the papers that are relevant to them displayed on their dashboard. As soon as an article becomes available in the medical journals, they get access to it.

Blood Pressure Monitors

Blood pressure monitors are nothing new. But monitors that connect to apps certainly are. The reason standard blood pressure monitors aren’t particularly useful is that they don’t allow patients to record their blood pressure throughout the day. Blood pressure, however, can vary enormously depending on the situation, which is why doctors in medical studies always take an average blood pressure reading across several days. This is to make sure that transient elevations and drops in blood pressure don’t affect the overall reading. For instance, if you’ve been walking around for a while, your blood pressure could easily get up to 150/100. But if you’ve just woken up, your blood pressure might be around 110/70.

App-connected blood pressure monitors get around this pesky problem. By recording your blood pressure readings, apps are able to construct average blood pressure over many days and track and graph progress.

FaceTime Apps

Going to the doctor’s office is dangerous. Thanks to the regular flow of sick people, doctor’s offices are full to the brim with pathogens, some of which are resistant to antibiotics. In an ideal world, you’d only visit the doctor in person if you had to. The rest of the time you would stay well out of harm’s way.

Well, thanks to FaceTime, that may become a possibility. FaceTime allows doctors to talk to their patients face to face over the internet. The idea is to use the app to encourage patients who might be suffering from life-threatening conditions to come forward and speak to medical experts. It is also hoped that FaceTime will help save lives in rural areas. People who are a long way from the nearest hospital could benefit from getting telemedicine advice if somebody is having a stroke.

Around The Clock Patient Monitoring

In the past, doctors would check in on their patients’ vital signs every few hours or so. But with improvements in connectivity and technology, they can be kept up to date all the time.

New patient monitoring systems from companies like AirStrip consistently take biometric readings of patients, such as their vital signs, waveforms and lab results. They then upload these to the cloud, allowing doctors to monitor the data in real time, no matter where they are. Thus, not only do physicians get the most up-to-date statistics, but they’re also able to anticipate an emergency and be on the scene quicker.

About the author

Chloe Harwood