Possibly The 10 Biggest Health Care Technology Innovations in 2015

Could These be the 10 Biggest Health Care Technology Innovations in 2015?

 

Technology Innovations
Technology Innovations

Healthcare has made a lot of progress in the last few years, but the real excitement has yet to come. Dozens of new technologies are poised to grant us immeasurably better health in only a few years’ time and some of these fledgling fields may provide us with better medicine as soon as this year. Here are the ten biggest health care technology innovations we’ll see in 2015 and beyond!

Blood Testing Improvements
Blood Testing Improvements

1. Blood Testing

Testing blood has always been inefficient. Historically, we’ve always needed to draw a lot of blood to run only a few tests. Companies like Theranos are changing everything. New testing methods allow laboratory technicians to run tests with samples only 1/1000 of the usual size, thereby reducing costs and patient discomfort while expediting the procedures.

2. Digital Promotion

New enterprise cloud business intelligence software is revolutionizing the way medical practices handle referrals and promotion. Ditching the pad of paper used by nearly all healthcare systems in favor of an electronic alternative, the new digital systems will help practices avoid unnecessary expenditures. As it stands, nearly 50% of referrals don’t lead to a visit, and misplaced or stolen referrals lead to a growing number of malpractice suits each year.

Robotic Surgery Simulator
Robotic Surgery Simulator

3. Simulated Training

No one wants to consider the possibility that a surgeon is performing an operation for the first time, but everyone requires training. Thankfully, it’s now possible to simulate the environment in which surgeons operate. The Roswell Park Cancer Institute has helped spur the use of a Robotic Surgery Simulator (or RoSS) which allows surgeons to experiment in different situations.

4. Nanobot Medicine

Nanobot medicine payloads have successfully been tested in animal trials. All that’s left to do is conduct studies using human subjects, and we may have a method of both preventing and treating many dangerous diseases and ailments, including cancer. Nanobots are special because of their microscopic size and the ability to deliver regional treatment like chemotherapy directly to the cells which need them, and that means no more friendly fire.

plastic surgery
plastic surgery

5. Reconstructive Surgery

Stem-cell treatments are on the rise, especially in reconstructive and plastic surgeries. Lipo-filling involves transporting fat cells from one part of the body to another in order to repair damaged tissue or fix deformities, and stem-cell enhanced fat is proven to retain 81% of its volume compared to lipo-filling’s 16%. This is just one of the many invasive reconstructive and plastic surgeries which stem-cell treatments have the potential to replace, and soon.

6. Holographic Displays

Motion-control technology is expanding rapidly into the mainstream, and will be paired with holographic displays in the near future. Keyboards in particular are extremely difficult to clean properly, but they’re impossible to live without in medical environments. Germs can’t infiltrate a holographic display, and that should help hospitals stay just a little bit cleaner.

Modernized Hospitals
Modernized Hospitals

7. Modernized Hospitals

Hospitals haven’t changed all that much in decades, so companies like NXT Health are hoping to revolutionize patient care with modernized rooms. In addition to providing a more comfortable atmosphere, the goal of the program focuses on creating a modular system capable of efficiently switching in and out necessary components while eliminating redundancy and human error.

8. Mind Control

Great progress has been made in the field of prosthetic limbs. Not only are they becoming more aesthetically pleasing and realistic, but now we can control them with only our minds. The technology reads brain activity in order to send impulse signals which make the limb function. It doesn’t yet provide human-like mobility and dexterity, but we’re getting closer and closer. How long before we can augment the human body with additional parts which respond to our own brain signals?

Mitochondrial DNA Transfer
Mitochondrial DNA Transfer

9. Mitochondrial DNA Transfer

The U.K. recently legalized a procedure in which newborns can have up to three biological parents. The process uses mitochondrial DNA transfer in order to reduce or eliminate the genetic transfer of rare and debilitating diseases, but could also one day help non-traditional couples have children.

10. Head Transplants

It may seem far-fetched, but there has been talk in the medical community of transplanting human heads. This charge has been led by the assumption that Moore’s Law will be upheld for an indefinite time period. The law states that the number of transistors that can be allocated to a computer chip is effectively doubled every two years, increasing the speed and effectiveness of computer processing at an exponential rate.

map the human brain
map the human brain

When we combine this growth with our ability to map the human brain, we can start talking about the possibility of uploading a human mind to another body even without a brain transplant. One day soon, we may even have the option of transferring our consciousness into a robotic body, extending our life expectancy indefinitely.

Dr. Sergio Canavero suggests that it’s already possible to remove the head from one person and transport into to the body of another, and he believes the first such operation could occur within the remarkably small time frame of just two years.

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Budget Cuts Could Hinder IRS Processing This Season

Budget Cuts May Hamper IRS Efforts This Tax Season

Budget Cuts
Budget Cuts

Due to budget cuts that have taken place over the past five years, the Internal Revenue Service says that it may take longer to provide service to taxpayers. It may also take the IRS more time to issue refunds as fewer employees may be hired to process returns. In an extreme scenario, the IRS may even be forced to shut-down for several days.

Taxpayers
Taxpayers

The IRS Had Its Budget Slashed $350 Million This Year

Congress slashed the amount of money allocated to running the IRS by $350 million in the past year. In addition, the agency has also had to fund $250 million in government raises and additional benefits given to employees. This effectively put the IRS in a $600 million hole for 2015, which is on top of cuts made during sequestration. Currently, these cuts have meant that the agency has not been able to build an efficient infrastructure to help provide effective service for taxpayers.

It May Be Harder to Get Someone on the Phone

Those who use the Internet are going to find it relatively easy to get the help that they need when filing their taxes. However, there are concerns about how low-income taxpayers, the elderly and others who may not use the Internet are going to get help with questions that they may have. With millions of phone calls coming in each day, there may be significant delays for those who are trying to speak to an actual person about their return.

Hiring Freeze
Hiring Freeze

Hiring and Overtime Freezes Could Make Things Worse

If budget cuts continue, it may be harder for people to get through to IRS representatives or get their refund in a timely manner. This is because the agency may have to put a hiring freeze in place as well as deny overtime to workers. For this tax year, 10,000 to 11,000 seasonal workers have already been hired and are going through the training process. However, the number of seasonal workers hired in future years will depend on whether or not cuts to the budget are restored. Currently, roughly 75 percent of the IRS budget is used to pay for its human resources.

Tax Policy
Tax Policy

Congress Makes Tax Policy

The IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted that the tax policy is ultimately decided by Congress and not by the IRS itself. However, the commissioner did say that the tax code is extremely bloated and needs to be streamlined immediately. He also mentioned that the lack of enforcement could make it easier for those who cheat or cut corners on their taxes to get away with it.

This Could Lead to People Being Scammed or Committing Fraud

With the tax code being so burdensome, it may be difficult for the average taxpayer to understand what they are sending to the government. This may especially true for those who have been on Obamacare in the past year and took advantage of the advance tax credit. To prevent potential abuse, taxpayers are asked to check into the history of anyone who prepares their taxes. In addition, they are advised to not sign a blank return under any circumstances.

The IRS
The IRS

Free Help May be Available from the IRS

Those who need help may be able to get free assistance from the IRS if they file their personal returns online. They may also be able to get help over the phone from Practitioner Priority Service. While almost anyone may be able to get help, these services are aimed at low-income or disabled individuals. They are also designed to help those who may not be proficient in English.

Could the IRS Actually Shut Down?

While the IRS is not likely to shut-down on a permanent basis, it could be shuttered for a few days per year. While this would likely exacerbate the issue of customer service, it would save the agency $29 million each day it was not open. However, this would likely be a nuclear option that would come into effect only if all other options are exhausted. Mr. Koskinen noted that any moves made could not be done gratuitously and would have to be made with the taxpayer in mind.

The Future
The Future

If future cuts are made to the IRS budget, it could represent a record number of consecutive years in which the budget has been cut. For some, this may seem like a way to keep government in check. However, for many, it may make it harder to submit a proper return or get the tax refund that they are entitled to in a timely manner.

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