Page 6 - MEH_Supplement_Nov-Dec_2012

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phered, the Human Genome Project
promised
to
transform
medicine,
predicting and preventing all that ails us.
The project spawned next-generation
technologies, accelerated the develop-
ment of bioinformatics and shaped new
perspectives on research.
Now, whole-genome sequencing has
begun moving into the clinic, sleuthing
out problems, offering hope for a medicine
that’s more effective and more personal.
Whole-genome sequencing is providing
biochemical insights for numerous
diseases with the aim of improving the
treatment of individuals.
An increasing number of people are
embracing genomic analysis – many of
them with rare diseases, but others simply in
the hope of advancing science. As costs of
genome sequencing fall, we may have the
opportunity to focus on how to handle,
interpret and communicate to patients
about this vital flood of information.
Getting better information doesn’t stop at
our DNA. Now more than ever, we are able
to find tell-tale signs of diseases earlier. For
instance, urinary biomarkers help doctors
detect acute kidney disease and injury in
children. Urologists can now non-invasively
check proteins in the urine to indicate
certain types of kidney disease – a process
that has only recently been developed.
Doctors are also able to get crucial, life-
4
| M I D D L E E A S T H E A L T H
Healthcare for Children
saving health information about unborn
babies, and intervene before birth.
Pregnant mothers are now able to detect
foetal abnormalities earlier, in some cases
allowing them the option to treat their
babies in utero by combining adult (for
the mother) and pediatric (for the foetus)
care simultaneously. Improving proce-
dures and detecting the need for foetal
intervention have helped propel the care
for unborn babies with abnormalities, who
had lacked treatment in the past.
Innovations in pediatric care all boil
down to one thing: information. What kind
of information doctors have, how early they
can get it, what they are able to do with it
and who else they can share it with all help
advance the treatment and delivery of care
for children, both locally and globally.
homebound children are too ill to attend
class in person and use robots as their proxy.
Reports show that these children are able to
experience school as if they were there.
When given a more traditional program on
a desktop computer, they were less engaged
and felt like they were “looking in” rather
than being in the classroom. More impor-
tantly, when a physical robot was among
other children in the classroom, classmates
treated the homebound child as if he or she
were really there.
Furthermore, these robots will continue
to evolve. Their platform is upgradeable
and reusable, and robots can be modified so
that they will have not just “eyes” and
“legs”, but also “hands” to measure vital
signs, to sense heat and pressure through
touch, and to perform simple blood, urine
and respiratory evaluations. Eventually, a
“brain” may be added to teach patients
about their disease process and help them
solve basic health problems independently.
In the future, the robot could help the
family recognize what is expected and not
expected after surgery, engaging them in
their health care and reassuring them. If
an unexpected problem arises, the robotic
system could contact the doctor and
transmit information to aid the diagnosis.
Finally, dedicated robotic systems can
go home with any patient who has an
electrical outlet – no home WiFi,
computer or technical sophistication is
necessary. The system operates on a 4G
network, making a uniform standard of
care available to all patients, regardless of
their financial status.
Computers were once large, expensive
and of use to just a limited few, but now
are an essential and accepted part of our
daily lives. Perhaps in the future, robotic
systems will become equally essential in
medicine, allowing healthcare providers
to be more time- and cost-efficient while
delivering high quality care to patients.
Better information, better treatments
Just as the sharing of information creates
better care, the type and timeliness of
information can have a similarly signifi-
cant impact. Information gleaned from
patient’s bodies and diagnostic testing
helps accelerate care and bring it to new
levels of treatment.
For example, with the genome deci-
Recently, robots have
helped children make
transitions as they leave
the hospital and move
to their home
environments, where
they can recover in
familiar and comfortable
surroundings.