It is an immutable fact of life that the smallest changes can, and frequently do, prove to be the most influential. We have at our fingertips myriad examples of the ways in which the so-called butterfly effect can manifest in real life, beyond the scripts and drama of Hollywood.
The medical world is no exception. Globally, it represents what is (arguably) the most pivotal industry humans have given rise to – and, more so than ever before, we are all able to recognise quite how much of life-as-we-know-it depends upon its continued advancement, and the work of thousands of minds throughout history.
For that reason, here are a few examples of seemingly small changes which will no doubt prove transformative for the medical world.
Absorbable and Antibacterial Stitches
For many years now – since the mid twentieth century – medical institutions around the world have been experimenting with and, particularly in recent decades, utilising absorbable stitches – sutures that, rather than requiring removal, will simply be absorbed by the body once the wound has sufficiently healed.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (otherwise known as NICE), however, a new advancement could well prove to be far more effective – both for hospitals, and for patients.
Ethicon’s Plus Sutures are the world’s first absorbable stitches also equipped with antibacterial protection – thus offering a much stronger line of defense between patients and infection as their wound heels.
The result is anticipated to be incredibly positive. The NHS, for instance, stands to save more than £10 per patient.
A New Era for the Surgical Retractor
The surgical retractor is one of a number of tools which, in various iterations, has been a mainstay of the surgical tray throughout the history of modern medicine. Used for drawing soft tissue back from the site of incision, the retractor has now been transformed into something that promises a wider change within ORs around the world.
The team at June Medical are now pioneering a retractor that is capable not only of self-retaining (rather than requiring a surgical assistant to stand by and hold the retractor on behalf of the surgeon) but also of allowing for single-handed adjustments to be made by the surgeons themselves.
What this means is that, gradually, we can begin to decrease the number of additional personnel required in the OR – something that will no doubt be a priority in a post-Covid world – without inadvertently increasing the risk to the patient, or making the surgeon’s job more difficult.
The Rise of Telemedicine
Telemedicine has been on the rise since the outbreak of the new novel coronavirus back in the winter of 2019, when unanticipated changes to our way of life forced us to rethink even those most basic aspects of it.
In response, longstanding restrictions on medical professionals’ abilities to contact patients remotely were lifted, and consultations, check-ups and appointments were instead held with far greater frequency over video and voice calls.
Of course, many of us are planning to get back to normal as soon as restrictions can be amended once again – however, there is plenty to suggest that the addition of telemedicine has offered a great boon to patients who otherwise struggle – for various reasons – to make in-person appointments.
Time will, of course, tell whether or not remote appointments with doctors remain a common sight, but this small change could prove transformative for thousands of patients facing their own hurdles in getting medical help.