Technology is vital to the healthcare industry. In our article ‘How Technology Has Changed How We Receive Health Care Information’ we pointed out how recent developments have altered how people receive medical services. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Various technologies have been rolled out this year, each one with the end-goal of improving people’s health. So with that in mind, here are the top five health innovations for 2018.

Genome Sequencing for a Cause

In its news report about the Wired Health conference in London, Medical News Today highlighted the efforts of the company Heterogeneous to make sense of the ocean of data currently available to medical professionals. And they are doing so by offering affordable genome sequencing, the results of which are owned exclusively by users who sign up to the service. They can then pass on their genetic sequence — anonymously, of course — to the researchers of their choice. In effect, they have helped advanced science as a passive participant of the scientific process.

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing gained steam last year, and is likely to improve and remain popular this year and beyond. Number 2 in the ECRI Institute’s healthcare innovations list for 2018, DTC genetic testing can effectively persuade people to purchase healthcare services should a test yield an unfavourable result, like a sickness or a medical condition. This, in theory, can lead earlier diagnosis.

Confirm Rx

Imagine a cardiac monitor that not only interacts directly with a person’s smartphone, but also transmits data to their physician. This technology now exists in the form of Confirm Rx. Created by Abbot Lab, this implantable device is the first of its kind, giving the wearer unprecedented access to their own cardiovascular information. The data is displayed on the user’s smartphone, and is transmitted automatically to their physician. This information is also uploaded to the Merlin.net Patient Care Network at specific intervals.

Smart Inhalers

Improper use of inhalers is commonplace, and that is something that smart inhalers are aiming to rectify. These high-tech inhalers can, among other things, detect and record each use of the device, remind patients when and how to use it, and encourage its proper utilisation. The smart inhaler’s record-keeping feature, in particular, is quite useful as it can provide valuable insights in terms of whether patients are adhering to the specifics of their medication.

High-Tech Healthcare for the Underprivileged

The private sector has made a concerted effort to provide healthcare services to the underprivileged, and last year’s Mastercard-Gilead collaboration represents a huge step towards attaining that goal. As reported here on FTN News, this partnership uses the closed-loop, point-based Mastercard Aid Network in tracking and distributing healthcare funds for the poor. This same technology has been used to much success, notably by Save the Children in their humanitarian efforts in Yemen and in the Philippines. Save the Children have been working in the Philippines since 1981, and their role in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan proved invaluable to the thousands affected by the disaster. Technologies like the Mastercard Aid Network have certainly helped Save the Children, as they now have a fast and efficient means to mobilise and deliver, among others, essential medicines and medical services. This year, this innovative way of distributing relief to those who need it is being used to help refugees in Greece and the Balkans. It is even being used to give financial assistance to small and micro entrepreneurs in Indonesia, and this proves beyond doubt how versatile the network is in terms of fulfilling its end-goals.

This list, of course, is but a partial list of medical breakthroughs that are improving people’s health nowadays. There are many others, like virtual reality for paediatrics, artificial pancreas, gene therapy for retinal diseases, and even scalp cooling to reduce chemotherapy-induced hair loss.

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