The Future of Medicine

June 5, 2012
It is three o’clock on a Friday morning. Imagine waiting in the snow outside of the mall doors for three hours, hoping to be the first to receive the new iPad. Has this ever been you? As teens, we are obsessed with new technology the moment it is released, whether it is a new Apple device or a new video game console. In order to take advantage of all the career related opportunities presented in high school, we must consider our future far sooner than previous generations. As college looms ahead, one the many broadening professions is the medical field. What if there was a way to combine this field of study with our social interests in technology? Well, through the use of telemedicine there is.
New technologies have the ability to transform the medical field, and pose as fascinating topics for aspiring doctors. Therefore, it is no surprise that the topic of telemedicine, the use of technology to communicate in the medical field, is the future of medicine. With telemedicine, doctors can use video conferencing software similar to Skype in order to communicate during surgery. At times, these surgeries are not even be performed by human hands since robots assist surgeons. Both forms of technology, video conferencing and robotic surgery, have the ability to advance, and impact the way in which our generation perceives the medical world.

Over the last five years, videoconferencing has exploded into one of the main components of social interaction between teens. However, teenagers are not the only users of video conferencing devices. Doctors increasingly use video conferencing devices to communicate with patients and other doctors who might have more experience in specific fields of medicine.

Electronic interactions between doctors provide an array of benefits for the medical field. In one specific case review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a patient who suffered severe brain damage in a rural town had a surgery that was directed by a specialized surgeon via video cameras. At the small hospital in Canada, it was decided that the patient needed an emergency craniotomy, a brain procedure when the piece of bone known as a bone flap is removed from the patient’s skull to access the brain. The hospital that the patient was being treated at lacked a qualified surgeon for this specialized procedure. Although, transporting the patient to another hospital was not a possibility, the opportunity to use video messaging between a surgeon at the hospital treating the patient and another more experienced doctor in emergency brain surgeries arose (Campana 2004).

Even though there was too much damage for the patient to have a successful outcome, the patient received the best care that was available to her (Ho Personal Interview). Video messaging has the ability to change the face of medicine, and the technology needed to do so has been developed. However, it lacks enough funding for required research that is needed to fully implement processes of video messaging between different medical professionals. In addition, the current medical task force does not use it to its full potential. Therefore, as the future doctors of America it is our job to educate ourselves to advance these new medical techniques.

Along with video conferencing, robotic surgery is another fascinating new tech savvy topic in the medical field. Robotic surgery is a form of surgery that is performed by a computer instead of a human. Currently, the one of the only commercially available robots is the DaVinci Device, which unfortunately prevents surgeons from feeling what they are doing, also known as haptic sensation. However, many different research hospitals and military organizations are working on even more advanced robots that will involve this new ability. Surgery performed by robots can improve health care in hospitals and can also support those in the military or third world countries. If the robot is working properly, the organ that is being operated on will be able to be visualized more clearly then with the human eye, thus, allowing for more accurate incisions. The robot can also have a planned course already programmed, so that it can travel in a path that would be hard for a human to take. This feature can help to reduce the margin for error in surgeries. By using a robotic surgical device, the procedures can be minimally invasive, which helps to allow for a shorter recovery time.

Since American teenagers are subjected to various forms of technology that have an enormous impact on their lives, it is very natural to assume that adolescents are interested in fields that also deal with technology. Both videoconferencing and robotic surgery are fields in medicine that are new and exciting, and they require a passion for both technology and medicine. These areas of expertise show what is in store for future medical practices, enabling access to medicine anytime, anywhere.





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