Editorial Feature

How Semiconductors are Changing Healthcare

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The recent years saw the integration of technology in healthcare practices in order to make medical treatment more advanced, reliable, and accurate. At a current market size of about US$400 billion worldwide, the use of semiconductors in medicine is expected to further boost the market by about US$10 billion by the end of 2018. Semiconductors have taken over numerous aspects of the medical industry, enabling the market to segment or categorize them by use (consumer medical equipment, portable telehealth monitoring systems, clinical diagnostic devices, and medical imaging), by types of semiconductors (electronic, compound, thin-coated, optical), and by types of sensors used (high-sensitivity, gesture, proximity, and movement sensing).

Given this rate, it is easy to say that technological advancements, particularly in semiconductor technology, has given rise to many successful developments and applications in medicine. Presented below are specific healthcare developments brought about by the integration of semiconductors in the field.

Utilization of Chip Technology

Modern medical equipment are now using sensors and motion micro-electromechanical systems, microcontrollers, memory power management devices, and discrete devices in order to yield better quality testing outcomes in medicine. These innovations are integrated into a variety of medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging, blood pressure monitors, and pacemakers, as well as in a number of applications, including clinical diagnostics and home-based healthcare.

While such equipment is already available prior to the onset of semiconductor use in healthcare, the development of new technologies allowed for a more reliable, specific, and integrative approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Improvements in Providing Quality Healthcare

The use of semiconductors in medicine has now replaced manually-operated processes for more medically accurate instruments. As a result, the field of medicine is continuously equipped with mechanisms that enable the diagnosis and treatment of initially untreatable diseases through the use of more advanced, semiconductor-enabled technologies; the establishment of a relationship between particular genetic abnormalities in rare phenotypic under developments through the use of biochips or biosensors; and the promulgation of available medical treatments at a faster and more reliable pace through state-of-the-art equipment.

An example of this is the use of artificial intelligence and nanoelectronic biosensors in physiological examinations to create a medical formulation, diagnosis, symptomatology, expected outcomes, and ideal treatment for a specific type of disease. Empirical studies created of such devices in healthcare are currently being assessed in order to establish a solid foundation on the strengths and limitations of technology in providing better health outcomes. Specifically, researchers aim to utilize nanoelectronics biosensors and similar mechanisms in the treatment and diagnosis of cardiovascular conditions and, potentially, cancer.

Increased Relevance of Medical Research

According to researchers, the main goal of integrating medicine with semiconductor technology is to facilitate faster, more practical methods of disease prevention. Given the current trends and advancements in medical technology, it could be perceived that such a goal may be realized. For instance, prior to contemporary medical and technological advances, analyzing a human being’s genetic makeup took about 2000 years to complete; however, with developments in medicine, the process would only take about two weeks. Similarly, medical equipment developed using empirically-based technological formulations have finally been utilized to identify cancer cells within a billion units of blood cells.

These empirical developments suggest the positive effects brought about by semiconductor technology in the field of medicine. One particular innovation developed using the advent of semiconductors in medicine is connected healthcare. This type of technology allows healthcare providers to monitor diseases, share data securely, and analyze medical information remotely. Such devices promote more accessible healthcare, especially in remote or rural areas. For example, electrocardiography-sensing smartphones are not used in China to monitor cardiovascular conditions of patients residing in rural areas. Meanwhile, medical companies have now started to utilize drones for delivering human medical supplies (e.g. blood or organs) in Rwanda. Doctors would only need to send a text, and the drone’s GPS tracker would be able to independently navigate the exact location from where the text was sent from.

In recent years, the use of semiconductors in healthcare has truly been maximized. While many technologically-integrated medical equipments are still being researched, the extensive use of semiconductors in almost all portions of the healthcare process is evidence of how technology is advancing and developing healthcare. In the near future, researchers are predicting the promulgation of even more web-integrated wireless devices and digital diagnostic methods.

Sources and Further Reading

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