Cancer kills around 10,000 people every year in the UK alone because their condition is diagnosed too late. At a global scale, this figure could be even more staggering! Delay in detection can directly impact a patient’s chance of recovery and survival, leading to more serious complications or even death.
World over, there is an increasing shift towards the prevention of diseases to improve patient outcomes and contain costs. Companies are aiding this shift by developing technologies that detect diseases sooner or even prevent them through early treatment. Governments and international healthcare organizations are also actively rallying behind these developments.
A recent example is the partnership between the University of Oxford and Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization(CIMTEC) to jointly develop and test a new enhanced ultrasound imaging technology that could aid in the early diagnosis of tumors. The technology uses a combination of electromagnetic and acoustic waves to create clearer images cost efficiently.
In another development, scientists and medics are set to test a unique technology, which could help in the early diagnosis of conditions such as the painful brittle bone disease. Currently, this genetic bone condition is often diagnosed after multiple painful fractures have already occurred to newborn babies. But this technology will now allow simpler and more cost-effective methods of detecting and treating such painful and degenerative diseases at a much earlier stage.
Similarly, Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated 6.3 million people worldwide. Although significant research has been done on this neurological disease, this has been limited to its causes. Additionally, tests that detect this condition have traditionally been costly and time consuming.
But in a major breakthrough for Parkinson’s disease research, a team from MIT analyzed the voice patterns of patients who had been diagnosed with this disorder to detect the disease in the speech patterns of these individuals. Their tool uses computer algorithms to analyze fluctuations, tremors and other indicators in recordings of the human voice to identify symptoms associated with the disease, while also measuring its progression.
Technology could also be a boon to about one percent of the world’s population afflicted with autism. To aid in early diagnosis of this disability, scientists from Duke University have recently developed an application that detects signs of autism. The software works by tracking and recording infants’ activity during filmed screening tests and automatically reporting any potential red flags.
Though cutting-edge technology aids in the early diagnosis and efficient management of disease, and significantly improves the quality of life and reduces healthcare costs; cost of developing medical devices needs to come down. Emerging economies are innovating in this space with devices such as fetal monitoring devices which can detect complications in advance and are developed at a fraction of the cost.
How else can technology aid in early diagnosis and treatment of diseases? Please leave your comments in the section below.