By Dan Matthews, Writer, Content Consultant, and Researcher
Technology and medicine have always gone hand-in-hand, but the connections between bioengineering and healthcare have perhaps never been more important or apparent than now. Bioengineering solutions are not only revolutionizing the science of medicine, but they’re also innovating patient care.
While the benefits of biotech are both vast and diverse, it is in the domain of telehealth that the most significant enhancements to patient care may be seen. Remote patient monitoring devices, for example, enable clinicians to enjoy nearly constant access to the patient without the consumption of time and resources that bedside care requires.
Through the use of these technologies, healthcare teams can remotely monitor the patient’s status, from continuously tracking the patient’s vital signs to documenting nutritional intake and medication compliance. Equipped with such a storehouse of patient data, clinicians can make more informed, evidence-based decisions regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning.
Remote technologies don’t just increase the quality of care that health teams can provide, however. They also significantly improve the patients’ experience of care. For example, due to the accessibility and ease of use of these technologies, patients typically do not even need to leave the comfort of their own homes to benefit. The prospect of receiving care without having to go to a clinic or hospital increases the likelihood that patients will consult with their doctor early and often when health concerns arise.
In addition to enabling high-quality remote care, bioengineering solutions have also ushered in a whole new world of personalized medicine. For instance, innovations in tissue engineering are improving patient outcomes and reducing mortality rates by optimizing biocompatibility in grafts, prosthetics, and other implants.
The ability to engineer materials that are nearly identical to the patient’s own cells not only decreases the likelihood of rejection but also improves the function of the implants, as the body can more effectively integrate the new materials into its own organic structures.
What this means, in essence, is that thanks to bioengineering innovations therapeutics and devices can be quickly and successfully created to conform to the unique features of the patient’s body. This both increases the quality of life for patients while also reducing the financial and logistical burdens that treatment complications, failures, and revisions exact on healthcare providers and the healthcare system overall.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Healthcare is the ultimate caring profession. Its focus and its mission are on and for the patients it serves. Nevertheless, now more than ever, the future of medicine rests in and relies on machines.
Artificial intelligence (AI), for example, is proving to be a powerful tool of innovation and performance optimization across all sectors of healthcare. One particularly promising function of AI is in the arena of healthcare supply chain management. AI technologies have dramatically improved predictive analysis, more effectively forecasting demand and instituting supply planning strategies to prevent shortages while also minimizing waste.
In a healthcare system that is already overburdened by financial losses and surging demand, the capacity of AI to streamline the supply chain means that money and resources can be more effectively allotted where and when it is needed.
However, the benefits of AI by no means end at the supply chain. Indeed, AI is increasingly being put to use in patient diagnosis and treatment planning. AI has proven especially helpful in the arena of medical imaging. Thanks to innovations in machine learning, AT can now more rapidly and more accurately “read” radiological images, often detecting anomalies that may be invisible to the eye of the clinician.
The Rise of the Multidisciplinary Team
Healthcare providers have always been scientists and technologists at heart. After all, the practice of medicine is itself both art and science. However, as technology has continued to advance, the role of the technologist has assumed new importance in the healthcare industry.
In fact, because of the proliferation of diverse technologies, including home-based patient-operated systems, the integration of the IT and healthcare professions has become both more common and more necessary. More specifically, healthcare systems that seek to harness the full power of bioengineering solutions are striving to build multi-disciplinary teams that include technologists. These technical experts are providing support to patients. Physicians, and even in-clinic and home-health nurses, realize the superlative quality of care for which these technologies were engineered.
Bioengineering may certainly occupy a privileged position in the diverse fields of science and technology. Nevertheless, it is still very much a patient-focused and practitioner-driven endeavor. Indeed, bioengineering solutions often represent the ideal marriage of healthcare and technology. Through the advent of telehealth technologies, for example, healthcare providers can provide continuous care without compromising the patient’s comfort or draining the system’s precious resources. Through tissue engineering, a new level of personalized medicine has been realized, enhancing patient outcomes and quality of life. Finally, AI technologies are now being used to optimize the efficiency and efficacy of the entire health system, from health supply chain management to patient diagnosis and treatment.