Technology in the healthcare industry has seen advancements beyond our wildest dreams. If you’ve ever been to the hospital, you’ve probably noticed just how advanced healthcare technology is getting. Most of us probably never thought we’d see the day when an actual robot would be greeting patients at the door at a Canadian hospital. Let’s take a closer look at 5 of the miraculous projects that are shaking up the healthcare technology industry.
1. Virtual Reality: Allowing Palliative Care Patients to Travel the World, Virtually
Unfortunately, palliative care patients don’t often have the opportunity to do such things as roam the streets of Paris or walk along the Great Wall of China. However, with the use of virtual reality headsets, patients are able to travel to any destination they desire.
A volunteer at Bridgepoint Health uses his virtual reality goggles to immerse palliative patients in places in which their physical bodies cannot go. The technology doesn’t only boost individuals’ moods, but has been shown to improve symptoms of dementia, such as depression and anxiety.
Virtual reality is a healthcare technology that allows palliative care patients to experience life beyond their imagination that is otherwise confined by hospital beds and wheelchairs. Although VR is slowly moving into the Canadian healthcare industry, healthcare professionals believe it will be increasingly integrated into long-term care facilities and hospitals in the very near future.
2. Pepper: The Socializing and Dancing Robot
Meet Pepper, a humanoid robot that can dance, talk, and play games. Standing in the entrance of Humber River Hospital in Toronto, visitors and patients can enjoy the company of Pepper. You can even take a selfie with him!
Not only is Pepper a great source of entertainment, but this cheery little robot acts as a compassionate support system for sick children. He’s able to provide genuine companionship due to his ability to recognize human emotions and adapt his behaviour accordingly. Based on your tone of voice and facial expression, Pepper then expresses himself through the colour in his eyes, tone of voice, and his tablet that forms images and written words.
Pepper has recently become adopted in homes and retail outlets across Japan. Who knows, you may even have a Pepper in your home one day!
3. Cloud DX: Remotely Monitoring Your Vital Signs
The Connected Health Kit from Cloud DX acts as a personal “Health Station”. From the comfort of a patient’s home, vital signs can be taken and automatically sent to the “cloud” to be monitored remotely by physicians, caregivers, family members, and anyone else in the patient’s circle of care.
Using this type of remote patient monitoring allows physicians to monitor an individual’s health and schedule follow up appointments when necessary. The physician can also send a nurse to make a house call if there is any indication that the individual is at risk for health complications.
The Cloud DX provides more than a way to monitor vital signs; it reduces patients’ number of visits to the emergency room and allows them to take control of their own health and wellness while staying at home.
4. Hand Rehabilitation Therapy Glove: Helping Stroke Patients Recover through Video Games
Neofect looks to replace analog physical therapy with a fun alternative; the rehabilitation therapy glove turns physical therapy into a game. Stroke patients or individuals with a brain injury can now improve the functionality of their hands by using a customized digital rehabilitation solution. Games such as ping pong and darts are designed to stimulate the brain and improve function through repetitive motion.
Patients can rent the physical therapy glove to have in their homes, or might be able to find one at a nearby physiotherapy clinic. If you want to learn more about the games played using the glove and the types of monitoring data it collects, you can watch this informative video.
5. Skin Printing Machine: Minimizing the Need for Skin Grafting
Researchers at the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Hospital have designed a handheld machine that can actually print skin. Using a gel-like substance that contains skin cells, in a matter of 2 minutes or less, a skin-like substance is deposited from a duct tape-looking dispenser. This substance is then applied directly on top of a wound or burn to allow for the healing process to begin.
Although there are similar devices on the market, these other devices are extremely costly for hospitals. This skin printing machine is believed to be less expensive, allowing more Canadian hospitals to minimize the need for skin grafting.
It’s unbelievable how far healthcare technology has come, and it’s crazy to think about what the healthcare industry will look like in the next 10 years. But, what is absolutely sure is that as technology continues to advance, Canadians’ visits to hospitals and clinics will start to become more engaging, more interactive, and less costly.