Biomedical Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
like diabetes and Alzheimer's represent a growing threat, not only to patients but
to our ability to keep health care affordable. We know that we have to do better in
our lifestyles and in our health care system to avoid an enormous disease burden
and economic burden on the Boomers themselves, their families, employers, and
federal and state governments. The recent research programs funded by EU focus
on prevention starting from the younger generations, promoting the adoption of
healthier lifestyles, light monitoring of basic bio-signals for early detection of the
main pathologies and collaborations/integrations among all the healthcare actors
through ICT systems. Also new pharmaceuticals are a vital part of the solution to
this rapidly emerging issue.
Therefore the new vision is the Targeted Approach to Treatment . Increasingly,
the administration of new medicines will be guided by predictive evidence from
genetic and other molecular tests. The expectation of “personalized medicine”
is that these tests will reveal whether an individual is likely to respond well to a
drug, or avoid toxic side effects. A targeted approach to treatment can ensure that
each patient receives the right medicine at the right time. About a dozen of such
treatments are in use today, and the field is growing rapidly. Since molecular diag-
nostic tests can reveal a patient's susceptibility to disease, they can also guide
preventive treatment before symptoms arise. The emergence of personalized medi-
cine will shift the focus of medical care from “disease treatment” to “health care
When speaking of personalized medicine and anywhere anytime healthcare ser-
vices, this means that for the future of Healthcare, it is necessary to look beyond
the Hospital. Nowadays Healthcare services are hospital centered; but this infra-
structure is set up to rely on high-cost facilities. If we need—as we strongly need
both for economic reasons and, maybe more, for an improved quality of life—
to lower costs, this will require innovative treatment at a new type of facility or
preferably at home. This means dedicated innovation in new easy-to-use and safe
technology for “distributing” the health services to the user-patient point-of-care.
In actual fact, technology is also profoundly changing from this standpoint: it is
moving from being concentrated at the point of care in the hospital to being in
the hands of patients and caregivers. For the last century, technology has been
geared toward replacing the dialogue between the patient and the physician; it was
designed to reveal the “truth” about medical conditions that most consumers can
barely comprehend.
But chronic disease management challenges even this and requires consum-
ers to participate in maintaining and managing their health—often on a day-to-
day basis. The smartphone and iPad communication revolution, where technology
becomes an enabler of positive social and environmental change, allowed (source
Kaiser Permanente) [ 8 ] delivering 5 million visits via videoconference (Skype),
telephone, and email in last two years in the U.S.A.. Shifting health care from a
“point of service” clinical model to an ongoing dialogue between patients and
their providers is a profound social and technological shift. This “revolution” is
particularly relevant in chronic disease management, e.g. asthma, diabetes, obe-
sity, and also cancer. This issue is rapidly and largely growing with the increase
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