Healthcare has historically evolved at a slower pace as compared to some other industries. Technology, in contrast and as many of us have witnessed, has often evolved rapidly. When the two areas collide, as they are doing today, the healthcare industry will witness revolutionary changes. In the past few years alone, we have witnessed an abundance of technology making its way into healthcare. From robotic limbs to 3D printed skin, these disruptive advancements are changing the way healthcare is delivered and measured. With coming innovations, the healthcare industry will reach new, and heretofore unimaginable, heights that will potentially help millions of people in ways that weren’t realized previously. Here is just a small sample of technologies that are being developed in the healthcare sector today.

Service Robots

Service robots are being developed to do many things from helping a patient eat to administering medications. Although service robots have been around for a number of years, they are becoming more advanced. As quoted in The Wall Street Journal, thousands of service robots will be entering the healthcare industry to assist with basic daily activities such as administering medications and helping with laundry. Try picturing R2D2 from “Star Wars” moving around a hospital or clinic setting.

With the baby boomer population aging, there could be a shortage of nurses and ancillary staff to handle all activities in the clinical setting. This is where service robots will assist with the “less than glamorous” and/or easy tasks, freeing up the healthcare staff to tend to more important patient care activities.

3D Printing

The invention of 3D printing has heralded the arrival of many innovations that couldn’t be imagined, much less realized, before. This technology has great potential in healthcare because of its customizable nature. Currently, the largest 3D-printed healthcare applications are prosthetics, dental implants and hearing aids, all relevant to a large cross section of today’s healthcare population. The opportunities abound. Stay tuned.

Artificial Intelligence

As many of you know, Watson is IBM’s artificial intelligence supercomputer. Today, Watson has access to, or “learns from”, journal articles, medical textbooks and visit notes to refine diagnostic algorithms and produce results. Its cognitive systems understand, reason and learn just like humans do in many respects.

Future artificial intelligence systems, like Watson, will help drive more informed decision-making and diagnostic accuracy. These systems will be able to provide clinicians and researchers with real-time high-quality information. It’s not a far reach to believe that this will improve patient outcomes, lower treatment costs and continue to accelerate our progress toward value-based care.

Hackathons

Although not technically a tech product, hackathons are helping to create better tech products by solving real world problems in the healthcare field. Because of these events like MIT Hacking Medicine, software developments, hardware inventions, cloud systems, apps and wearable technologies are improving and reshaping the way healthcare technologies are being created in the field.