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Health Care Technology Introduction, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

In recent years, the health care industry has capitalized on many remarkable advances in medical technology, including breakthroughs in computing, communications, small-incision surgery, drug therapies, diagnostics, advanced radiation and instruments.  For example, huge advances are being made in the fields of cardiovascular care, cancer care, diagnostic imaging and testing, organ transplants and minimally invasive surgery.
In the area of drug development, innovative methods, including genome mapping and high-throughput screening, are providing a clearer understanding of the potential of drugs before they are sent into clinical trials.  In addition, the FDA has hired legions of employees in recent years to help process applications for new drugs, medical procedures and equipment.  Nonetheless, drug development remains a slow, tedious, extremely expensive risk, and very few potential drugs make it through trials and onto the market.
Meanwhile, more emphasis is being placed on the use of computers and advanced telecommunication technology in many phases of hospital operations and patient care, often in conjunction with complex equipment, to diagnose and improve patients’ conditions.  Investors, well aware of the long-term potential growth of the industry, continue to be anxious to fund new health technologies.  An extensive use of digitized patient records is slowly becoming a reality.  Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are leading to massive improvements in patient diagnosis, drug discovery, research and clinical records management.  Some physicians now rave about their ability to use AI-based tools, such as Augmedix, to transcribe audio records of patient visits into written health records.
The first half of the 21st century promises to bring even greater milestones in human health as we begin to reap the benefits of new therapies created through biotechnology and genetic engineering.  As our understanding of human biology at the molecular level matures, genetically engineered pharmaceuticals and gene therapies will be developed that target diseases at their molecular origins, thus lessening the need for more costly elements of treatment such as invasive surgery and acute care.  If applied during the early stages of disease development, these new biotechnologies will extend and improve the quality of life for the patient.  If the disease has already caused the failure or malfunction of vital organs or tissue, it may one day be possible for the patient to receive a fully functioning, engineered replacement, grown from cells harvested from the patient’s own tissues.  
Gene mapping and proteomics will allow patients to be screened to determine whether they are genetically predisposed to certain diseases.  Dramatic breakthroughs are already being made by determining, through personal gene mapping, whether a patient is likely to respond favorably to specific drug therapies for cancer and other diseases.  The use of personal genetic profiles in order to avoid adverse reactions to specific drugs will eventually become important as well.
Knowledge obtained from biomedical research will also help to improve the general health of the public by identifying beneficial behavioral changes.  Meanwhile, advanced imaging technology, including 320-slice CT scanning (capable of providing incredibly precise, high-resolution scans of the body), will greatly enhance physicians’ ability to diagnose patients and lead to earlier intervention and higher rates of cure.

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