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Healthcare Technology is Changing Patient’s Lives

With the advent of diverse wearables, the concept “smart medical” has emerged from healthcare industry. The new technologies, like IoT and AI, enable the large quantities of data to be processed and analyzed, and also these data become the important basis for medical big data. Now the technologies are changing and improving the medical environment; meanwhile, assistive devices have walked into patients’ lives and been developed and applied to smart medical applications.

Wearables Assist Hospitals in Tracking Patients’ Physiological Data

In the aged society in Taiwan, it’s urgent to build real-time and preventive medical solutions. Therefore, wearables become one of the indispensable smart medical applications. In the past, doctors used to diagnose illness and give prescriptions by patients’ physical status and symptom explanation. However, there’s no consistent record of patients’ medicine history, reaction, living habits. Now, doctors are able to collect these data from patients’ wearables and give more precise diagnoses. Some hospitals even give their patients WIFI smart bracelet to monitor their vital signs as the patients are discharged from the hospitals, including respiratory rates, oxygen content, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, etc. The patients’ data will be analyzed in real-time by AI to decrease the re-hospitalization rate.

use wearable to remotely monitor patients
Wearables are able to remotely monitor patients’ pulse, blood pressure, oxygen content. (photo credit: pixabay, Created by Unsplash)

3D Printing Design Service Platform to Customize Assistive Devices

Smart medical not only improves the diagnosis accuracy but also provides customized healthcare services for patients. Some patients need to have rehabilitation treatment after getting injured. If the assistive device is customized for the patient, it may take lots of time and money to amend and build the device. If the assistive device is not customized, the patient might feel uncomfortable while wearing it.

To improve the medical environment in Taiwan, ITRI builds the “AM (Additive Manufacturing) as a Service” platform to integrate scanning, 3D modeling, structural optimization, etc. to help doctors and medical device suppliers to rapidly build a customized 3D printed medical device design and manufacturing. Meanwhile, the time spent on assistive device manufacturing could be shortened as well. This platform now mainly focuses on 3D printed assistive devices and in vitro medical devices and will proactively cooperate with more hospitals to develop 3D printed implants to help more patients.

3D Printed Customized Assistive Device
3D Printed Customized Assistive Device (photo credit)

Exoskeleton Robots Help Patients “Stand”

It’s pretty difficult for spine-injured patients and stroke patients to move, and even they have to utilize wheelchair to move. However, these long term bedridden patients may have muscle atrophy, poor blood circulation and even other complications. To improve the situation, a startup in Taiwan, Free Bionics, develops the “exoskeleton FREE WALK” to help patients to stand. With the controller and motor system, the exoskeleton assists patients to enhance their strength and stand up. Standing could be the rehabilitation to remain good blood circulation and prevent muscle atrophy.

Exoskeleton Robots Help Paralyzed Patients Stand Up Again
Exoskeleton Robots Help Paralyzed Patients Stand Up Again (photo credit: Free Bionics)

This robot now is licensed in Taiwan and got CE certificate in European Union. That is to say, this robot can be sold and applied to medical institutions. It’s believed that this device will be widely used in medical fields.

Conclusion

Smart medical integrated “medical” and “technology”. The new technologies, like IoT and AI, greatly enhance the medical efficiency and quality. Smart medical will be the essential future technology, while people still need to consider its potential impact, consistently verify the deep learning, make the most of the AI data to achieve the higher accuracy.
(The original Chinese version of this article was written by Jia-jing Yeh and published on MakerPRO)

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