Like all industries, healthcare has moved forward by leaps and bounds over the past decades. Much of this change has been made possible by newer and better technologies. These technologies, in turn, have given doctors everywhere treatment options for their patients that would have seemed like science fiction 40 or 50 years ago. Here are four ways that technology is improving healthcare from the surgical theater to the general practitioner’s office.

Virtual Reality Surgical Planning

One of the most impressive uses for cutting-edge technologies in healthcare is the application of virtual reality technology in surgical planning. When planning a surgery, surgeons must carefully take many different factors about the patient’s body and specific condition into account. Normally, this is done through the use of different imaging technologies, including x-rays, MRI and CT scans.

With modern virtual reality technology, however, the data from these different imaging technologies can be compiled into an immersive 3D environment for the surgeon and his or her team. This allows the surgical team to more easily visualize different surgical methods and possible complications during the procedure. The result is faster, more accurate planning that minimizes the risk to the patient.

Improved Patient Engagement

It’s no secret that being in a hospital is far from a pleasant experience for most people. New technologies, however, are working to ensure that the hospital experience is improved for the patient as much as possible. These improvements can be simple, such as letting patients control the temperature in their rooms or providing entertainment, to much more important ones, including allowing patients to video conference with specialized physicians from their hospital beds. Patient engagement technology is getting better every year and making the healthcare industry friendlier to the patient in the process.

More Functional Prosthetics

One of the areas of medicine that has benefited most from enhanced technology is the creation of prosthetic body parts. Primitive prosthetic limbs have been around for centuries, but the modern age has brought them to a never before seen point of functionality. With new technologies like 3D printing, prosthetic body parts can now be made to conform perfectly to the patient’s body, alleviating the once-common problem of having too many parts that just don’t fit and that would cause irritation and painful sores because of their rubbing against the skin.

Aside from just being better fitted, prosthetics are now able to do far more than they were once able to. Prosthetic legs, for example, can now allow a person to run comfortably, while prosthetic hands and arms now have powered mechanical components that allow them to function much like real human limbs. Similar advances have been made in the development of other prosthetic parts. As time goes on and more research is conducted, these advances are likely to continue.

Remote Medical Monitoring

The need to physically go see a doctor has always been one of the biggest patient-side challenges in medicine. These days, however, it’s possible for vital medical data to be collected remotely through monitoring devices. Video conferencing with physicians has also become increasingly common, meaning that patients can seek the advice of a physician without physically have to go see one. This adds both convenience and efficiency to the medical consultation system.

Consistent improvements in technology have given the medical industry cutting-edge tools that can be used to improve the health and lives of patients everywhere. At the same time, these new technologies have paved the way for even larger advances and breakthroughs. Medical technology will likely push even farther forward in the coming years. Every day, researchers work tirelessly to break new ground and develop treatment options for today’s most challenging medical conditions.