New technology continues to achieve its promise of bringing greater efficiency and effectiveness to health care. Some of the recent innovations impacting health care delivery and outcomes include:
- The internet of things – Wireless sensors linked by the internet of things can enable better monitoring of inpatients and remote management of chronic conditions. The internet of things also enables the automatic ordering of medications and supplies.
- Big data – Machine learning enables predictive medical analytics and diagnostics to assist in clinical decision making. Big data can supplement human efforts with a sophisticated quantitative approach for diagnosing complex cancer cases. Meanwhile, medical researchers have applied a machine learning algorithm to correctly predict relapse and remission rates for leukemia.
- Artificial intelligence – Radiologists are beginning to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist in diagnostic imaging by providing imaging informatics and enabling advanced interpretation.
- Blockchain – Blockchain is a decentralized electronic ledger that constantly grows as “blocks” of data are added to it. Each user automatically downloads an updated copy of the blockchain and new blocks are shared with all users. The potential to securely store, share and update health care information using blockchain may solve some of the challenges of managing such information.
- Augmented and virtual reality – These applications can help patients see how a drug works in real time in their bodies while researchers monitor its effects on virtual reality equipment. Virtual reality is also being used in behavioral therapy to help patients address and overcome emotional challenges.
- Drones – Nursing staff can gain additional time for tending to patients by using drones to deliver drugs and medical supplies. Drones can enable the fast delivery of drugs, vaccines, antivenin and other medical supplies to first responders and medical professionals in times of disaster, war and other emergencies.
- 3D printing – Medical applications of 3D printing are being used to print tissues with blood vessels, personalized drugs, heart valves and tailor-fitted heart sensors, bone grafts, ear cartilage, cranium replacements, customized casts, and low-cost, easily customized prosthetic devices for patients in developing countries.
 Disruptive technologies list compiled from several sources:
- “In 2017, IoT is Still the Next Big Thing in Healthcare,” by Brian Buntz, Internet of Things Institute, Jan. 5, 2017. Available at: http://www.ioti.com/iot-trends-and-analysis/2017-iot-still-next-big-thing-healthcare
- “9 Healthcare Predictions For 2017,” by Reenita Das, Forbes, Jan. 6, 2017. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/reenitadas/2017/01/06/9-top-healthcare-predictions-for-2017/#7c18d3705e68
- “6 Surprising Trends Shaping the Future of Pharma,” The Medical Futurist blog, undated (2016-17). Available at: http://medicalfuturist.com/6-surprising-trends-shaping-the-future-of-pharma/
- “Twelve Things We Can 3D Print in Medicine Now,” The Medical Futurist blog, undated (2016-17). Available at: http://medicalfuturist.com/twelve-things-we-can-3d-print-in-medicine-now/
- “Medical Drones Will Thrive in Healthcare: A Safe Road to Health,” The Medical Futurist blog, undated (2016-17). Available at: http://medicalfuturist.com/medical-drones/