The speed of medical technology innovation is unprecedented. Diagnosticsand surgery are on the verge of a (r)evolution.
The digitization process causes hospitals to minimize their paperwork and adapt all kinds of processes. The subsequent automation improved the speed and efficiency of many operations. It also cleared the path for a more personal care, as digitization and automation allow the staff to spend more time with the patient and personalize medical diagnostics and treatments.
Those problems are also occurring today in accidents with self-driving cars. Drivers neglect the monitoring of the autopilot. Their response is wrong or comes too late. This also happens in contemporary control, says Denis Javaux. ‘Complete reliance on automation makes you lose your skills. A perfect human-automation interaction is critical for a well-functioning control room. ‘
AI and algorithms
Doctors will soon diagnose their patients using complex computer algorithms. Thanks to the emergence and automatic processing of big data – collecting and interpreting data from different perspectives and departments – we will also be able to offer more pinpointed and personalized treatments to the patients in the future. Because today, medication works for some patients but not for others. And, in the future, machine learning and artificial intelligence will enable us to fully shape the 4 healthcare p’s: predictive, proactive, personal and preventative.
‘I do not believe that robots will completely take over the surgeon’s work.’Christophe Mouton, General Manager and President of the Hospital AZ Maria Middelares
Five years ago, recording someone’s DNA cost hundreds of thousands of euros and took weeks to get results. Nowadays, thanks to the computer’s greatly increased processing power, this kind of research costs less than a thousand euros and results can already be obtained after a few days.
Over the next few years, robots will completely shake up the medical world. There will be an advance in care providing and logistics robots: autonomous wheelchairs that drive patients around, self-driving medication carts, transport of medical instruments between departments. And in the near future 3D printing will further accelerate the production of, among others, prosthetics, implants and even tissues.
Nano bots also have a great future in medicine. These mini robots are ingested or implanted. They are used for monitoring purposes, the administration of medication and even precision surgery. And then there are the operation robots. Today, surgeons primarily use them as a tool allowing them to work in a more ergonomic way or in hard to reach places. In recent years, a lot of enterprises invest in semi-autonomous surgical robots that use new imaging techniques, offer the doctor additional advice or guidance and even take over some of his tasks. In other words, the first smart operation robots.
However, I do not believe that robots will completely take over the surgeon’s work. We can never let more complex actions and decisions out of our human hands. The latest technologies can however help surgeons to execute very complex and demanding operations with greater precision and more efficiency. A fascinating future lies ahead.