TED Conversations

Alison Acevedo

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How can we better harness our human capabilities to develop medical technology?

In my bioelectricity class taught by TED fellow Nina Tandon, we've discussed the difficulties of diagnosing patients using the results of diagnostic tests like EKGs & EEGs. Diagnosis following these examinations require doctors with extensive experience correlating signal patterns with disease. Interpreting non-invasive diagnostic tests is one of many challenges requiring lifelong dedication to one facet of the medical field.
In light of this, Daniel Kraft's talk about the future of medical tech. is interesting. He highlights technologies that allow doctors to visit patients virtually and robots that allow doctors to work remotely. Exponential technologies, Kraft quotes, 'surpass the ability of the human mind.' Their development is a worthwhile application of human time and innovation.
We also learned about Catherine Wong (http://tinyurl.com/8pjbxwq) an inventor developing an inexpensive, portable EKG device that transmits data via cell phone. She discusses the reality that 2 billion people today have no access to local healthcare. These underdeveloped regions don't have the funds or equipment for remote access health care. Kraft discusses the application of the lab-chip for humanitarian aide, but charitable outreach is more Catherine's focus.
Despite the enormous promise of exponential technology lowering costs for global healthcare, access to diagnostic tools is not the only issue today in medicine. Noel Merz discusses how cardiovascular disease goes unnoticed in women but is their leading killer. While men's heart attack onset symptoms are obvious, esp. in their EKGs, women's symptoms are subtle, requiring MRI's to detect. A greater fraction of women die than fraction of men.
These ideas made me question the continuing value of human insight when developing and disseminating technologies, and the assumptions (and biases) that influence what to develop. Development is a human process. How can we better harness our human capabilities to develop medical technology?


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  • Apr 9 2013: Develop a tablet program that cross checks medicine interaction and existing conditions for nursing homes have that a long with daily info. oh and do it affordably.

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