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Medical Technology and Treatments to Look for in 2021

19. A gene modulator that is saving lives.  Cystic Fibrosis, also known as CF, is a hereditary condition characterized by thick, sticky mucus that clogs airways… Trista - April 24, 2021
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19. A gene modulator that is saving lives. 

Cystic Fibrosis, also known as CF, is a hereditary condition characterized by thick, sticky mucus that clogs airways and traps germs, leading to infections, inflammation, and other complications throughout the entire body. More than 30,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis alone. CF is caused by a defective cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, or CFTR, protein. A class of drugs for CFTR modulators was developed to correct the protein’s action. However, medications developed before last year had only been effective in a subset of people with specific mutations that made up their CF. 

In October 2019, the FDA approved a new combination drug, called Trikafta, that provides relief for patients with the most common CF gene mutation known as delta F508, which has been estimated to represent about 90 percent of individuals living with the disease. This modulator helps those who take it. Furthermore, it has even been known to make those who were once on the double lung transplant list get removed from that list and removed from oxygen tanks. In 2021, researchers are working on finding out if this drug is effective in patients who have other mutations other than delta F508. 

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18. Helping those with prostate cancer.

About one in nine men in his lifetime will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, definitely not something anyone would want to hear from their doctor when being diagnosed. There has been progress in the last decade when it comes to treating prostate cancer. However, even with that progress, the disease remains the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. That is why it’s imperative to get a physical done by your doctor. It is especially true when you hit a certain age. Alternatively, when your doctor starts to recommend it depending on your health and your family’s health history. 

There are pharmacological inhibitors for cancer treatments, also known as PARP inhibitors. These are used to block proteins called PARP that helps repair damaged tumor DNA in people with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Pharmacological inhibitors are known for their success in women’s cancers. Nevertheless, two PARP inhibitors have been demonstrated to delay prostate cancer progression in men with refractory cancer and DNA repair pathway mutations. In May of 2020, both were approved for prostate cancer. So people who are now diagnosed with this type of cancer can be treated with these inhibitors. 

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17. 3D printing is as fantastic as it sounds.

You’ve probably heard of 3D printing when it comes to making cool new things like toys or sculptures, but have you thought about what if it were possible to make things that would help in the medical community? Because scientists sure have! Three-dimensional bioprinting combines cells, growth factors, and various biomaterials to grow “living” tissues. These tissues mimic the behavior of actual living systems occurring in nature. Thus, their use can and will significantly help simplify the research. Imagine whom all this could help! 

Furthermore, that’s only the beginning and current state of this technology because bioprinting researchers are already looking for ways to print devices, implants, and even entire organs. With its current ability to cut pharmaceutical research costs, it could help 3D bioprinting build and sustain a pathway to becoming a revolutionary health technology in the coming years. Think about it; for example, those on transplant lists wouldn’t have to wait to find a donor that’s a positive match, meaning they should be able to create something that would perfectly fit them. 

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16. It’s not just the name of a movie. 

It may seem like artificial intelligence, or AI, is everywhere. Of course, the world of healthcare is no exception to that. It appears that in 2020, COVID 19 has given health AI a boost. A little over a year ago it was mentioned the applicability of AI in monitoring and identifying epidemics. On December 31, 2019, the AI-driven algorithm of Canadian health monitoring company BlueDot sent the first warning about the coronavirus outbreak, which was about a week before the CDC or the WHO. 

Artificial intelligence is already being applied in various healthcare world areas. Some of these include simulation-driven drug discovery, thermal screening, vaccine development, and diagnostics applications. We expect to see a wide array of AI-powered digital health solutions emerge in 2021, so be on the lookout. Moreover, health technology, data-base, and AI-driven prediction will also likely be used by more insurance companies. Why? To better identify risks and further optimize the plans they offer others. That’s something else we also have to look forward to. 

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15. Keeping healthcare facilities sanitary.

Before Covid 19 came about, we never thought about how germy some places and surfaces could be, even when wiped down frequently. Nevertheless, since the pandemic, it has taken much teamwork to keep healthcare facilities as sanitary as possible. Healthcare providers are looking to a host of tools to tackle the critical tasks of deep cleaning and enforcing good hygiene. They are also changing layouts and the check-in processes to help reduce patient clustering and identify contagious visitors before entering the building. 

Some facilities may include autonomous robots that emit a germ-killing ultraviolet light to decontaminate rooms in 15 minutes and RFID technology to track how long and how often employees wash their hands. More hospitals have started using thermal cameras at their entryways to detect those with elevated body temperatures, a common but not universal symptom of Covid 19. Expect to see more design changes to buildings—for example, transparent glass or plastic walls to view isolated patients. Also, think of tools such as touch screen kiosks and handheld alert buzzers. That way, people won’t crowd a waiting area before a visit. 

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14. Bringing virtual reality closer to real-life situations.

Being put into a virtual world or viewing real-life spaces with digital enhancements isn’t just a game anymore. Medical professionals are finding ways to use augmented and virtual reality, or VR, other than to play games, with just the help of headsets and specially designed software. The pandemic has put a stop to many things, including in-person learning and training. That doesn’t work in favor of those who are in school to learn. So professionals put their heads together and came up with some great ideas that help out many people. 

By using virtual reality, you have the chance to do lifelike surgical training programs. Also, think about supplemental clinical experiences for nursing students. You can use it as a distraction for pain management. Furthermore, it would even have the ability to view the images with a new and detailed perspective. For example, clinicians at the George Washington University Hospital recently used virtual reality to analyze a Covid 19 patient’s lung scans. VR has also gained traction in senior care communities. Furthermore, it is not just because activities such as virtual travel and avatar-led chat rooms may seem like fun. However, engaging and memory-triggering encounters can be highly therapeutic, as well. 

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13. Masks like they’re fashionable.

You probably never thought about wearing a mask while out and about, up until the pandemic hit. Now it’s almost like making a fashion statement. Not only are there different styles, but you can even make them shimmer and stand out, or even match your shoes if you want to. Some companies have started brainstorming and have some cool and great ideas for masks they have created. A company known as Nexvoo announced a face mask called Breeze. It’s not only natural to show off your smile. It also has two silent fans that both circulate and filter the air and a UV light to automatically disinfect the mask while it’s charging. 

A company called AirPop announced a mask called the Active+. It’s a cloth mask with a unique sensor that monitors your breathing patterns from inside the mask and provides information on the air quality from outside. Another company called Razer, most known for its gamer products, made an intelligent mask. Its transparent features active ventilation to circulate and filter the air. The cover contains a built-in microphone and amp to make your speech a little more clear. It also lights up in 16.8 million different colors. 

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12. Cuffless blood pressure technology exists.

Surprisingly, several companies have been marketing various forms of cuffless blood pressure monitoring. This technology has been researched for many years but has yet to find its way into mainstream medical devices. You may be thinking, how can you check your blood pressure without putting a cuff on your arm? Because it’s all, we have known when going to the doctors and having our vitals checked. Nevertheless, it is possible, and it has now been done. The most helpful product was Valencell, whose biometric sensor technology is already used in many devices. 

Valencell has announced a calibration-free, cuffless blood pressure technology used in wearable on the wrist, finger, and even the ear. However, not to be outdone, a Swiss company, known as Leman Microdevices, announces their V-sensor technology, which can be incorporated into a smartphone to measure blood pressure and other vitals by simply placing a finger over the sensor. Biospectal, which is another Swiss company, claims that their software can even accurately measure blood pressure. How? By using the camera on a run-of-the-mill Samsung Galaxy smartphone. 

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11. Digital voice assistants technology in patients’ rooms. 

We have probably all heard of digital voice assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa that have secured a place in consumers’ living rooms. Hospitals and health care systems are starting to invite similar technologies into their patients’ rooms. With tech developments increasingly focused on making them sound natural when speaking with ambient listening capabilities, EHR vendors Cerner and Epic both have inked deals to integrate Nuance’s virtual assistant into their software this year. Epic has also been working on its ambient voice tech called Hey Epic!

Artificial intelligence startup Saykara launched a new voice assistant this year that operates both autonomously and ambiently. This means that it can listen to and understand the context of a conversation between a patient and their physician without being prompted by voice commands, unlike Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. The company does count the New York City-based New York Presbyterian’s innovation arm as an investor. Furthermore, the Seattle-based Swedish Medical Group as a customer. Soon this technology will be in more facilities, helping out more patients and physicians all over. 

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10. A universal treatment for the hepatitis C virus. 

Hepatitis C has become a significant public health issue in the United States, and the CDC classifies it as a “silent epidemic.” It is spread through contact with blood from a person who is infected with the virus. The hepatitis C virus can lead to severe and life-threatening health problems in those infected, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. There is no vaccine for the virus, and those who have the virus have been limited to medication. However, like many other medicines, many treatments were accompanied by adverse side effects. Alternatively, some only effective for specific genotypes of the disease. 

However, there has recently been some positive news for those infected with hepatitis C because a new, approved fixed-dose combination medication has vastly improved hepatitis C treatment. This treatment is more than 90 percent effective for hepatitis C genotypes one through six, and the therapy represents a practical option for many more patients suffering from this virus. If you have hepatitis C, you should speak with your doctor right away about this new treatment and find out if you can give it a try. 

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9. A chip with a lab built-in, so to speak.

Sometimes waiting is the worst part when it comes to lab results from your doctors. So researchers have come up with something clever to help out with that. They think: “if it’s taking too long to get samples to the lab, why not bring the lab to the samples?”. That’s exactly what researchers at Stanford University thought, and so they had developed what they call “a lab on a chip” based on the CRISPR enzyme Cas12. This lab in a chip is about half the size of a credit card, and it contains a complex network of channels smaller than the width of a human hair. 

When this was tested out, it was even able to deliver coronavirus test results in under 30 minutes, which is fantastic. Because some people have had to wait days to get their results back from their Covid 19 test. Why? Researchers say that the test could also be modified to detect other infections, as well. How? By re-calibrating the CRISPR enzyme for a different genetic marker. The Covid 19 pandemic has taught the world that testing is the first test in combating infectious disease. Thus, getting results fast is essential. With a lab on a chip, testing can be done quickly and safely, cheaply, and more efficiently.

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8. Predictive analytics moving into the health care systems. 

The accelerated digital transformation in 2020 means more health care systems now have the technical capabilities to practice precision medicine and inch closer to predictive analytics. Mount Sinai Health System in New York City created a machine learning-powered model. It can identify high risk and the likelihood of mortality among those who are Covid 19 patients. Why? For more efficient patient management. Pittsburgh-based UPMC has been at the forefront of using data analytics. Its clinical data warehouse provides insights to clinicians and patients. By layering on new tools such as AI and machine learning, the health system continuously improves its systems. In turn, technology is bringing them closer to predictive analytics. 

“The use of analytical insights in the healthcare industry is very reactive,” said Ed McCallister, the senior vice president and CIO of UPMC, in an interview with Becker’s. “In the future, Becker’s is” on that the analytic insights will evolve to be used at the bedside. We also envision that analytics will enable us to proactively manage care and our patient population to keep them out of the hospital and healthy. We are already doing this today in some part of UPMC and hope to expand this to all clinic departments and service lines.” 

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7. Digital front doors are becoming a thing.

Since the pandemic started, we have entered a newfound era of social distancing, thanks to Covid 19. To help continue with social distancing in healthcare facilities, organizations have ramped up their digital presence and capabilities to stay connected with their patients, even when they are at home. It means patients are communicating more with their physicians over the internet than face to face. Because of this, and with the “digital front door,” which could be serving as the first impression potential patients have of a health system, the online experience has become a critical component of their overall reputation. 

As hospitals and health care systems start looking to the future, many, such as Greensboro, NC-based Cone Health and SCL Health in Broomfield, Colorado, are investing in a digital front door. That includes the organization’s website. It hosts the online patient portal, telehealth visits, educational resources, scheduling, and more. With an online patient portal account, you won’t even need to call the doctor’s office. You can see them right from there as if you were emailing your doctor. Moreover, you can even send them PDF files and access your health records right from that account. That way, you don’t even have to step inside a clinic’s office. 

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6. A clinic’s urinary incontinence treatment device that works. 

Atlantic Therapeutics, an Irish developer of professional and consumer medical devices, is showcasing its Innovo stress urinary incontinence device at CES 2021. This direct-to-consumer device works by delivering a non-invasive pelvic floor stimulation through wearable technology and has been FDA approved. This technology works to strengthen and reeducate pelvic floor muscles, according to the company. How? By embedding neuromuscular electrical stimulation technology into a pair of shorts that the consumer would then wear. It is better than having to go through life without trying to find a way to help those muscles become stronger again. You can stop constantly worrying about possible accidents. 

Innova said results from the clinical studies had shown that 80 percent of its users experienced significant improvement after just four weeks, and 87 percent were even considered to be “dry” or “near dry” after just three months. Four out of five Innova users also found that this technology had significantly improved their quality of life. So why not try something that may help your quality of life if you are dealing with incontinence? It may just change your life for the better. Besides, it is wonderful that a city can help those in need out, too. 

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5. An air purifier for wherever you go.

There is a new air purifier that will become available this year, and it’s portable! The Luft isn’t only mobile. It also uses UVA LED and photocatalytic technology to eliminate pollen, mold, dust, and pathogens molecules. LuftQI says that the device creates zero unnecessary waste with a replaceable and washable filter. So users only have to remove the filter and gently clean it. There is no need to stock up on disposable filters when you own a Luft Duo portable air purifier. 

The photocatalytic technology allows the device to disintegrate pollutants that are too small for HEPA filters, like formaldehyde, which measures 0.00001 mm in size. Not only that, but it also decomposes things such as molds, VOCs, and pathogens. It can purify the air in a 240 square foot space. Furthermore, it works by simply plugging it into a wall and turning it on with the simple push of a button. LuftQI said that through research conducted by a third-party research lab, the company could find out that the coronavirus cannot survive in the air for more than one hour when near the Luft Due device. In contrast, the virus usually lasts for 21 hours when airborne. 

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4. Health and wellness monitoring on your smartphone.

Binah.ai talked about its artificial intelligence-powered video-based monitoring tools for health and wellness monitoring at CES in January 2021. Binah.ai explains that their technology measures a wide range of vital signs, such as oxygen saturation, heart rate, respiration rate, heart rate variability, and mental stress, all just by using a smartphone’s camera. The smartphone supports vital sign monitoring of anyone above the age of 18 and any gender and skin color. With this type of technology at your fingertips, you wouldn’t need all that equipment to measure each vital sign individually and would save a ton of money, too. 

According to the company, the technology works by applying a unique mix of signal processing and artificial intelligence technologies. Together, they extract vital signs by analyzing signals from the face’s upper cheek region. Furthermore, the process happens in under one minute with medical-grade accuracy. Their platform also includes tools for easy management for anyone who is using it. Users get enhanced reporting and analysis. That makes it easy to work and read. Here is future technology at your fingertips, especially since almost everyone owns a smartphone. 

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3. A detection system that predicts cancer. 

Some people are more prone to certain cancers if it runs in the family, same with Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe you have not been diagnoses, but you could in the future. That’s where Axion Resea stepped up with its AXiR engine, which is an early detection system that predicts cancer and early risks for Alzheimer’s disease. It works by predicting the user’s future health analysis of all their disease risks, big data, and test results. 

It’s not only capable of cancer detection. It has an AI-powered engine that can determine a user’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases. The company made it easy to understand how to read the visual presentation of the user’s disease risk and their future health; they use risk analyses for chronic and other diseases. They are based on several years of medical data and answers to screening questions. Moreover, it is analyses changes of any test data and overlapping health transition map patterns. Why? To produce someone’s immediate and individualized health programs based on risk factors when using the Axir technology.

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2. A touchless thermometer is such a brilliant idea. 

Since Covid 19, thermometers have become a prevalent and essential necessity in people’s homes. A company known as GateDoc took that into account and came up with a brilliant idea for a touchless thermometer. Their thermometers are designed for use by the general public to reduce waiting in lines. That goes for places like restaurants, supermarkets, or gyms. It works by using a touchless sensor to perform a body temperature scan within half a second with an accuracy of about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit. 

To use the touchless thermometer, visitors place their heads 1 to 4 inches in front of the GateDoc. The forehead temperature scanning method then illuminates a green or red light and sound that determines whether someone can enter a building or not. The device connects through an app. That means managers and owners of facilities can receive alerts when someone with a fever detected at their building entrance. Not only does this make the process of taking someone’s temperature easy. It helps to stop the spread of germs since you don’t have to check your temperature physically. 

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1. A CPAP mask selector that can be done from your home.

At CES 2021, Philips is showcasing its CPAP sleep apnea Mask Selector for the first time. The Mask Selector is a clinically validated, 3D facial scanning device that helps healthcare providers fit 9 out of 10 patients with the right sized CPAP mask right from their home. Thus, you don’t have to go to the doctor’s office to fit a CPAP mask. The system is a telehealth solution for sleep apnea. Thankfully for patients, it also reduces the need to be monitored for sleep apnea in-hospital sleep studies. 

The Mask Selector 3D works by capturing 150 pictures of the face. Then, it takes over 100,000 key data points of facial geometry from each image. The data goes through the algorithm of thousands of facial scans from various ethnicities. That way, it can identify the 46,200 points most critical to the mask fitting process. It makes sure that the mask fits each individual just right, without being too loose or too tight. “We can have patients take pictures of their face and give them a mask that fits their face,” Jeroen Tas, who is the chief innovation and strategy officer, said during a CES 2021 press conference. It is essential that you maintain peace and harmony during the pandemic. If you need tips for staying healthy during isolation or quarantine, keep reading. 

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