Diagnostic medicine is a very fast-moving field. It has to be in order to effectively respond to new threats as they arise. It is unsurprising then that the field of diagnostics is becoming increasingly dependent on new technological advances in a variety of other fields, both medical and technological. Within the last decade, we have seen the arrival of a so-called ‘lab-on-paper’ that can be used to quickly conduct a variety of complex medical diagnosis with ease, allowing even untrained professionals to analyze the results. Technology like this has the potential to revolutionize healthcare across the world and help to continue to raise the average standard of living.
However, scientists are looking to take the concept one step further and some designers are working on toilets, which will automatically analyze urine and feces to alert people of potential health problems before they become serious.
The Gambhir Lab at Stanford University has designed a bra that uses a combination of constant passive ultrasound and infra-red monitoring to detect changes in breast tissue density, which could indicate a tumor. Spotting cancer early dramatically improves a patient’s chances of survival and the future of early warnings certainly lies in these forms of passive, unobtrusive monitoring of our bodies. The biggest challenge to wearable electronics is placing the battery in the right place and how to store, analyze, and delete the constant stream of data as appropriate. Cardiologists have made the most progress in this area and there are now some very advanced pacemakers available that can detect arrhythmias and react appropriately.
Hospitals are gathering more information than ever about their patients. These measurements are often very precise, as medicine requires precision, and are collected as a matter of routine. While patient confidentiality is very important, so is the progress of medicine, and with all that data available it would be foolish to not use it. Anonymized data removes any data that could be used to identify who the data has come from. This eliminates privacy concerns and medical researchers don’t need to know the name of the individuals behind the data. Any variables they do require can be requested via questionnaires when a patient is admitted to hospital.
Once all this data has been collected it, it then needs to be analyzed. Data analytics is the branch of science concerned with finding patterns in data and assessing what relationships – if any – different variables have on one another. It is hard to overstate the importance of data analytics when it comes to analyzing trends among huge population samples.
More Accurate Testing
False positives and false negatives are an unavoidable risk with diagnostic medicine and wherever possible labs will run tests multiple times to minimize the chances of reporting a false result. Some tests are expensive and/or time-consuming to run. In such instances, more accurate equipment is preferable. Some diagnostic tools are entirely accurate, providing that a human can interpret the results quickly. Perhaps the best known diagnostic tool is the ultrasound. Many medical students opt to study for a bachelor of medical sonography degree as a way of expanding their skillset and getting a foot in the door of the diagnostics department. By studying for an online medical sonography degree, students can study while working their regular hospital job.
Diagnostic medicine is one of the most important medical fields – and one of the fastest moving. Technological advances are making sure that the field keeps up with developments in the fields of virology and infectious diseases.