This is one of six articles in the Business of Health Care series.
When it comes to technology that makes our lives better — from computers to cell phones — the trend has been smaller, faster, better. When it comes to next generation medical procedures being rolled out nationwide, that trend has largely been mirrored.
Procedures that once took hours, now may take only minutes. And procedures that once involved long, unsightly incisions are now being conducted with tiny tools that may only require an incision the size of a razor nick
Perhaps nowhere have these advancements been more pronounced than in heart care and orthopedic medicine. Take, for example, procedures to repair or replace damaged valves in the heart. Ten years ago, these procedures often involved major invasive surgery, a week or more in the hospital and months of recovery.
Today, many of the nation’s leading heart programs — including right here in Texas — offer solutions for certain valve problems that are so minimally invasive, qualified patients can leave the hospital in a little as one day and be fully recovered within a matter of weeks.
Similarly, major orthopedic procedures, particularly in the field of joint replacement, have come a long way since the turn of the century. Advances in pre-procedure imaging, artificial devices and operational technique have led to artificial hips and knees that feel as good as the original with a fraction of the recovery time.
These, and many other, innovative procedures are creating better outcomes and giving more patients the opportunity to improve their quality of life. And that’s a trend that never goes out of style.
This report, and other episodes, are available at KWBU.org.