It’s always amazing to look how far humans have come. We created the wheel, cars, computers, game consoles, and technology that can predict what we need, when we need it. Today, our technology is being driven by big data, mobility, security, and cloud computing and our society and the business world around us is rapidly changing because of it.
With the emphasis being on pushing research to find the next innovation that could benefit humanity, entire industries are transforming to match the pace. Of course, that means that today’s technology and healthcare are getting ridiculously awesome. With new trends in technology pushing fantastic research and inventions; hospitals, researchers, doctors, and patients all get to benefit from the new possibilities.
Tell Us How!
Part of these benefits came from an unlikely place: 3D printing. At first, this technology was meant to make prototypes fast and cheap but now it’s being used as a manufacturing tool by itself.
For the healthcare industry, 3D printing has been broadly applied to making anything from prosthetic legs and arms to hearing aids to crowns and dentures, which can all be made from plastic and made to match a specific patient. 3D printing allows everything to be completely customizable, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
Now, 3D printing has gone even further. Doctors can now print people new knee joints from nylon. These new knees are surgically implanted into the patient and viola! Off they go to dance the salsa with their significant other and run various marathons. Before 3D printing was a thing, doctors only had six or so types of knees they could use and they had to operate on the patient based on the prosthetic knee, not the person’s body. Now, doctors can design and print one for that patient specifically. They don’t have to cut off extra bits of bone and that means that person can go have fun break-dancing all the sooner.
This November, Hewlett-Packard revealed its new 3D printer called the Multi Jet Fusion. HP Matter, a digital magazine produced by Hewlett-Packard in partnership with Fast Company, spoke with Scott Schiller, the person who helped digitize the company’s traditional printing business.
“There’s a saying about prosthetic limbs that a prosthesis is only as good as its socket interface—the connection to the body. Scanning technologies can evaluate the limb, instead of relying on [conventional] visual analysis, and then 3D printing technologies that are really dot-for-dot, voxel-by-voxel, can personalize the prosthesis for the person.” – Scott Schiller
Now, grab onto your seats because it is going to get even more awesome. With 3D printing, doctors can print out an accurate model of your chest cavity so that, should you ever need an artificial heart while waiting for the real thing, they can know before they operate if the artificial heart will fit or not. Just like the benefits 3D printing has for knee transplants, doctors can know more about what they are going to encounter before you even get to the operating table, which greatly lowers your risk and speeds up the process.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video from HP Matter:
Fun Fact: HP Matter actually has a special offer going on. You can Register for HP Matter for a chance to win an HP SlateBook x2, an Ultrabook™, and a tablet in one. Weekly drawings will be conducted throughout January and February. Neat!
“Another interesting application is fluidics modeling. Imagine you have to have bypass surgery and the surgeons can go through all the possibilities of [the heart] and evaluate the best path. You take an image of the structure, 3D print it, and based on what you learn, you choose the best path.” – Scott Schiller
The big jumps that technology today is experiencing because of big data, mobility, security, and cloud computing are amazing. We went from being able to make wheels to being able to print an exact copy of someone’s chest cavity.
What do you think might be the next technological advancement in healthcare?