What’s Next?

above: Medical technology is critical to procedures, and advances open doors to treatments.

As the digital revolution continues to transform virtually every aspect of our social lives, A.I.-assisted technology is having a significant impact on hospitals and healthcare systems throughout Fairfield County.

Since the onset of the pandemic, telemedicine and remote everything—from doctor’s office visits and video consultations with specialists to medical evaluations, diagnoses and treatment—have increased patient access to healthcare providers locally.

To explore the latest hardware, software programs and services, we turned to three prominent healthcare providers in our area.


COGNITIVE CARE

Nuvance Health

The millions of Baby Boomers now in their seventies have ramped up the need for cognitive care as more exhibit signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia and other issues around memory, thinking and language. To date, no medications have been approved to treat MCI.

In October, Nuvance Health became one of the first health systems in the U.S. to pilot Neuroglee Connect, a remote monitoring technology for patients with MCI. Taking a cue from current guidelines about the benefit of regular brain stimulation and healthy lifestyle habits, staff at Nuvance’s Neuroscience Institute use the technology to provide brain-stimulating activities to patients through its iPads, then measure performance and identify signs of cognitive deterioration.

“Nuvance Health has embraced a range of technological solutions to continue providing the best care possible for our patients,” says Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Albert Villarin. “We are constantly innovating cutting-edge care in all of our hospitals.”

The biplane angiography system, a high-tech system —unveiled at Norwalk Hospital—helps care for neuro and heart patients.

ESOPHAGEAL CANCER SCREENING

Stamford Health’s Heartburn, Reflux and Esophageal Specialty Center

In September 2022, Stamford Health’s Heartburn, Reflux and Esophageal Specialty Center introduced a noninvasive early- screening procedure for esophageal cancer, the fastest-growing cancer diagnosis in the U.S. Traditionally, the only screening for the cancer has been with an endoscopy, a thirty-minute procedure that requires anesthesia and still can be uncomfortable.

Called EsoGuard, the technology can identify precancerous cells in a process that takes two minutes and is performed in an office visit. The screening is important because over-the-counter medications for heartburn and acid reflux—common preconditions for esophageal issues—can disguise cancer.

Dr. Michael Ebright, thoracic surgeon and director of the Esophageal Center, notes: “This new screening technology will expand access for potentially lifesaving early screening for patients.”

Stamford Health
A doctor at Stamford Health explains how the EsoGuard device works to a patient.

ROBOTIC ASSISTANCE

Bridgeport Hospital / Yale New Haven Health

At Bridgeport Hospital, part of the Yale New Haven Health system, A.I.-guided TUG robots are helping address the current shortage of nurses by carrying out routine administrative tasks, such as transporting specimens from the lab and monitoring patients. The robots are freeing health-care professionals to attend to patients.

“The care we provide requires emotional impact and the human touch, neither of which can ever be replaced by technology,” says Anne Diamond, president of the hospital. But, she adds, “one of the benefits of A.I. is that these new tools and technology will allow us to spend more time with our patients, providing the care that is critical to their well-being and healing.”

Elsewhere in the Yale New Haven Health system, robotic-arm technologies are enabling surgeons to perform joint replacements with more accuracy and precision. For patients, this means smaller incisions, increased saving of healthy tissue, minimal scarring and faster recovery time.

Such innovations are improving care locally as well as providing a glimpse of the future of healthcare in America.

The entrance to Bridgeport Hospital
A TUG robot, which can pick up administrative tasks around the hospital.

Photographs: Cover Damian/stock.adobe.com; contributed

 

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