Advances in technology are changing the way that health care services are delivered, from wearable devices that can help provide earlier diagnoses and recommend personalized treatments to 3D printed prosthetics.
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Wearable fitness bands allow their users to easily track their movements throughout the day. Metrics like total steps taken, heart rate, the pace of your latest run or ride, or even the amount and quality of your sleep each night are helping individuals better identify, track and achieve their own health and fitness goals.
For those who choose use a wearable monitor regularly, the information can serve as a reference point when having conversations with healthcare providers about those goals or other health markers. Health insurance providers have also taken notice. For example, United Healthcare is expanding its United Healthcare Motion program, which provides premium incentives for meeting daily step-count and other movement goals and uses wearable monitors to inspire competition to meet and exceed community goals.
Beyond fitness, wearable technologies of the future will monitor vital statistics like a user’s heart rate, lung function, the level of oxygen in their blood, blood sugar and can even track and alert the onset of degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Or a user with a specific care plan could have the level of medication in their blood regularly monitored and be reminded to administer their next dose when its level drops below a certain threshold.
Kaiser Permanente is perfecting the use of 3D printers to produce exact replicas of trouble spots inside of their patients. Surgeons are then able to handle the models, examining them and simulating a variety of possible procedures to enter the operating room with a better-informed solution. This not only enhances the team-based training environment, but also allows for more specialized, personalized and precise treatment plans – improving quality and reducing costs.
Other examples of 3D printed body parts include a functioning artificial ear from scientists at Cornell University, blood vessels from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, skin cells that can be printed directly on to wounds at Wake Forest University and the private company Organovo has come up with a 3D printed liver.
And 3D printing technology isn’t just for humans! Meet Derby the dog.
Working towards your Master’s in Public Health Online at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California means embracing the growing role that technology is playing in the delivery of health care services. Theonline program is preparing skilled, compassionate public health professionals who are equipped to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The curriculum equips students with the knowledge and understanding to help those who need it most and puts them at the forefront of emerging technologies and trends.