New digital healthcare advances come to US hospitals

New digital healthcare advances come to US hospitals

Robotic spine surgery and smartphone-linked cardiac monitors come to US hospitals
Henry Ford Allegiance Health neurosurgeons Azam Basheer MD and Amritraj Loganathan MD, with the ExcelciusGPS robot.

From diagnostic AI to 3D wound imaging, it seems hardly a day goes by without a new breakthrough in digital healthcare. Here are two of the latest innovations out of the US.

While many examples of digital healthcare (like those mentioned above) originate in the UK, given their deeper pockets, US healthcare providers are perhaps more likely early adopters of new advances. One recent example comes from the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, where clinicians have just started using smartphone-compatible cardiac monitors.

The Confirm Rx insertable cardiac monitor (ICM) is the first of its kind and St David’s is the first hospital in Texas to use the technology. The implant is inserted just under the skin of the chest, in a quick, easy procedure. Here, the device will continuously monitor a patient’s heart rhythm and actively send the collected data to a smartphone, via Bluetooth.

The myMerlin mobile app then allows their doctor to remotely tack their condition and diagnose arrhythmias (an abnormal heart rhythm that develops when disease or injury disrupts the heart’s electrical signals, causing the heart to beat erratically) that may require treatment.

Read more: Australian researchers partner with Huawei for smart healthcare

Remote cardiac monitoring

This remote functionality allows both quicker alerts for any potential issues, improving patient care, and negates the expense and time required to bring a patient into the hospital. While remotely transmitting implantable monitors aren’t new, the Confirm Rx ICM eliminates the need for supplementary technology.

“What differentiates the Confirm Rx ICM from other implantable monitors is that it doesn’t require a home base station to transmit information,” said Robert Canby MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at TCAI. “Instead, it utilizes a secure Bluetooth wireless connection to transmit that data to the patient’s smartphone or tablet. This allows the data to then be immediately sent to a monitoring station, rather than waiting until the patient returns home to connect to a base station.”

The app lets you record symptoms on demand, view transmissions and symptom history, and send information to your clinic without having to wait for a nightly sync.

Read more: MediaTek Sensio: the first six-in-one smartphone biosensor module revealed

Robotic spine surgery

Elsewhere, Michigan-based Henry Ford Allegiance Health has begun to offer robotic spine procedures with the help of the ExelciusGPS surgical system. By combining the benefits of navigation and robotics in one technology, this digital healthcare newcomer seeks to overcome the risks that accompany spine surgery.

Robot-assisted surgery is proven to boost the accuracy of procedures, limiting damage to healthy tissue and improving recovery times. While the cost of entry is an insurmountable barrier for many health institutions, those that can overcome this are seeing outstanding results.

As with any new technology, early adopters will pay premium prices. As demand increases, manufacturing processes mature, and technology becomes more mainstream, surgery robotics will become a more realistic option for many.

“Robot-assisted surgery is a new, emerging area that will become the standard in care,” said Henry Ford Allegiance Health neurosurgeon Frank La Marca MD. “At Henry Ford Allegiance Health, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care for our spine surgery patients. We are excited to offer our patients the advantages of the Excelcius system, which allows us to perform minimally invasive procedures which may result in less blood loss, less muscle damage and a potentially faster recovery.”

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GPS-guided implants and screws

The solution benefits from GPS 3D guided technology, thanks to its seamless integration with preoperative CT, intraoperative CT, and fluoroscopic imaging systems. This allows a neurosurgeon to place screws and implants precisely, via the rigid robotic arm, and enables them to see the exact positioning of objects during an operation.

“The GPS navigation gives me continuous feedback and allows me to see everything in real time. Now, my colleagues and I can pre-program coordinates, so the robotic arm can assist in guiding us to precise locations in the patient’s spine,” said Henry Ford Allegiance neurosurgeon Azam Basheer MD. “The result is safer, faster surgery with less radiation exposure and less need to reposition my patient.”

The navigation system also allows operators to make safer, more consistent and smaller incisions, which promotes healing and reduces scarring. Robot-assisted surgery has huge potential when it comes to freeing up beds by boosting recovery times – certainly something hospitals will be weighing up when considering adopting robotics.

Read more: Junto Health: Healthcare’s journey to IoT maturity


Coming soon: Our Internet of Health event will be taking place in Boston, USA on June 26 & 27 2018. Attendees will hear how providers in this sector are harnessing the power of IoT to gain new insights and transform patient care.

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