MIHealth, technology for health with a future

JUNE 2012

15-01-01Innovation has always been part of the health sector’s DNA, just as caring for the patients’ health and finding cures for their problems and illnesses has too. Given its scientific nature, the area of health has always looked for new ways to do things and to solve the challenges and difficulty it faces. Is this one of the times of great change? The data would point to this being so.

15-01-03The economic crisis affecting the whole of western society has placed the health budgets in the sights of many governments, which have become one of the targets for the strategies of economic austerity that most public administrations have started up in recent months.

To give an example very close to home: in 2012 the Spanish autonomous communities spent 6% less on health than they did the previous year, around €1,210.95 per person, as opposed to the €1288.58 in 2011.

Therefore, in the health sector there is a sensation of “end of cycle” and different experts have already claimed new, radically different ways of looking after people’s health involving using new management models, creating new more efficient structures and using the full potential of the new technologies.

In the clear vocation of creating a space to allow the knowledge and experiences to be exchanged on organisational and technological innovation in the health sector, Fira de Barcelona has created the MIHealth Forum, a true global meeting place for all sector players to be able to take part, give their opinion, consider solutions and seek complicities.

15-01-04Technology will be one of the many allies of this effort. Today there are around half a million medical technologies in use by health professionals. Between 1980 and the year 2000, these medical technologies improved patients’ prognosis and recovery, reducing the length of hospitalisations by 56% and significantly increasing savings.

What will future health assistance be like? It is impossible to give an exact answer, but it seems very likely that it will have a considerable technological component.

Robots, genetics and mobile technology

Developments in robotics have brought forth robots that intervene on patients with less invasive techniques and unbeatable precision, for robot instruments require less space to move and reduce the trembling of the human surgeon’s hand. One of the best-known cases is da Vinci, robot, which is suitable for use specifically in urological, gynaecological and digestive interventions, but also in other kinds of surgery.

Personalised drugs

15-01-05What’s more, the fast development of genomics has been a determining qualitative leap in predicting possible illnesses and in providing the best treatment for each patient. Knowledge of the human genome has enabled the development of predictive medicine by giving broader knowledge of the complexity of illnesses, and therefore the possibility of applying personalised drugs for each patient.

The effectiveness of this is seen before treatment and it is developed in the laboratory with tests on tissues or in vitro samples from the patient. It is thus possible to identify both the best drug and the safest, most effective dose depending on each user’s individual genotype.

Telemedicine

Furthermore, the new technologies have also allowed us to move forward in the area of telemedicine. The possibility of the doctor visiting us in our own homes from his office comes closer every day. Information and communication technologies already allow us to monitor parameters such as heart rate, temperature and blood glucose levels in a simple manner from our homes.

According to a first pilot program of the British National Health Service, it is calculated that remote attendance and monitoring of COPD patients could bring in savings of up to 1,000 pounds (1,200 Euros) per person and year.

FOLC LECHA

* Main photo: Hospital Clínic de Barcelona