The future of healthcare is transforming in front of our very eyes with advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, 3D printing, robotics and nanotechnology. In medicine and healthcare, digital technology has great potential to revamp unsustainable healthcare systems into sustainable ones, modify the delivery of patient care and provide more effective solutions for diseases and illnesses. The Arizona Technology Council’s 2020 MedTech Conference covered these topics and more, as well as delivered a great lineup of speakers, panels and forward-thinking content. Thank you to MedTech Committee Chair Ellen Owens Karcsay and the MedTech Committee for all their work on the event.
Opening keynote Dr. Andrew Maynard shared his perspectives on the risks and benefits of emerging medical technology such as artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence and machine learning, as well as the ethical and socially responsive development of these technologies through the lens of thought-provoking, science-fiction movies which are featured in his book “Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies.”
As a scientist, professor and a leading expert on emerging technologies, Maynard illustrated that the fantastical world of sci-fi movies might not be as impossible as we think.
“It’s extremely fascinating that we are now in a time that healthcare and medicine are in a cyber landscape,” Maynard said. “Medtech is a complex landscape, indeed.”
Maynard covered the futuristic medical technologies in movies such as Transcendence (2014), Jurassic Park (1993) and The Matrix (1999), taking attendees on a progressive journey through the intriguing worlds of biological and genetic manipulation, human enhancement, cyber technologies and nanotechnology. He also discussed the social and ethical implications of emerging medical technological feats and the challenges they present.
Additionally, Maynard revealed what specific medical technologies he believes will come to fruition in the near future.
“Significant strides are being made in nanotechnology, which revolves around the development of targeted treatment with nanobots or nanoparticles,” Maynard said. “Another area is 3D-printed organs, given the complexity, cost and ethics around organ-replacement surgery.”
Attendees also heard from a distinguished roster of industry thought leaders who discussed the use of augmented intelligence—the intersection of machine learning and advanced applications where clinical knowledge and medical data converge on a single platform—to enhance and streamline workflow by empowering them in their ecosystem, as well as help them to facilitate collaborative and intelligent decisions. Unlike artificial intelligence, which tries to replicate human intelligence, augmented intelligence works with and amplifies human intelligence.
PANEL 1 | Use of Augmented and VR in Healthcare and Behavioral Health
In the event’s first panel, a distinct group of medtech leaders shared their expertise and insight on the use of augmented and virtual reality in healthcare and behavioral health.
“One tremendous benefit pushed forth as a result of COVID has been the wider adoption of telemedicine,” said James Bates, CEO and founder of AdviNow Medical. “Today’s healthcare landscape demands solutions that empower healthcare anywhere while automating cumbersome, complicated systems and processes.”
Savor Health, a digital health company that provides patients with personalized nutrition advice and symptom-management interventions to improve the patient experience and increase survival, utilizes an AI chat bot for cancer patients.
“Savor Health’s virtual dietitian chatbot, Ina®, can be accessed on demand 24/7 via SMS text,” said Susan Bratton, CEO and founder of Savor Health. “Ina offers pharmaceutical, payor and provider enterprises an affordable and effective way to address the unmet nutritional issues present in 90% of cancer patients at the time of diagnosis.”
Aptus Engineering is another company also pushing boundaries by developing creative, game-changing AI. Striving to stay on the cutting edge of technology to develop custom solutions and systems, Aptus Engineering’s work includes the development of artificial intelligence radiology software.
“Building AI to read and process radiology reports to depict certain pathologies is ground-breaking for doctors,” said Narendran Muraleedharan, founder of Aptus Engineering. “Having the ability to show this to their patients and help them better understand and clearly define what is wrong provides a better patient experience.”
3D printing is another area creating an enormous opportunity for the medical industry. According to a report by market research firm, SmarTech Analysis, the market for medical 3D printing was estimated to be worth $1.25 billion in 2019. By 2027, the market value is set to grow to $6.08 billion. Clearly, the potential for 3D printing within healthcare is huge.
Featured speaker Eric Miller, principal and co-owner of Tempe-based PADT, Inc., delivered a captivating presentation on the recent advances in 3D Printing in healthcare. Founded in 1994, PADT is the Southwest’s leading provider of engineering services and products for simulation, product development and rapid prototyping. VIEW THE 3D PRINTING PRESENTATION HERE.
“New materials and processes have enabled the use of 3D printing across healthcare from device design to diagnoses, to surgery and manufacturing, and even growing new human tissue,” Miller said. “Used for sophisticated medical devices, custom-designed prototypes and pre-surgical planning, 3D provides a tremendous tool to doctors and nurses.”
PANEL 2 | The future of AR, VR + AI in Healthcare and Behavioral Health
The second panel of the 2020 MedTech Conference provided tremendous insight into the vast potential of integrating technology into patient care, from alleviating stress and rehabilitation for brain injuries, to treating chronic pain and improving cognitive deficits, these emerging technologies are reshaping how we view medicine and healthcare, and how it’s delivered. VIEW THE PANEL 2 PRESENTATION HERE.