The field of medical care is an area which sees many fascinating technological advances, though it can sometimes be tricky to implement in real life.
From brain/computer interfaces to organs on a chip there are many exciting advances in medical science that are set to offer patients better care in the future.
Professor Atam Dhawan at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, who is also chair of the IEEE emerging technology committee, has given his opinion on the major areas of advance that are set to revolutionise medicine “within the next decade”.
The professor's top five areas where medicine and electronics are likely to come together are, firstly point of care technologies where medicine can be delivered through means such as health monitoring or telemedicine. Patients will connect with healthcare professionals via computers, which is seeing some uses now with health departments looking to telepresence.
“Treating people this way can be beneficial as a great cost saving but also from a quality standpoint,” he says, though all these things will “depend on computer hardware and software improvements” in order to be fully used in the future.
Secondly optical imaging technologies are highlighted in diagnosing and staging cancer, as well as other diseases, with research into molecular imaging currently underway to focus on discovery and exploration of naturally existing molecular targets of diseases according to Dhawan.
The third area mentioned is bioelectronics, which is also expected to play an increasing role, with bio-nanosensor technology and neural engineering opening up avenues of improving knowledge of neurophysiology.
This also includes the exciting field of neural tissue interfacing with electronics devices.
The fourth area that Dhawan points to is tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, with advancements in stem-cell based therapies and gene therapy which is expected to play a greater role in the "new world" of medical technologies.
Finally medical robotics are expected to increase their presence in medical care in a variety of means, with Dhawan predicting that “robots will develop novel nano, micro and macro devices to assist in diagnosis, surgery, prosthetics, rehabilitation and personal assistance.”
This will mean robotics being implemented in clinical, therapeutic and surgical applications as advances continue with “instrumentation, sensors, actuators and real-time systems”, eventually making a “revolutionary impact in medicine and health care," Dhawan says.