July 15, 2017
Sure, we have these cool imaging machines and they can glean our innards and even thoughts, so what’s the big deal?
But wait, I’m not kidding about mind-reading. Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI has reached the stage where our dreams can be read and the images reconstructed in real time. See this TED video Could future devices read images from our brains? and remember that its a few years old.
Back to the big deal about medical imaging. In short, crisp images yield good diagnoses. That’s a fancy way of saying doctors can confirm a patient’s condition quickly. Which in turn drives better care at lower costs. This is often referred to as the triple aim of faster, better and cheaper. It used to be said you could pick only two of these three, but what if you could have it all?
Take an example of cardiac care. My dad with angina pains needed angioplasty or a stent with a balloon to clear the blockage in his arteries. He had to be admitted in a specialty hospital for 3 days followed by 2 weeks of recovery at home. This was 20 years ago, compared to now when I’ve heard of similar patients getting out of the hospital within 24 hours and back to a regular routine in just a few days. This is a manifold reduction in hospital stay with faster recovery and lower bills with better quality hopefully.
As diagnostic imaging gets better the different types of machines also deliver improved quality. I remember earlier ultrasound images when we were expecting our kids not too long ago, looking like Casper the ghost wading in clouds. Now we have 3D image (from the latest Philips Ultrasound but of course) where you can literally see the unborn baby smile! So Ultrasound does what a CT could earlier, while a CT offers color images (from the latest Philips CT) and so on.
As more of us live longer we need better access to affordable healthcare. Imaging systems show us a possible path towards achieving this. Stay tuned on the what could be the possibilities in future posts or send me your suggestions as comments to this post.
PS. Some of you asked about expanding on MRI principles. I would recommend reading up on your own as I am no authority and rely on lots of free sources out there.