The latest breakthrough in medicine is something that most of us have already gotten used to. Not a day goes by when the media fails to inform us of the latest scientific discovery. However, we seldom pay attention to the fact that these successes are increasingly underpinned by technology. If we consider the number of patients cured, it turns out that the computer is gradually becoming the penicillin of the 21st century. The medical industry uses technology on so many different levels, and Health Technologies (HealthTech) is such a broad field that it would be difficult to describe all the areas of interest here. So I will try to give a rundown of just a few of the main trends that seem to be the best solutions which are currently available and used by our customers.

Wearables and Bluetooth Low Energy

The smartphone has made us unable to function without that little computer which we carry with us essentially 24/7. In terms of medicine, it is also a very useful tool for monitoring the condition of the patient and responding in the shortest possible timeframe, which can often be a matter of life and death. However, from a physician’s point of view, the smartphone is only an intermediary, whereas devices placed directly on the patient’s body are of more importance. Help is at hand here from the so-called wearables: watches, fitness bands or glasses, equipped with sensors that monitor the work done by the human body. This data is then sent to an application installed on a smartphone, which analyzes it and takes action accordingly.

The Bluetooth Low Energy standard has proven to be a breakthrough in the use of such sensors, due to its low level of power consumption and fast access to data. Devices with BLE sensors are up to 100 times less energy-intensive than traditional Bluetooth devices. Such devices provide data from measurements to the master device (such as a smartphone) and can work for up to several months without the need to replace batteries. A great example of this technology is the hearing aids manufactured by one of my clients, which can adjust the device’s parameters to the surroundings thanks to the use of sensors (the device is muted in noisy surroundings, eliminates noise and interference, etc.). The device can also be regulated through a dedicated app, and the user can even carry out a hearing test without leaving home.

Another example of wearables would be smart patches that can painlessly apply a precise dose subcutaneously, control blood sugar levels or monitor heart rate, and also detect breast cancer at a very early stage. There are also systems that monitor the movement of the elderly around the home, as well as teddy bears that track the health of children and infants. Hospitals also use patient monitoring systems that automatically monitor the selected parameters so that the administrative workload can be significantly reduced, meaning more time at the patient’s bedside.

Embedded software

From a technological point of view, wearables are part of the wider Internet of Things, the concept of which has been made possible primarily because of the miniaturization of processors, which allows for the production of microcontrollers. Built-in microcomputers with embedded software control the operation of everyday items from the inside. With the help of solutions such as BLE they can also communicate with each other, with users and with doctors as well.

Embedded software is, however, a completely different dimension of programming capabilities. This is so-called low-level programming, which requires the developer to be familiar with the equipment, especially microprocessor architecture. As well as that, vast experience is needed, as creating such software is time-consuming and prone to errors. However, it is low-level programming that allows for the furthest–reaching code optimization, in terms of both the speed and volume of the program.

Augmented reality

Another area to be developed by medical engineering is augmented reality, a system that connects the real world with the computer-generated world. In augmented reality, the image from the camera is superimposed on a real-time, 3D-rendered image which can be displayed on a computer screen or phone, but also with customized VR goggles specially designed for this purpose. So far, this technology has gained the most popularity through the Pokémon game, but the potential of this solution is enormous in medicine as well. It is possible to imagine medical imaging in which the doctor uses such glasses to see the structure and functioning of the patient’s internal organs. Tools of this type can also be used to support surgical operations, allowing for greater precision during the operation.

Predictive analysis

Data analysis is undoubtedly another important area that supports progress in medicine. The enormous computing power of today’s computers makes it possible to analyze medical data at an unprecedented level. IBM Watson Health is a great example here. IBM Watson is a supercomputer with 2880 processor cores and 15 terabytes of operating memory, combining algorithms for natural language processing, searching for information, knowledge representation, automatic inference and machine learning. Watson Health is equipped with medical knowledge based on 600,000 test results, more than 2 million pages published in scientific journals and 1.5 million patient records. The system specializes in the diagnosis of cancer and boasts 90% efficacy in detecting cancerous lesions, which is a highly impressive statistic. Not only does the system make the diagnosis, but it also recommends treatment based on information pertaining to what has been the most effective treatment for people with similar illnesses in the past.

The above mentioned technologies are by no means exhaustive in terms of solutions and their possible use in medicine, but at the moment they are the most widely used in the field. Of course, it is expected that new technologies, new ideas, and new tools will appear in a very short time. In the context of health care, perhaps more than anywhere, this is obviously very good news and it is worth keeping an eye on these trends, as they affect all of us.

At JCommerce, we offer custom health care software development with many previous happy clients. We have worked with many companies in the UK requiring bespoke HealthTech applications that only our expert developers were able to complete.

Author:
International Business Manager

Experienced manager, working in IT technologies in the UK and Poland for over 10 years. In JCommerce responsible for gaining new strategic clients and international sales. Highly educated in cross-reference areas of IT, electronics, business development, sociology and psychology. Privately fan of Scottish weather and Slovenian mountains.

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    - I have the right to access the content of my data, including to receive copies of it and correct it, delete it and limit the processing of it, as well as the right to transfer it, the right to object to the processing of it, and the right to withdraw my consent at any time. However, the withdrawal of my consent shall not affect the lawfulness of processing carried out on the basis of the consent in question prior to its withdrawal;
    - A statement of withdrawal of my consent to the processing of personal data should be submitted to the headquarters of JCommerce Sp. z o.o. or sent to the following e-mail address: zgody@jcommerce.pl. The withdrawal of consent to the processing of personal data shall result in the inability to fulfil the aforementioned processing purposes;
    - The personal data provided shall be shared by JCommerce Sp. z o.o. with the company’s authorised employees and individuals collaborating with JC under civil-law contracts, who are involved in the implementation of the purpose of the processing;
    - The data provided shall be processed on the basis of the relevant provisions of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation), ‘GDPR’;
    - Should you have any questions regarding the protection of your personal data, please contact us by e-mail: odo@jcommerce.pl;
    - The personal data provided shall be processed for the purpose for which it was supplied, or until I express my objection in this regard. In the event of filing an objection, JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall no longer process my personal data for the aforementioned purposes, unless it can demonstrate that there are valid and legally justified grounds overriding my interests, rights and freedoms or my data is necessary to establish, pursue or defend a claim, if any;
    - I have the right to file a complaint to the supervisory authority if I consider that the processing of the aforementioned personal data violates the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation of 27 April 2016.