Four New Medical Technologies that are Awesome

December 13, 2018

It’s easy to complain about the myriad distortions and incidents of unfairness that result from government intervention into the health-care sector. And no doubt the third-party payer features of the system, coupled with onerous coverage mandates, make services far more expensive than they need to be.

But it’s important to be mindful of the positives too, especially as medical technology companies compete to out-innovate one another and change the way we look at health-care. Before you try to nab these gifts for Christmas or Chanukah, bear in mind these are far too expensive to be stocking-stuffers (for now)!

1. Airway Muscle Implant for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA is never fun—both for the sufferer and the person sleeping next to them. When the muscles in the back of your throat relax, the resulting disruption to breathing can be not only noisy but dangerous. Fortunately, companies are marketing fully-implantable devices that can regulate breathing processes (via tongue simulation) and make for better, safer sleeping.

2. Robot Nurses

Sure, we are still far from the point where androids can deliver medicine Asimov-style. But to many elderly patients in assisted living, simple companionship and communication can save lives and improve quality of life. One Belgium-based creator of a medical assistance bot has already sold one thousand copies to health care facilities across the globe.

3. Scenario Simulators

Having cool tools that can make the body function better is only half the battle; doctors need to keep unforeseen consequences to a minimum. That’s why simulation tools are key to keeping medical professionals attentive to issues that could come out of nowhere. A new, high-tech simulation dubbed “Tori,” for instance, links up a doll to a computer that can induce “breathing” irregularities or turn its plastic skin different colors to simulate issues such as jaundice. Safe to say, this isn’t your Bitty Baby Doll of yesteryear.

4. Thermal Cameras for Hospitals

We need more nurses than ever, with some estimating that there’s a supply shortage of health-care professionals ranging from 25 to 30 percent. Furthermore, accidental falls are a big risk factor for death and permanent disability. Integrating thermal imaging into hospital cameras can allow staff to see patients even in low-light (read: night) settings, reducing the probability of a fall that they can’t see. When coupled with monitoring centers staffed by nurses and EMTs, the technology led to a 60 percent decline in falls.


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Ross Marchand is a Catalyst Policy Fellow and the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. He focuses on a range of issues, ranging from health-care reform to internet regulation to Postal Service-related issues. Ross is an alumnus of the Mercatus Center MA Fellowship at George Mason University, where he received his MA in economics in 2016. He has interned for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, analyzing and blogging on a variety of public policy issues.
Catalyst articles by Ross Marchand