We live in an age of ever-advancing technology that pushes the boundaries of biology and healthcare. No department should get left behind. Including the chaotic rush of A&E.
Triage is a system through which provision of medical treatment is allocated to maximise the number of survivors in a situation where demand for treatment is higher than the hospital is able to provide (1). In practice, this means that patients are treated according to the severity and urgency of their injury or illness as opposed to a first come, first served-based system. Triage initially began as a method of maximising survivors of battlefield injuries, and as such is historically a largely trauma-based system. Changing healthcare landscapes and demands have prompted triage to evolve into an integrated multi-stage system in which all kinds of injuries and illnesses must be accommodated and sorted to allow urgent cases to be treated as quickly as possible (2).
Food deemed to be unsafe can contribute to a variety of diseases, from gastrointestinal issues to cancer. Food safety is a global public health concern, heavily impacting both developed and developing countries, it is vital to minimise contamination and associated outbreaks of disease. Therefore, the monitoring of food safety and the environment in which it is produced is crucial in maintaining a safe food production and supply process (1, 2).
Tracking one’s health and wellbeing has never been as easy as it is in the 21st century. In addition to the wealth of health-related information easily available on the internet, the evolution of portable and wearable technology has made it possible to track aspects of one’s wellbeing on the go. Sleep quality, stress levels, and heart rate are only some of the health indicators that widely available smart devices allow users to assess. Wearable wellbeing diagnostics are in high demand and the industry is experiencing rapid growth: the number of connected wearable devices worldwide more than doubled between 2016 and 2019 and is expected to surpass 1 billion in 2022 (1), while the market for wearable health sensors is predicted to grow by 10.5% between 2021 and 2026 (2).
Wellbeing diagnostic devices are tools that can assist in monitoring conditions such as health statistics, including heart rate and blood pressure. In recent years these have proven to be beneficial in diagnosing and managing health conditions in a remote environment. Wellbeing diagnostic devices have evolved rapidly in recent years due to how devices such as the smartphone have rapidly changed to adapt to a more modern lifestyle. The technology underlying these mechanisms in smartphones, mainly the embedded sensors, have advanced in terms of being able to be miniaturised, their energy requirements and sensitivity and the costs becoming more reasonable as their day-to-day use has increased (1).
Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) are caused by inadequate oxygen supply to the heart and can be fatal if not treated quickly after onset. Swift and accurate diagnosis is essential for patients with ACS to be identified quickly and provided with the best care possible (1). It is thus no surprise that research is continuously carried out to develop new and improved diagnostic tools and markers that would allow ACS cases to be detected with even greater accuracy, speed, and cost-efficiency than before. There is great interest in advancing the accuracy of point-of-care tests that would allow diagnostic testing to be carried out close to the patient as opposed to a central laboratory, leading to higher speed and reduced costs. Some improvements that have occurred in the diagnostics of ACS in recent years include highly sensitive cardiac troponin (cTn) tests, discoveries of new biomarkers of interest, and electrochemical biosensors as platforms for biomarker detection.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a condition that affects the heart and blood vessels. It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, responsible for over 17 million deaths: accounting for 32% of global deaths in 2019 (1). The “prevalence, high mortality and rehospitalisation rates” of CVD are all causes for further research into methods for early detection and diagnosis. Newer technologies will provide the patient with an improved prognosis and treatment plan whilst reducing the financial burden of the disease (2,3).
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are diseases that affect the heart and vasculature (see figure 1). They are the leading cause of death worldwide – according to the World Health Organization, 32% of deaths in 2019 were caused by CVDs (1). Some CVDs, grouped into Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS), are medical emergencies requiring urgent care. An example of an ACS is acute myocardial infarction, which is responsible for 10% of cases of chest pain in hospitalised patients (2) and may ultimately result in heart failure (3). In these cases, it is essential that the condition is diagnosed quickly and accurately to allow the patient to receive adequate treatment.
Autoimmune disease (AD) affects between 5-10% of the population, worldwide (1). A significant increase in antinuclear antibody prevalence from 11% to 16% has been observed in the last 25 years, however, it is unclear whether the rise is due to changes in diagnosis and reporting (2). The incidence of AD is estimated to increase by 3-9% per year.
Commonalities in generic symptoms between various AD and a lack of specific biomarkers for individual AD has made it difficult and complex to make definitive diagnoses; that in turn impacts patients life expectancy and quality (1). Early diagnosis is critical in determining the type of AD, the appropriate course of treatment and for the best prognosis and quality of life possible for the patient.
Dysfunction of the immune system can lead to autoimmune disease, in which the body’s defence systems target its own tissues. Over 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified to date and an estimated 5-8% of the world’s population suffers from an autoimmune disease (1), causing socioeconomic strain (2) and arousing an urgent need for prompt detection and treatment of these diseases.