Healthcare evolves alongside technology. With technology comes new ways to diagnose, treat, and manage various diseases to improve patients’ quality of life. Bioelectric medicine is just one of the more modern uses of technology in the healthcare industry, but there are still several challenges it faces. However, this category encompasses medical devices and an approach to detecting and treating diseases. So let’s discuss a little more about what bioelectronic medicine is and how it’s shaping the future of healthcare.
What is Bioelectronic Medicine?
Bioelectronic medicine is a fairly new type of medicine that aims to treat disease using electrical pulses instead of medications. The electrical pulses trigger responses in the body and can be an alternative to different medical procedures and treatments. Bioelectronic medicine combines bioengineering, immunology, and neuroscience to fight disease, and it’s a diverse category with subfields to treat different health conditions.
Bioelectronic medicine is similar to drug therapy because it’s used to treat disease. For example, bioelectronic devices can trigger the release of neurotransmitters to improve pain symptoms. It can also help treat issues like essential tremors. Since bioelectronic medicine encompasses many different sub-categories, the triggering method varies. However, all devices stimulate, block, or regulate different electrical signals in the body to manage and treat disease.
How Does It Work?
Bioelectronic medicine and devices work by using short bursts of electrical energy to produce a response in the body for a set period, such as hours or days. It can be used to treat a variety of illnesses, including:
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
- Headaches and migraines
- And more
Unfortunately, it’s not recommended for individuals with pacemakers or those that are pregnant, but it can be an effective treatment for many people by providing pain relief and control.
How is Bioelectronic Medicine Shaping the Future of Healthcare?
Bioelectronic medicine improves outcomes for patients in many ways, but the field is still rapidly expanding. The main way bioelectronic medicine is changing the healthcare industry is by replacing drugs and limiting certain side effects.
Alternative to Drugs
Bioelectronic medicine can be used in conjunction with pain medication, but it can also be used alone on some patients to reduce the need for drugs. Since medications come with potentially dangerous side effects and can be addictive, replacing them with devices can improve patient outcomes and help those suffering from pain disorders feel better, ultimately improving their quality of life.
Bioelectronic medicine has less severe side effects, which may include skin irritation and redness under electrodes during therapy. However, those side effects are much less severe than the side effects of medications that can make patients feel tired, irritable, or even sick.
In addition, because bioelectronic medicine uses devices to read the electrical activity within the body, healthcare professionals can have access to real-time diagnostics and treatment options. Real-time diagnostics is something the medical industry has struggled with.
Everyone sees the benefits of being able to look at what’s happening with a patient in real time, but there have been many challenges that prevent physicians from being able to get the information they need to make better choices regarding treatment. When physicians can look at a patient’s diagnostics in real-time, they can make the decision to change treatment faster, which can improve a patient’s prognosis and help them feel better faster.
Ultimately, allowing doctors to make real-time decisions can improve a patient’s prognosis. However, bioelectronic devices may serve as a way for patients to get the care they need without worrying about drugs affecting their lives. Drugs can improve conditions but make patients feel worse, even though their pain or tremors are improved. However, bioelectronic medicine can provide the same benefits as drugs without any of the disadvantages or risks, ultimately improving prognoses for many patients.
Reduce Strain on Healthcare Services
Individuals that require drugs must typically see their physician multiple times a year because they likely suffer from chronic health issues. While doctors are happy to see their patients, this puts a serious strain on the healthcare industry. Of course, other technologies, such as telehealth, reduce this strain, but doctors must still meet with patients to discuss changes in treatment based on information they receive from the patient.
Bioelectronic medicine can reduce the strain on healthcare services by providing doctors with the information they need without scheduling multiple appointments with patients. Through their devices, doctors can learn everything they need to know about a patient’s condition to make adjustments to their therapy.
Unfortunately, the field of bioelectronic medicine is still new, and there are many challenges scientists and doctors face. Companies face the same issues as those in the drug industry, including securing funding. In addition, the lack of historical data for new mechanisms makes it difficult for physicians to experiment with bioelectronic medicine on patients already on drugs.
Ultimately, bioelectronic medicine is a new field, and there will always be challenges when forging a new field, especially when it comes to managing surgeries and determining the location for implantation, device type, device size, and battery life. In addition, regulatory requirements are still evolving with new therapies, so they’re largely unclear for doctors and patients.
Bioelectronic medicine is a fast-growing industry, with more medical devices coming out every year, so the market is expected to grow as a rise in research continues. By treating conditions where there is a need, technology can continue to evolve and help treat many different types of acute and chronic issues, including circulatory conditions, to improve the lives of millions of patients.
There are many effective drugs available for patients, but those with debilitating diseases may not respond to these types of treatments. In addition, these treatments come with side effects that can impact how a patient feels. Bioelectronic medicine offers an alternative solution with fewer side effects that can improve the quality of life when traditional treatments do not. Of course, bioelectronic medicine will not replace traditional healthcare, but it can be great alternative therapy and serve as another tool for doctors treating patients.