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6 innovations from Future Healthcare 2019

This week, Medical News Today attended the Future Healthcare Exhibition and Conference. Delegates presented us with technology, both new and old, destined to push healthcare forward.

If all the studies that urge people to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for a healthy life haven’t convinced you yet to add more broccoli to your plate, perhaps this latest research will.

Eating fiber-rich foods — such as broccoli, nuts, oats, beans, and whole-grain bread — might help delay brain aging by triggering the production of a short-chain fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties.

This the main takeaway of a new study that was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Rodney Johnson, a professor and the head of the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the corresponding author of the study, and Stephanie M. Matt is the first author of the paper.

1. Detecting dementia early

Today, Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of dementia — is one of the leading causesof death in the United States. As the population’s average age slowly rises, the number of deaths due to dementia are likely to rise in line.

Despite this, catching dementia early remains challenging. Oxford Brain Diagnostics believe that their technology can catch the condition years before symptoms become apparent.

Their secret lies in cortical disarray measurement (CDM). In short, this technique enables scientists to gather an “extra level of detail” from existing MRI scans. This allows them to detect changes in the microanatomy of the brain.

Dr. Steven Chance — Oxford Brain Diagnostics’ CEO — told MNT that “CDM extracts information about the microscopic structure of the brain’s gray matter by applying a unique analysis to a standard form of MRI scan.”

Alongside the obvious benefits of spotting the signs of dementia earlier, the technology might also assist the pharmaceutical industry: Researchers could quantify how experimental drugs affect the microstructure of the brain.

2. Blockchain for health

Healthcare has always been about the patient, of course. However, in recent years, there has been an increasing push to involve the patient more deeply. Particularly, there has been discussion around how doctors store our data, who keeps them, and how they are shared.

Medicalchain want to change how people access their medical records. By using secure blockchain technology — most famous for its use in cryptocurrency — they have designed a way that patients can view and, when necessary, share their data with clinicians. Medicalchain have outlined their product in a white paper:

“Medicalchain enables the user to give healthcare professionals access to their personal health data. Medicalchain then records interactions with [these] data in an auditable, transparent, and secure way on Medicalchain’s distributed ledger.”

This technology, the company believes, would empower the patient. Also, as online consultations become more popular, this technology would help overcome some of their inherent privacy and security issues.

The company hope that soon, their services could be open to the public at large.

3. Mobile cancer screening

In 2018, globally, there were 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer. Around 90 percent of deaths from cervical cancer occur in low- and middle-income societies.

orithm, called automatic visual evaluation (AVE), that can produce an accurate diagnosis in minutes.

A prospective, multicenter pilot study that scientists conducted in Korea showed that the device is more than 90 percent accurate.

Yael Misrahi — head of global partnerships at MobileODT — outlined the product at Future Healthcare. MNT caught up with her after the event, and she explained that one of the primary benefits of this system is that “it is handheld and can be used by a nonexpert healthcare provider.”

Because the device is based on smartphone technology, it is user-friendly and includes a “remote consultation feature to consult experts either in real-time or during a quality assurance check.”

4. Upgrading disposable batteries

How batteries work has remained relatively unchanged for decades. BlueThink — without altering the underlying chemistry — have developed a way of making a common type of battery safer and more cost-effective.

Manufacturers now widely use button batteries in medical devices, as BlueThink’s Javier Eduardo Nadal explained to MNT :

“Medical devices are now smarter and more user-friendly than ever before.”

“This growing trend relies on good design and the use of technologies like LEDs and screens to improve the user experience, as well as connectivity to provide patients, doctors, and healthcare systems with valuable data.”

“All these innovative devices have one thing in common: They need energy.”

Button batteries are not without their problems; if a person leaves them on a shelf for a long time, they lose their charge. If they are incinerated — for instance, those of contaminated disposable medical equipment — they explode.

They are also harmful to the environment and a significant hazard for children if swallowed.

According to BlueThink, they have found a way to mitigate all of the above. Using standard battery technology but with a twist, they have created a flexible battery that a child could safely swallow, that does not explode when incinerated, and that keeps its charge when left on a shelf.

Importantly, it is also low-cost and producible in large quantities.

Nadal told MNT that “[a] small amount of energy can make a big difference in a medical device, but it must not compromise user experience, safety, or sustainability.”