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Medicine and Technology
Old 02-17-2014, 09:47 AM   #1
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Medicine and Technology

Advances in medical technology is changing the face of medicine, and one can only guess at the how these quantum leaps will affect our future... not the next 5 or 10 years, but ... tomorrow, and next week.

A two part subject.
First: How the advances will affect you and me, our costs, our time in doctoring, our health and ultimately our life span.
Second: Aside from the tech build out, how the advances may affect the entire structure of the health industry... the physical structures offices, hospitals, clinics and eventually the pharmaceutical industry as a whole...not only from the "Cure", but from the "Diagnostic" aspects.

The subject is so vast, and the technology moving so quickly, that what we know today is already ancient history. Instead of trying to cover the subject in an orgnized manner, I'll start off with some of the advances that I've see in the past month.

I hope others with more knowledge and awareness might briefly add to the list.

Robotic surgery and dentistry. Some bad press, but some amazing breakthroughs, and certainly the way of the future.
A diagnostic microcamera in a "swallowable"capsule that could obviate $3000 to $4000 colonoscopies at a current cost of less than $500. In use in 80 countries but not available in the US...so far.
Instead of a $65 doctor visit, and lab testing...a paper strip test (ala diabetic tests), to detect drug use (available in Dollar Tree) , and other "strips" to test for:
- stool blood
-Urinary Tract Infections
-Pregnancy
-The Flu
-PH balance
-multi level blood tests
and many more, some in the early test stage.
This is just starting... check "lab on a strip" or "fluidics"...and there are a number of other new fields of study. BTW... much of this also going on in the field of veterinary medicine.

Tech for PC's and mobile devices...
-Apps for self diagnosis... calories, symptoms, health regimins etc, etc.
-Thermometers
-Otoscopes
-Apps for motion sensed functions, with or without plug in sensors. Pedometers, blood pressure, even bad breath... Even a built in Holter Harness... to skip those multiple doctor visits.
-Electronic sensors for the average guy... Imagine EKG's, and brain sensors.
-Monitors for sleep and REM.
-Just today...Heart attack predictor.

So much more... I can envision a sooer than later, home Doctor kit that encompasses most of the above (and other devices) to reduce the need for General Practitioners... the current biggest problem in medicine.

Gradually, our news providers are bringing together most of the cutting edge technologies, but taken as a whole, a huge workplace and cultural change that needs broad exposure.

Just one small example... DW has been subject to minor infections, that without diagnosis and treatment, could become more serious. Symptoms are often "iffy" so clinic visits have been necessary for a blood test and diagnostics, about $150. This year, home testing has eliminated over $500 in these visits, for false positives.

Can you share, add to my short list? How much of this has affected your own life already? IMHO, understanding the possibilities and knowing about the cost saving applications available today, could have an affect on personal finances.
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:29 AM   #2
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DW is taking Tasigna, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It prevents molecular changes to her DNA, and keeps her cancer at bay. Think about that-it's mind blowing that we can prevent our DNA from changing to a cancer producer with a pill.

Originally given 3 months to live, she celebrated her 4th year since diagnosis last month. Costs around $5k/month.

a real miracle drug.......
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:43 AM   #3
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I'm waiting for the day there's a transplantable, artificial kidney. We're talking about a kidney that is transplanted and can perform many of the functions of a full kidney.

There's a project going on currently with human trials planned for 2017.

An artificial kidney will be such a big big game changer in the lives of many who are impacted.

I have this friend who currently both her parents have to go to weekly kidney dialysis.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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Watched a TV program last night, that showed a human heart... on a table, outside of the body... stimulated by electronics, and pumping blood continuously for a very long period of time... perhaps weeks (can't remember)... as well as a new procedure for a full, (both lungs), one piece transplant.
In my original post, I inferred a reduction in the need for GP's. At the same time, until we reach the ultimate prevention/cure state, the need for specialists may well increase. That said, in an age of specialization and the availability of Instant Knowledge, I believe that it will be possible to reduce the education process to a streamlined level... Meaning that a specialist, may indeed be that... a specialist in a single discipline... as in brain surgery without having to have gone through ALL of the of medical study included in the 6 to 8 year educational process that covers every part of the medical spectrum. (Just my opinion)
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:14 AM   #5
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IMHO, we will see people regrowing healthy kidneys before we see an artificial one.
Very possible. Kinda of like from science fiction (or a Halloween movie ) I've read and seen on TV about organs being grown. I forget which program, but shown was a beating frog heart. Also, in the works is printing of organs. Yes, printing with 3-D printers.

Ariticle on the artificial kidney project:

Quote:
Their project, still at least four years from being tested in humans, is building a two-part device that, while never intended to be a permanent replacement for the real thing, will allow people with failing kidneys to live normal, dialysis-free lives.

In one half of the device will be a filtration system made of silicon that mimics the organic filtering membrane found in the kidney. In the other half will be a nest of real kidney cells, cribbed from the patient or a donor, that will regulate the complex composition of blood necessary for good health and survival.
http://www.sfgate.com/health/article...re-4458059.php
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:41 AM   #6
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Microbial Nanotechnology... Nanosilver...

Just another example of stuff that sails right over my head... Never heard of this, but apparently it's been around for a while... Headline news, as if everyone except me knows about it.

Silver nanoparticles kill germs, raise health concerns - Chicago Tribune

Quote:
Silver has long been known for its ability to kill some of the nasty microbes that can make people sick. In hospitals, it's used to help burn victims, to combat germs on catheters and even to wipe out dangerous "superbugs" that have grown resistant to traditional antibiotics.

Now, capitalizing on consumers' fear of germs, companies are adding tiny, powerful silver particles to cutting boards, underwear, yoga mats, running shirts, socks and an expanding array of other "antibacterial" goods.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ticker View Post
DW is taking Tasigna, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It prevents molecular changes to her DNA, and keeps her cancer at bay. Think about that-it's mind blowing that we can prevent our DNA from changing to a cancer producer with a pill.

Originally given 3 months to live, she celebrated her 4th year since diagnosis last month. Costs around $5k/month.

a real miracle drug.......

Wow, so glad to read this. I know someone who took Gleevec for years until a bone marrow transplant was done. They really are miracle drugs. I hope your insurance pays for the meds!
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:15 PM   #8
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Had my gallbladder out this fall. Lathoscopic surgery Sunday AM, home Monday morning. If it weren't for some other small complications, you might say it could've been an outpatient thing! Absolutely astounding!

A long way from when my grad-dad had the same procedure with a week in the hospital and 3-4 weeks recovery.

BTW: Not to name names but there is a fiction/medical thriller out just now about people using a sophisticated smartphone app to diagnose health problems...and things start to go wrong.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:29 PM   #9
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Genetic testing is changing things. A family member has been having some mental health issues that were not responsive to the normal pharma approach. SSRIs seemed to have little effect. He's now waiting on a genetic test for the MTHFR gene mutations. If he has some of the mutations, his body doesn't produce the proper enzyme to break down folate and that can effect the neurotransmitters in the brain (dopamine, seratonin, etc.) The hope is that if he has this mutation (pretty common) he will be able to take methalyzed folate (pre-broken down) so that the SSRIs will be more effective, or might be able to be eliminated.

Imagine that - a gene test to show that a serious condition can be treated with vitamins.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:39 PM   #10
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There is current technology that allows a skin sample to be taken the cells regressed to stem cells and then turned into whatever kind of cells are needed for study. I am told in a year or two they will be able to do this from a simple blood sample.
I carry the gene for familial ALS ( Lou Gehrig's disease) they have used my skin to make sick motor neurons to study which I find amazing. They are also finding ways to block the toxic action of genetic defects ( called anti sense technology) they are exploring this for neurological conditions like ALS but also for things like familial hyperlipidemia. It is indeed a brave new world!
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:48 PM   #11
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These advances are fantastic and I certainly look forward to a swallow-able micro cam instead of a colonoscopy. But I don't see much advance on the day to day chronic issues or even nutrition. We can send a robot in to operate but we can't get a solid scientifc consensus on statins or dietary carbohydrates? WTF does that tell you? On just two minor matters I ran into big fat nothing-burgers from modern medicine - long term post nasal drip/throat clearing and BPH like symptoms without actual BPH. All the doctors could do is prescribe drugs that had no beneficial impact. I ended up curing the decades long post nasal drip problem with a old wife's tail from the Internet. After a bit of research I dumped a decade's worth of BPH meds and saw no appreciable difference (except that the med's side effect or increased sporadic dizziness was somewhat alleviated). I guess my bottom line reaction is that, if I end up needing some advanced procedure, or rely on regular blood monitoring like OP's wife, some of these advances may benefit me big time. As for day to day stuff for maintaining optimal health I expect I will have to keep stumbling along with Dr Google for the duration.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:58 PM   #12
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The camera capsule gets used all the time in the US, but unhappily it's not as effective as the colonoscopy for picking up colon polyps. It's frequently used for suspected small bowel conditions. I've had multiple patients who've swallowed cameras! Very cool.
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:39 PM   #13
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I find it upsetting that medicine's response to cancer, when it is found, is still slash/burn/poison. Essentially, try to stop just short of killing the patient, as if trying to eradicate Canada thistle from our garden without quite destroying the good plants. Yes, there has been progress toward finding cancers while they are still treatable, and that is good.

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Old 02-17-2014, 04:45 PM   #14
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Medical care/technology decoupled from what more and more people can afford over our lifetime. That'll have to change eventually. Hopefully there will be more examples with technology providing more cost effective treatments.

The US is great at leading edge medical technology, but not at all cost effective in terms of basic care (much higher cost per capita than nah other country, and twice the OECD averages). Some of the reasons may be outside the health care system, but not all.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:05 PM   #15
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It's a few years old now, but the book Transcend
has some cool ideas for what the future might bring. I still have a hard time seeing how we can automatically give all the cool stuff to everyone, no matter if they ever contributed to society or not, but I figure if this stuff is "out there" and it works, it will slowly make its way to me (or if the US drags its feet, make my way to where the technology is).
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:09 PM   #16
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A long time ago I read that 'someday' you'd just pee in your home toilet every morning and get a readout (or alert) on just about every condition/problem you might have.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:21 PM   #17
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A long time ago I read that 'someday' you'd just pee in your home toilet every morning and get a readout (or alert) on just about every condition/problem you might have.
That was on the 'what will the future look like' page of WIRED mag a while back. But the display looked like it was in a public restroom and was trying to sell you the food, supplements, drugs that it thought you needed.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
These advances are fantastic and I certainly look forward to a swallow-able micro cam instead of a colonoscopy. But I don't see much advance on the day to day chronic issues or even nutrition. We can send a robot in to operate but we can't get a solid scientifc consensus on statins or dietary carbohydrates? WTF does that tell you? On just two minor matters I ran into big fat nothing-burgers from modern medicine - long term post nasal drip/throat clearing and BPH like symptoms without actual BPH. All the doctors could do is prescribe drugs that had no beneficial impact. I ended up curing the decades long post nasal drip problem with a old wife's tail from the Internet. After a bit of research I dumped a decade's worth of BPH meds and saw no appreciable difference (except that the med's side effect or increased sporadic dizziness was somewhat alleviated). I guess my bottom line reaction is that, if I end up needing some advanced procedure, or rely on regular blood monitoring like OP's wife, some of these advances may benefit me big time. As for day to day stuff for maintaining optimal health I expect I will have to keep stumbling along with Dr Google for the duration.

I have similar post nasal drip issue. Had a CT scan and went to an ENT specialist. Surgery is Wednesday to fix it.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:25 PM   #19
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Wish they'd hurry up with some eye issues: ie. macular degeneration. I have a form of it (myopic degeneration--a genetic condition) that is disintegrating my eyesight in one eye. Pretty depressing to be told there's no cure and that it will inevitably get worse. The good thing is that I have one very good eye that compensates well.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:17 PM   #20
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I have similar post nasal drip issue. Had a CT scan and went to an ENT specialist. Surgery is Wednesday to fix it.
Sounds like you have something more serious than me. Mine caused me to constantly clear my throat which drove people around me nuts. The docs thought it was post nasal drip but I read that the symptoms can be driven by "silent" GERD. Cider vinegar containing some yeast called 'the mother", 1T every day, and it disappeared. Inhalers didn't help at all.
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