Top Health Innovations

Healthcare is always changing as new research and discoveries lead to changes that improve care. Here’s what area experts see as the top innovations in development now or coming very soon.

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

From physician Robert Corona, board-certified in neuropathology and in pathology and general informatics at Upstate Medical University

• “Precision medicine where we see diagnostics, molecular genomics and personalize therapeutics. Much of the way we categorize disease states on location or appearance. A glandular cancer you call it based on where you find it. We’re starting to call it on its molecular characteristics. A glandular cancer in the breast might be associated with the colon. You can more quickly develop medication. If this glandular cancer had a certain enzyme that the chemo therapeutic was targeting, a drug using the same mechanism might be able to target it better. It has the same underlying mechanism.

• “Liquid biopsy, where you take blood. If you find circulating cancer cells before they form a mass, it might be easier to treat if limited to a small area in an organ and in the bloodstream. Once you know the enzyme that’s characteristic of that cancer, you can tailor the therapeutic to it to cause less toxicity to the patient and more targeted therapy.

• “It’s hoped that every cancer patient has a genetic profile done and as drugs become available, we’d be able to treat it.

• “Artificial intelligence software packages are used to determine if someone is having a stroke. You can use technology to level the playing field. Maybe in the future we’ll need fewer specialists because you’ll need less knowledge. You’ll need operational knowledge and the backup of AI with the diagnosis. Technology is leveraged to level the playing field. A general practitioner in the middle of nowhere can use AI. What’s the latest literature? It doesn’t have to even be something complex, but a certain bacteria causing ear infections and the AI can show trends moving in the trend of where that patient is.”

From physician Az Tahir, High Point Wellness in Syracuse 

• “One exciting thing is stem cell studies. It’s amazing the conditions that were not treatable before. Research is going on in diabetes, spinal cord injuries, dementia and ALS. Tendon and joint injuries won’t need as many surgeries because of stem cells.

• “Gene therapy is still experimental but it’s amazing. Retinitis pigmentosa — there’s no treatment for that. Usually, people go blind in two to three years’ time. Now the patient is able to see. It’s very expensive. It’s amazing and has quite a future.

• “With genetic diagnosis, people can prevent things from even happening. Diagnosis in the future will be very deep. We’ll be able to do mitochondrial diagnosis and know what’s happening in the cells.

• “The power to the patient is going to be even bigger. They’ll have more knowledge on new conditions and how they can stay healthy through technology. They can find out their sleep at night and other health statistics through things like the Apple watch. You can see your blood pressure and blood sugar levels 24 hours. More and more things will be coming up. People will be able to diagnose conditions very, very early.

• “Reversing diseases is growing. Diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension, now, with individualized food prepping, we can reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol without medication and diminish medication.

• “There will be vaccine for not only infections but also cancer, Type 1 diabetes and other diseases.

• “Artificial intelligence has many potential uses coming up. Many hospitals are using this so the patient can communicate with the nurse through Alexa, ‘Tell the nurse I have pain.’ There’s a lot of potential.”

From Joelle Margrey, vice-president of Skilled Nursing at Loretto

• “We’ll see more using and implementing telehealth to meet quality initiatives that improve patient outcomes, not just in post-acute facilities but across healthcare. It will reduce preventable re-hospitalization.

• “Telehealth improves the patient’s access to healthcare expertise, especially in rural areas. They can coordinate care upon discharge from the hospital. As far as patient care, the use of telehealth improves the quality of care and outcomes. There’s a reduced gap in the time of care. Some patients have an inability of getting to care because of a lack of transportation and because of living in a rural area. They can stay close to home and their supports.

• “A big component is they can play an active role in their healthcare. Telehealth can provide some good information on signs and symptoms so it doesn’t get to that place where they do need hospitalization.

• “The system I’m going to be implementing in a couple weeks is a centralized monitoring intervention method. The patient has a disposable patch he can wear on his chest. It lasts five days. It streams hemodynamic data to a centralized monitoring station. This monitoring station is staffed 24/7 with emergency room physicians and nurse practitioners. They monitor respiratory rates, oxygen saturation levels, blood pressure, blood glucose, skin temperature, heart rate, rate and if you fall. We can hook up an EKG to it. This can help us track and trend any changes in condition so orders can be obtained to treat earlier and treat in place. The patient has access to the provider at the click of a button because they have an iPad and can call up the monitoring center and can talk with the provider. If we recognize a change in their condition, a call is made to the RN.”