Small steps till medicine industry

Digital innovation has taken the world by storm. From smartphones and iPods to more, several fields have reaped its benefits. Yet, the medical landscape had to wait for quite some time before it started benefiting from this revolution. The medical professionals as well as the tech people soon realized that the future of surgery as well as other medical procedures no longer was solely within the hands of surgeons and those specializing in the medical domain. Instead, there was a growing need to bring together the emerging digital technologies and the medical domain so that the convergence leads to faster, better and more efficient diagnosis and treatment. Apart from improving the outcomes of medical procedures, such convergence was also believed to benefit patients – from making them understand the procedures better to allaying fears and doubts – if they had any.

Importance of encrypted data to leverage such digital innovations

From the next-level surgical robots to doctors collaborating on a surgery via telepresence or using connected robots to assist each other, high-speed internet is needed. But since sensitive data of clients will be shared and often property medical or technical information too may need to be passed on between the teams involved, it becomes extremely important to secure the internet connection. It becomes especially important when the Wi-Fi in question is a public one. If you don’t want anyone snooping on your patients’ confidential data or getting their hands on your proprietary medial or tech information, ensuring robust cyber security while using public Wi-Fi is a must-have as it would encrypt such data and keep them away from falling into the wrong hands.

Let’s take a look at the various digital innovations that have helped the medical field, especially the surgical domain, during the last few years.

3D visualization

Using 3D visualization that let the doctors get a more detailed and useful visualization of a patient’s critical structures such as major nerves, vessels, or other vital tissues, it became possible to handle complex surgeries with better precision and in a way that was comparatively easier than before. An instance was removing the tumor of Jim Vreeken – a web designer, which involved 3D modeling in medicine and the technology of VR (virtual reality). 

A virtual reality headset was used to navigate Jim’s cranium and take a closer look at the invasive tumor inside it. The technology was used to observe how the tumor had enveloped the trigeminal nerve by magnifying it several times of its actual size. Thanks to 3D modeling and visualization, it was possible to rotate the virtual skull and trace the path the doctors had selected to surgically remove the tendrils of the tumor.

Medical professionals often use 3D printers to print detailed models of patients’ body parts (by using scans of actual patient anatomy), which let them plan and practice their procedures before they do it in real-life. Being able to observe, hold and rotate an exact replica of their patients’ nerves, bones, tissues, etc. provide the surgeons with a new angle on their cases by giving them information that might not be visible on a flat scan.

These 3D models not only act as visual aids for the surgeons and their teams but can be even shared with patients to help them have a deeper understanding of their imminent surgeries.

Robotics

In 2018, more than 1 million global procedures employed over 5,000 surgical robots. These procedures spanned general surgery, orthopedics, multiple oncology, gynecology, urology, neurology, bariatric, thoracic, colon and rectal, otolaryngology, and even hair transplants as well as dental implants. Though da Vinci robot of Intuitive Surgical was perhaps the most talked about in the domain, several other robotic devices of other companies too made their mark. Some notable ones among these are Accuray (in the field of cancerous tumor irradiation), Stryker’s Mako (in orthopedic knee and hip replacement), Restoration Robotics (in hair implants), Stereotaxis (in cardiac catheterization), and MazorX of Medtronic (in spinal surgeries and operative neurosurgery). All these prove that robotic surgery, which was once called a futuristic technology has become today’s reality and a pretty effective and active one at that too.

AI in the operating room

Many have wondered how AI and computer vision can pave the way for safer surgeries by offering effective support for the surgical teams involved in the procedure. They now have an answer as Digital Surgery – a health tech company dedicated to blending digital innovations with the medical field to improve patient outcomes, have announced the world’s first dynamic, real-time AI (artificial intelligence) system designed for the OR (operating room).

The company is putting together the requisite data to power the future of surgery through its proprietary and top-notch surgical procedure road maps that will help the surgical team in the OR to reduce risks and make surgery safer. The company has already developed AI algorithms for numerous procedures across orthopedic, bariatric, and many other surgical specialties and will make its library continue to grow.