IEEE: On a Mission to Make Healthcare Personal, Again

Dec 07, 2010, 09:00 ET from IEEE

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Members of IEEE, the world's largest technical professional association, are advancing the application of engineering sciences and technology with medicine and biology to make healthcare personal again.  By fostering a collaborative approach to healthcare that integrates ideas from researchers in healthcare informatics, communications, imaging, robotics, systems biology, neuro-engineering, among other disciplines, IEEE and its members can advance the state of understanding diseases and outcomes, explore their relationships on a personalized biological basis, and bridge medical humanism and technology.

"Healthcare is undergoing major changes enabled by the rapid technology developments at all informatics levels.  For example, we've seen the revolutionary impact of imaging technologies on radiology and medicine, and we are seeing that computer and mobile technologies are modernizing the way healthcare is delivered and managed," said Dr. Zhi-Pei Liang, IEEE fellow and 2011 President of IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.  "It is through better acquisition of image data, the ubiquitous deployment of microchips, computers and sensors, critical achievements in systems biology research and intelligent mining of electronic patient records that we can deliver more effective, personalized medical diagnostics and therapeutics – profound enough to change our lives and our society."

IEEE members are transforming the future of medicine and healthcare.  From formalized mathematical theory through experimental science, and from technological development to practical clinical applications, IEEE members have applied concepts and methods of the physical and engineering sciences to progress modern healthcare.  Examples of technological innovation to improve the quality of patient care include: designing the electrical circuits that make a pacemaker work; developing the transport technologies that allow patients and doctors to communicate over long distances; delivering new electronic and mobile health (eHealth/mHealth) applications that digitize and automate healthcare knowledge to better understand the relationship between symptoms/conditions, diseases, medications/treatments and outcomes.

Dr. Liang continued, "IEEE members provide a critical link between engineering and life and health sciences; their work and accomplishments have made healthcare more effective, more efficient and more assessable."

IEEE fosters integrative efforts that accelerate knowledge discovery, and contributions towards advances in research and the practice of healthcare.  Today, IEEE members globally are putting those advances to work in:

  • mHealth: Dr. Kevin Curran, IEEE senior member and Group Leader for the Ambient Intelligence Research Group at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland recognizes, "It is not only healthcare that benefits from the practice of mHealth.  mHealth supports the improvement of patient care through the advancement of medical technology and enables easy communication of data between healthcare providers, allowing patients to undertake self-assessments.  Ultimately it eliminates the need to travel to see a specialist."
  • Medical Access Cards: Professor Paulo Miyagi, IEEE senior member and founding professor of the Mechatronics Engineering Department at the University of Sao Paolo Polytechnic School in Brazil, believes, "With advances in medical record keeping and eHealth, physicians will soon be able to use a medical access card which accesses a database shared by several hospitals.  This will be very useful during emergencies, when it is important to quickly identify a patient and avoid diagnostic errors and delayed treatment.  This is a tremendous opportunity to work collaboratively with doctors out of a patient's network to minimize patient inaccuracies that could later have serious consequences."
  • Telehealth: Dr. Yadin David, IEEE senior member notes, "Clinical information transmission has increasingly influenced the expansion of medical care services facilitating new capacity for remote interventions.  In the early years, as healthcare providers experimented with telehealth tools, they were faced with barriers such as lack of sufficient bandwidth, questionable imaging quality, unanswered regulatory and credentialing questions, and lack of sufficient reimbursement.  Recent technological advances, however, specifically in communications, computing power and biomedical devices, coupled with the demonstration of wider acceptance of computer-based services (banking, shopping, texting, socializing) have now made telehealth programs a mainstream industry."
  • Robotics in Healthcare: Professor Kazuhiro Kosuge, president of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (2010-2011) and an IEEE Fellow, shares thoughts on what he feels is most interesting in the creation/invention of robots for real life situations, "The Paro therapeutic robot baby seal, developed in Japan, is a fantastic example of robotics in healthcare aiding patients in environments such as hospitals and extended care facilities where live animals present treatment or logistical difficulties.  In fact, the Danish government decided that by 2011, it will deliver 1,000 Paro robots to cover almost all facilities for aged people in nursing homes – marking a strong correlation of the human-robot connection."

The integration of scientific, technological, and educational activities can be seen through a number of IEEE healthcare standards initiatives, society actions, and global conferences from the 2011 IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging: From Nano to Micro to the 2011 Healthcare Informatics, Imaging, and Systems Biology (HISB) event.  Additionally,  and IEEE Spectrum offers numerous videos on the cross-section of technology and modern medicine to aid in personal healthcare, such as: Surgeons Got Game, The Rocket-Powered Prosthetic Arm, Biomedical Engineering at the Mayo Clinic, Feeding the Machine: The World's Most Sophisticated Artificial Stomach, and Tapping the Computing Power of the Unconscious Brain, among others.

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