Apr 24, 2017

News in Health Technology: May

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

2017 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for technology in healthcare and we’re not even half way through yet.

It seems that every week brings us new innovations and inspirations, using both new and existing technologies to improve healthcare across the board.

 

From heart pumps, drones and cameras through to discoveries in ovarian tumor detection, these are a few of the stories that caught our eye recently.

Mechanical heart pumps may be more than just a short term solution

Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK have discovered that nearly 33% of men fitted with heart pumps recovered enough for them to be completely removed, without the need for a transplant.

 

Pumps are typically used in the time leading up to a heart transplant surgery for patients who are diagnosed with heart failure. However, it now seems that patients fitted with the devices actually have their heart functions restored to a level where they may no longer need the surgery at all. Could this pave the way for reversing the effects of heart failure?

Can contact lenses one day measure biomarkers?

Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK have discovered that nearly 33% of men fitted with heart pumps recovered enough for them to be completely removed, without the need for a transplant.

 

Pumps are typically used in the time leading up to a heart transplant surgery for patients who are diagnosed with heart failure. However, it now seems that patients fitted with the devices actually have their heart functions restored to a level where they may no longer need the surgery at all. Could this pave the way for reversing the effects of heart failure?

A new hope for ovarian cancer patients

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new, more sensitive way to detect ovarian tumors through the use of nanoparticles. These manufactured particles are coated with small protein fragments, giving them a coarse surface before being injected into the patient. The particles then collect at any possible tumors site and ‘cleave’ fragments off, which are then passed through urine and detected through simple tests.

 

With most ovarian cancer being diagnosed at late stages, patient survival rates are often poor. Early detection is key, and a strategy like this can be crucial in detecting and analyzing tumors to result in a better prognosis. The researchers are also investigating the possibility of using this approach to detect other cancers and their threat levels, which if successful, could lead towards improved diagnosis across the board. 

New camera technology developed to monitor premature babies

Researchers in Zurich are testing a whole new way of monitoring prematurely born babies using specialized cameras to replace the current method. Currently, babies in neonatal incubators are medically monitored by a series of sensors which create a high number of false alarms due to their sensitivity.

 

The new cameras negate the need for any physical contact and use an optical system instead to measure pulse and breathing rates, with the data being analyzed in real time. The hope is that this will drastically reduce the number of false alarms, make the babies themselves more comfortable and give medical staff a much more accurate and efficient means of monitoring.

Respiratory treatment improved by swab tests

Researchers and doctors in Southampton, UK, have developed a new way to diagnose flu and other viral infections in patients with respiratory problems, using a swab test. Although swab tests are usually used for different diagnostic purposes, researchers are combining them with a special portable device which can analyze results on the spot, without being sent to a laboratory.

 

By having immediate insight, doctors are able to detect which virus a patient has and given the appropriate treatment instantly. Not only does this reduce the amount of antibiotics the person needs, but also gives the virus less time to develop and gain strength. It again highlights the huge potential of ‘point-of-care’ technology and how medicine can continue moving towards proactive treatment.

Lab results go airborne

Hot on the heels of certain online retailers, Swiss Post has found a new way to use the ever-increasing number of drones that inhabit our skies. Hospitals in the city of Lugano have been trialing the use of drones to transport laboratory samples between themselves in a hope to speed up diagnosis for patients.


Medical packages are well-suited for drone deliveries as they are often lightweight and need to be delivered quickly, instead of being stuck in car traffic. If the trials continue to be a success, Swiss Post says it plans to establish a more regular service by 2018 and eventually create more routes.

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Innovation matters team

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization.