Physician Heal Thy Patient: Top 7 Medical Advances to Incorporate into Your Practice

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jan 3, 2019

Jan 3, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

2018 was a great year for medicine, and 2019 looks promising as well. We may even be at the beginning of a new age. We've made interesting medical advances in fields such as gene therapy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, and research on naturally-occurring substances.

These are only the beginning, though, and 2019 is expected to bring further advancements in all these fields and more. So, what exactly can we expect in 2019? We'll try to explain that as best we can in the paragraphs below.

1. AI Will Play a Big Role...In Something

Artificial intelligence is a vast and incredible field. It's so vast, in fact, the medical community as a whole doesn't know what they should be doing with it.

Should we program robotic surgeons who can perform certain surgeries by themselves? Maybe we should try to create robots that can fill the space of missing organs.

Today, some of the biggest advancements in AI are in the field of diagnosis, but this may change as time goes on. To some extent, we already are using AI in many fields. For instance, hearing aids, pacemakers, and artificial limbs have already been successfully developed.

2. Gene Therapy

The first successful gene therapy operation was performed in 1990, and the technology has only improved since then. These days, doctors are attempting a more proactive approach. They intend to find medical issues in DNA before the DNA can finish creating them.

They are also using this technology in hopes of curing or even preventing cancer. The idea is still largely in its infancy, but it shows promise.

Of course, genetic research can be used for more than just medical purposes. It can be used to learn about your family history and how you became you. You can find out more about that by clicking the link.

The benefits of understanding genetics are already well understood in the medical world. Doctors will look into the genetics of their patients to see what conditions they are at a higher risk for.

3. Substance Research

Recent years have brought some interesting discoveries in the field of drug research. Various studies and reports suggest MDMA or even ayahuasca might be useful in treating PTSD.

Of course, this research is only the beginning. Doctors are also looking more than ever before into potential medical uses of marijuana.

As might be evident by now, marijuana has been found to have several applications to the treatment of pain and certain degenerative conditions. Because of this, medical marijuana has become more and more accepted across the United States, which in turn has opened the door for a larger variety of medical research.

If you want to start adding medical marijuana to your business, there are a few things to know. The first is that only 30 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana in any capacity. 

Also, each state has different standards for who is qualified to recommend it. Finally, prescribing marijuana is illegal. Instead, you have to recommend it.

4. The Rise (or Fall) of China

The biological pharmaceutical (biopharma) field is one which attracts investors from around the world. One of the biggest contributors is China, and this trend may not slow down anytime soon.

Granted, a lot of this investment seems to focus primarily on healthcare within China, but innovation travels with trade, so any advancements made in Asia should reach most of the world fairly quickly.

There is also some bad news. Regulation is about to get stepped up in terms of money coming into the country. This could mean nothing, but if things on either end of the transaction aren't carried out properly, it may mean less money going to the medical industry - at least in the US.

5. Higher Opioid Use

At the moment, the United States is in the middle of a drug epidemic, especially when it comes to opioids. Before we go any further, we should probably explain what an opioid is.

Opioids and opiates are similar in that they are both pain-killing substances which come from the poppy plant. The difference is opiates are made directly from the plant, while opioids are any substance that works the same way as an opiate, whether naturally or by design.

Though greater opioid use in the future is likely, some are starting to believe the light at the end of the tunnel is now visible. Among other things, genetic therapy may help to counter the opioid crisis by identifying potential addicts and switching them over to non-addictive treatments.

Among these safer treatments is marijuana. Some doctors, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta, believe marijuana, being far less dangerous, would be a suitable substitute for the opioids that are now killing over 100 people per day.

6. New Communication Technologies

Digital and virtual technologies are beginning to find their place in the medical world. Digital advancements are making it easier for patients to understand and control various aspects of their healthcare.

These applications are still very much in development, but it is possible their continued advancement might eventually drive medical costs down. It could also change the nature of doctor/patient interactions.

7. Increased Use of Simulations

Advanced simulations are showing great promise at treating various conditions, such as poor eyesight, hearing loss, and even autism. Many of these applications involve helping patients with sensory issues by giving them the freedom to interact with a virtual environment in ways real life doesn't allow. 

For instance, autistic patients who have trouble socializing can practice their interactions in a controlled environment until they become more confident in actual social environments.

These same programs are also making it easier for doctors to relate to patients in difficult situations. For instance, a program known as We Are Alfred allows doctors to step into the shoes of an elderly man suffering from reduced sight and hearing. 

Others are using these simulations to understand surgery and pediatrics, or better empathize and deal with potentially difficult patients. Among these are those with serious psychological conditions, potentially suicidal patients, and those who refuse to take medicine.

Medical Advances in 2019

Medical science is constantly advancing, and 2019 seems to be no exception. There are several medical advances we can expect to see in 2019, whether they're a whole new discovery or a step forward in existing research.

Unfortunately, we could only cover a few fascinating innovations in this article, so feel free to do more research on your own.

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