Technology lending a helping hand to healing hands

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When Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin about a century ago, it helped to end the death sentence diabetes represented. We’ve come a long way since then, with technology contributing to the delivery of insulin to improve lives and positively impacting the way we care for patients with diabetes.

Today, integrated continuous glucose monitoring pump systems can deliver timely insights via smartphone while also automatically delivering the precise amount of (basal) insulin required. “Patients are more empowered than ever in Type 1 diabetes management,” says Neil Fraser, president of Medtronic Canada, a subsidiary of the world’s largest medical technology and solutions company.

“Insulin pumps, other devices that are implanted in or worn on the body, robotic assistance and surgical tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual care – these advancements in medical technology positively augment the capabilities of physicians to benefit patients,” adds Fraser.

Advances in medical technology “hardware” make minimally invasive procedures possible for a greater number of conditions, which results in speedier recoveries with less chance of infection as a result of reduced hospital stay. For example, diseased aortic heart valves can be replaced using minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) through an incision in the groin, reducing hospital stays by an average of four days compared to the more invasive open surgery option.

Complex spine surgery can be performed through keyhole incisions with the assistance of a robotic arm and enhanced visualization machines. “Studies show most patients prefer minimally invasive spine surgery, when it is appropriate for their condition],” notes Fraser. “It can result in less pain, with shorter hospital stays, and overall faster recovery.”

On the “software” side, clinicians are increasingly using AI to detect diseases earlier and speed up treatment planning. The Princess Margaret Hospital, for example, uses machine learning algorithms to assist with the process of planning radiation treatments for patients with prostate cancer. The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre leverages AI to diagnose coronary artery disease in one day instead of weeks or months.

Neither the hardware nor the software replaces the healing hands of the clinicians who care for their patients. But many existing and future technologies do have the potential to help clinicians provide more timely access to the healthcare patients need.

To learn more about how Medtronic – the world’s largest medical technology, services, and solutions company – is partnering with the healthcare system to improve access to care, please visit