by Aaditi Kapre

As we progress into 2021, yet again software finds the top place in the industry in terms of growth and GDP. Many niche fields such as AI, robotics, machine learning, data analytics are integrated with the plethora of services that satisfy our everyday needs. In this article, we explore the co-dependence of healthcare and computing especially in the wake of the pandemic where efficient, hands-free cost and remotely practicable methods are the priority. Researches in computing are expected to save more than $150 billion by 2026 in healthcare. Here’s a brief look at some such developments :

One of the major trends in healthcare involves managing patient medical history data records, and analyzing the patterns through AI algorithms for accurate diagnosis, and designing the best-fit treatment plan.

Here are some such projects which serve the purpose:

  • Nightingale, a data storage and processing project by Google Cloud and Ascension. The system is used to suggest treatment plans, recommend replacement or removal of a doctor from the patient’s health-care team, and administer policies on narcotics.
  • Abtrace, another such example, processes healthcare data through an augmented decision-making tool, comparing it to billions of data points and presenting a recommendation for which, if any, antibiotics should be prescribed.
  • The Pexxi Company is developing an online platform that enables women to take control of their hormonal health by understanding each women’s unique hormonal profile via health assessments and at-home hormone / DNA testing. They have created an algorithm that recommends prescriptions and treatments, track symptoms, and provides ongoing monitoring and support.
  • Genpact UK has been paid a tender of £1.5m to develop an AI tool to sift through the high volume of reports of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Microsoft announced AI for Health, a five-year, $40 million program that aims to help healthcare organizations leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to boost the health of patients and populations worldwide. Through AI for Health, they will support specific non-profits and academic collaboration with Microsoft’s leading data scientists, access to best-in-class AI tools and cloud computing, and select cash grants.

With key players investing in the AI game and the gift of automation in breezing through large amounts of data, demand for algorithms and machine learning is only growing with time.

Robotics gave some sensational developments that are taking the world by a storm. For instance, robotic surgeons like the da Vinci System, Use magnified 3D high-definition vision and controls that strap to a surgeon’s wrists and hands and make tiny, exact incisions that human hands might not otherwise be able to make. Hospital-acquired infections are another widespread problem in healthcare that could be improved with robots. To combat this problem, the Xenex, an automated and portable robot, is used to disinfect entire hospital rooms in minutes using pulsed, full-spectrum UV rays that kill a range of infectious bacteria. PARO, an animal pet robot, is used extensively with elderly patients with dementia and has been proven to reduce stress and provide comfort to anxious patients. It can respond to its name, enjoys being stroked, and, over time, develops a customized, pleasing personality tailored by its memory of previous interactions. Yet another example, The Cyberknife is a robotic surgery system that delivers radiation therapy to tumors with sub-millimeter precision, now being used to treat cancer at hospitals and treatment centers all over the U.S. It can deliver radiation to a tumor, repositioning itself at many minutely different angles to target the tumor from all sides without having to reposition the patient. Besides this, robotic exoskeletons are being used to help paralyzed patients walk again, which is nothing short of a miracle. These robots are out to change the world and, with staggering discoveries continuously being made, testify to a vast scope of robotics shortly.

Portable devices like blood pressure and glucose monitors which are now household items, and smart wristbands tracking heart rate, sleep patterns, and vital metrics are now made mainstream because of the advancements in the embedded systems. Embedded systems combined with the internet of things have led to intelligent management of information. It has also made remote proctoring of patients feasible thus reducing the need for numerous hospital visits.

Nanotechnology deals with materials at the subatomic level or as in objects that are just a few nanometres in size. So accordingly Nanobots and ingestible chips can be administered to monitor very specific parts of the body, which isn’t possible through radioactive and ultrasound scans. It also talks about outcomes of microscopic amounts of drug prescription and next-gen imaging which can detect cancers at early stages. Nanotechnology has a vast scope but is a new research field where correlation with computing is yet to be fully realized. Some applications of computing in nanotech would be storage, management, analysis, and extraction of data effectively. The advancements in imaging help better realize interactions of subatomic nanoparticles in 3D which gives information on the behaviour of these particles. Elite universities like Cambridge and the imperial college of London are actively researching carbon nanotubes that have a wide range of applications from electronic devices to pharmacy, drugs, and bio-molecular interactions.

These advancements are a clear indication of how integral computing is in improving healthcare by leaps and bounds. But there are questions raised about the ethics of data security and selling data to third parties, inhibitions on trusting robots with your healthcare needs and surgeries, and the negative effects of the gadgets that heavily rely on electronic and magnetic field radiations. The answer to these questions always lies in further research and innovations and as of now there is no denying that computing is ready to integrate itself deeply into healthcare and aims at providing better services, diagnosis, and treatment, and improved quality of life.




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