Close to 100 million inpatient and outpatient surgeries are conducted every year. As demand for surgeries rises, medical providers are under increased pressure to reduce costs and medical errors. The Affordable Care Act also introduced new reforms that pressure medical providers to cut medical errors.
Major Technology Advances Affecting the Medical Industry
A growing number of surgeons are turning to new technology to meet these goals. Here are some of the biggest technological changes affecting the surgical profession in 2016.
Robot Assisted Surgical System
Intuitive Surgical Inc. recently developed new robotics technology that can assist with surgical procedures. The new technology, known as Da Vinci™, benefits surgeons in several ways:
- Surgeries are less invasive
- Surgeons can perform operations remotely
- Surgeons don’t experience hand tremors
Da Vinci is already being used in varioushospitals across the country. Experts at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital have said that the new technology will help reduce costs and minimize the duration of inpatient stays. Times are changing quickly as more plastic surgeons use robots, digital imaging and other technology to perform their operations more quickly.
Laser Technology and Medical Imaging
X-rays have been used for imaging for about 120 years, but they produce images that provide minimal detail, at least compared to modern imaging technology. Advances in laser and medical imaging technology have substantially improved the quality of images, which is greatly improving surgical outcomes. Donald Umstadter, a physics professor and director of Extreme Light Laboratory, states that new medical imaging technologieswill play a more prominent role in future medical procedures. “The x-rays that were previously generated with compact lasers lacked several of the distinguishing characteristics of synchrotron light, such as a relatively pure and tunable color spectrum,” Umstadter says. “Instead, those x-rays resembled the ‘white light’ emitted by the sun.” Medical imaging is particularly helpful for rhinoplasty surgery, due to the unique bone structure of every patient.
The healthcare industry has traditionally been reluctant to invest in new IT solutions. One study concluded that the industry spends less than 2% of their budgets on IT, because it traditionally provided a small ROI. However, this is changing quickly as more healthcare professionals recognize the benefits of cloud technology. Cloud technology has become an unexpected game changer for the medical industry.Cloud technology gives medical providers access to more extensive records, which helps them minimize the risk of medical error. Research from Accenture predicts that cloud technology will play a more influential role in the future. “The healthcare industry’s migration to the cloud is inevitable—it’s driven by an irresistible blend of competitive realities and patient demand.” Cloud technology may be used for every procedure from a closed rhinoplasty to open heart surgery.
Ultrasound technology allows surgeons to do what previously unthinkable – perform operations without even cutting into the patient. A TED talk in 2011 discussed the emergence of ultrasound surgeries, but the practice was still in its infancy. Ultrasound surgeries are currently performed on an outpatient basis. It is proving to be a great, noninvasive option to repair damaged fibroids. Since the surgeon doesn’t need to actually cut into the patient, recovery times are a fraction that of traditional procedures.
Health Benefits of These Surgeries
The miracles of modern surgery can benefit patients in many ways. Here are some of the ways these surgeries can improve their lives.
Rhinoplasty surgeries are usually used to treat cosmetic naval problems. However, these surgeries can also be used to treat a deviated septum and other naval problems. A rhinoplasty surgery used to correct a deviated septum is called a septoplasty. According to estimates from the Mayo Clinic, about 70-80% of adults have deviated septums. A deviated septum can create a number of health problems, including:
- Impaired breathing
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic sinus infections
Patients that undergo a septoplasty may find these problems are significantly reduced. Ultrasound Surgeries Although ultrasound surgeries are still relatively new, research shows they can have tremendous health benefits relative to traditional surgeries. A recent study conducted by the Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Korea Institute of Science and Technology discovered some of the benefits. The study focused on ultrasound surgeries used to treat tumors and micro injuries near the brain. The study found that these surgeries helped activate the sensorimotor and visual areas of the brain. Health Benefits of Medical Imaging Medical imaging technology can drastically improve surgical outcomes and reduce the need for invasive surgeries. According to Oregon Health and Science University, medical imaging can replace exploratory surgeries, angiographiesand cardiac catheterizations. The risks and complications of these procedures include:
- Excessive internal bleeding
- Heart attacks
- Kidney damage
Far fewer complications are caused by medical imaging. Patients still face some risks, such as side effects of sedatives and exposure to ionizing radiation. However, the risks pale in comparison to those created by invasive surgical procedures.