Technology in Health Care: 4 New Insights

View of a Cyborg hand holding a Medical icon and connection 3d rendering

Policy debates rage over health care – but how is technology transforming its delivery and impact behind the scenes? Four experts offer crucial insights into how technology in health care is revolutionizing the medical field. Read more to discover:

  • The rise of digital health care – and how we can ensure it keeps rising
  • AI wearables that detect epileptic seizures and can help you save a life
  • The woman who designed and engineered an affordable MRI device
  • Robotic limbs that compensate for lost body parts, while using AI to enhance performance

Health Care’s Digital Transformation: The Promise and the Obstacles

The digital revolution has disrupted and transformed every industry, mostly to the benefit of consumers. But health care has lagged…until now. In this article for WIRED UK, Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco, leading global authority on health care innovation, and best-selling author of “The Digital Doctor” (2015), outlines how digital tools increasingly being used by clinicians can make health care less expensive and more effective. While we must preserve patients’ privacy, he argues, we cannot build digital “firewalls” between patients and providers that hinder the former’s ability to access vital information. In two other recent articles, both in JAMA, Wachter makes the case for optimism about digital health care, and highlights the importance of creating a digital learning healthcare system, one in which we learn lessons from every click.

How AI Wearables Can Save Lives

Wearable technology is already in widespread use when it comes to tracking exercise and monitoring heart rates. Dr. Rosalind Picard, director of the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing Research Group, says we can – and should – go further. In a powerful TED Talk, Picard illuminated the heart-wrenching examples of people with epilepsy whose lives were saved – or could have been saved – through AI wearables. We now have the technology to proactively and closely monitor many vital signs of the body, even while sleeping, and alert others if there is an emergency. These developments can lead clinicians and individuals to better understand what triggers various medical ills, helping to preempt potentially fatal epileptic seizures

A Revolution in Medical Imaging

We often hear about how rising drug prices are driving the spiraling cost of health care. But even an MRI scan, essential to spotting and monitoring disease within the human body, is costly. Futurist, inventor and entrepreneur Mary Lou Jepsen – who is only alive today because a benefactor funded an MRI scan that identified a deadly brain tumor – has dedicated herself to developing inexpensive technology that uses light to see deep into the body and brain. In a recent interview with Fox News, Jepsen elaborated on her breakthroughs in affordable, non-invasive medical imaging – while also offering insights into another dimension of her technology: its ability to project people’s thoughts in physical form.

Robotic Solutions to Losing Limbs

Losing a hand or arm could once mean losing one’s ability to physically function. For a musician, this could be devastating. But Gil Weinberg, a pioneer in “Creative AI” and leading authority on the use of robots in musical arts (he puts the “art” in artificial intelligence!), has been at the forefront of developing robotic limbs that can actually enhance performance. One of his inventions, a prosthetic hand that also uses AI to learn and play instruments on its own, was featured in a brief video documentary by The Atlantic. Though Weinberg focuses on the artistic expression of AI, his innovations could be more widely employed by health care professionals treating those who have lost body parts: all the more reason for medical professionals to pay close attention to the latest developments in AI.

A Brighter Future for Health Care

The state of health care may seem bleak as rising costs are coupled with comparatively poor outcomes. But as Wachter, Picard, Jepsen and Weinberg show, technology may be the cure for both these ailments.

Brian Sherry: