It’s an exciting time in healthcare for providers and patients. Humans are living longer lives thanks to some old and new medical innovations. Many old technologies and treatments got improved thanks to research and the use of modern computing.

New technology and innovative therapies are coming out of clinical trials all the time. However, you may need to mention them to your doctor.

Healthcare professionals have always been a little resistant to change. If it’s working, why change it? That’s sound logic and something we can apply to most things in life.

However, technology is making strides today that were unimaginable a few decades ago. Luckily, healthcare professionals are adopting these innovations and new technology much faster than in previous years.

Technology isn’t the only science at the front of changing healthcare and helping us live longer. Some of the best medical innovations may be simple things like a better understanding of nutrition and exercise along with how they affect our bodies.

The point is that medical changes may not always include newsworthy headline technology, but it often does, and we’ll cover them.

We dug deeper than news headlines for you and came up with a short list of the best medical innovations of our time. You may be surprised by some of the simple ways science and medicine might change your life and prolong it.

From robots to super gut bacteria, our health is improving, or we have the means to improve it. It’s up to us to embrace the changes or talk to our doctor about new things.

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Battling Cancer

Cancer has always been a plague that resisted most forms of treatment aside from dosing your body with poisons or harmful radiation. The other option was surgery which may alter your life forever.

Some brain tumors may position themselves in areas that control your motor of cognitive functions. Removing them via surgery could leave you with memory loss, paralyzed, or much worse.

While not a cure for every type of cancer including brain cancers, CIMAvax is one of the best medical innovations of modern times. This cancer vaccine was only recently approved for human trials in the US. It’s been available for lung cancer treatment in Cuba since 2011.

However, weak international relations between the US and Cuba prevented citizens from taking advantage of this treatment.

CIMAvax is a therapeutic vaccine used to fight non-small cell lung cancer. We’ll spare you the technical details, but it works by convincing your body to produce the correct antibodies it needs to help fend off lung cancer. 

Many people that suffer from lung cancer may see their lives extended once the vaccine is out of its trials and available for prescribed treatment.

A few other immunotherapy treatments are on the horizon, but most of them are still just a theory or awaiting approval for human trials.

CIMAvax is probably one of the few treatments that may be available this decade unless you're willing to travel to remote places for treatment. However, there may be some international legal issues if you take that route.

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Robotics

The science of robotics is arguably one of the most impressive areas providing medical innovations. Industries like car manufacturers have used robots to build cars for decades. Robots weld, paint, and assemble all sorts of products outside the vehicle manufacturing industry. Today, robots are starting to make their way into our bodies.

Robotic prosthetics and 3-D printing may help some patients replace a limb. Some of the robotic prosthetics may be able to let the patient feel things again as well.

Robotic limbs have been around for a while now, but 3-D printing is reducing their price tags to a fraction of what they were previously. So, technically the real innovation is 3-D printing aside from the ability to feel through a robot’s fingers.

Artificial muscles may lengthen our lives as well. Robotic muscles have been around for years, but recent innovations made them stronger and less likely to fail over time. The medical changes most interesting about artificial muscles is the potential to replace a heart with a robotic version or allow amputees to walk again.

man with robotic arm

Source: Pexels

Consider the possibilities of using hundreds of microscopic robots to repair internal damage or remove tumors that were once inoperable. Scientists are using MRI technology to drive tiny robots through the human body.

This innovation is still in its infancy, but the possibilities are endless. Many invasive surgeries could get rendered obsolete which may lengthen the lives of some older adults and infants.

Robotics may be the best innovation in medicine that helps prolong human lives. The Da Vinci robot is probably the most widely recognized, and it’s been hard at work for nearly two decades. However, new technology is improving and extending the duties robots see in hospitals.

Today, robots help humans live longer in several ways including:
  • Cardiac patients: Robotics helps some patients avoid open heart surgery
  • Gynecology: Invasive surgeries like benign hysterectomies may get avoided
  • Colorectal: The robotic devices can work inside or outside of the colon less invasively
  • Thoracic: Robots may perform operations once thought impossible on lung cancer patients
  • General surgery: Many invasive procedures may get avoided by using robotics to perform the procedure

Robots are small and precise, and they don’t suffer from fatigue or have bad days. They need less room to work which means patients don’t need to endure long recovery times from major surgery.

This advantage is particularly important to older adults and infants that may not get the surgery they need for fear that their bodies can't endure the operation or the recovery.

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is technically part of robotics in our opinion, but it deserves its own section since many robots may still get operated by humans.

Thinking robots are on an entirely different level. AI is making strides in medicine we only dreamed of just a decade ago. Some care teams may already employ AI to help monitor patients or manage electronic medical records (EHR).AI enabled robots may soon find their way into all sorts of positions in medicine.

 Researchers and doctors are working on innovations that may allow AI enabled robots to monitor Alzheimer’s patients, perform physical therapy, or help care teams with clinical decision-making. The advances are exciting, to say the least, unless you've watched too many “Terminator” movies.

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Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Proton beam therapy is a new version of this radiosurgery. At the time of this writing, only a handful of treatment centers were available to perform the procedure.

In some cases, a patient may only require one dose of this treatment. However, single-dose treatments are uncommon, and most tumors need fractional therapies over some time unless they get found early.

Linear accelerator machines target tumors with X-rays. Like proton beam therapy, this procedure may only require one treatment if the tumor is small. Large tumors take more time and may need multiple sessions.

However, the treatment is safer than older methods and does less damage to cells around cancer. Some older chemotherapy and radiation treatments may harm too many healthy cells.

Gamma knife machines use around 200 tiny beams of gamma rays to target tumors in the brain. This procedure has also proved useful in treating non-cancerous tumors and brain lesions as well. However, this treatment is less common when compared to the other two types. Stereotactic radiosurgery is saving and lengthening lives.

Wearable and Embeddable Health Monitors

Probably the most well-known name in wearable health trackers is the Fitbit. It tracks a lot of things going on in your body from heart rate to how many steps you took at work today, or last month.

Today, doctors can use the data from your Fitbit to improve your health. It helps them develop a complete picture of what’s going on beyond what they see in the office.

It doesn’t stop with wearables. New devices may be worn or embedded to monitor a host of diseases and conditions.

Patients with diabetes, heart disease, and some chronic conditions may see more relief and better treatment options in the future thanks to wearable and embeddable health monitoring devices. The data gathered by these devices may also help future patients live longer lives.

Virtual Reality

It may be our favorite technology aside from robotics. Virtual reality (VR) offers a list of ways it helps providers and patients that are just too long for us to add here. 

However, our favorite possibilities include educating patients and training clinical staff or doctors. Virtual reality makes it possible for doctors to safely practice or for patients to perform trial runs of their own care.

Practice is vital for any skill you wish to master, and this same principle applies to doctors. Imagine practicing a procedure like open heart surgery before performing it.

A patient could get recreated in every way inside a VR complete with any medical conditions. Using AI, a doctor could perform surgery and get real-time, accurate feedback from the virtual patient or AI.

On the other side of things, patients could practice performing some procedures on their own like changing bandages or packing wounds to prevent mistakes and reduce the pain involved. VR offers patients a realistic world to learn from where doctors and care teams can demonstrate procedures and better prepare them for it.

Some people are visual learners while others may learn better via audio or touch. Feeling things in a VR world is still a little spotty right now, but it’s gaining ground. However, visual and audio aids are abundant in VR worlds. VR is providing patient education that is saving lives and helping extend them for many people.

Conclusion to Best Medical Innovations

The best medical innovations may not be what you imagined when you discovered this article. Hopefully, we sparked your interest in these new technologies and advances.

If you’re a provider, embrace the changes and let technology make your life easier while prolonging the lives of your patients. For patients, talk to your doctor to see if any of these innovations may help you.

Featured image via Pexels

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