Good medical care comes from an evidence based approach and well trained staff. This applies to facial surgery as much as any discipline, yet adopting innovative technology is still vital to the field.
As popular as the image is, maxillofacial specialists are unlikely to be replaced by robots. What we are seeing is incredible imaging techniques and a scientific contribution to care we could not imagine a few years ago.
We should look to the future of facial surgery, where a number of developing fields will bring improved treatment.
Our world has changed more in the last 30 years than the previous 300. Computerisation and data analysis have been at the heart of this, leading to significant medical breakthroughs:
Improved Understanding Of DNA — Our ability to rapidly analyse and synthesise DNA is leading medicine. Amidst many opportunities, this is bringing better treatment for facial cancers.
3D Printing Technology — The name “printing” disguises a technique which could revolutionise the way we make everything. This already includes creating successfully transplanted organs and parts for facial reconstruction.
Artificial intelligence (AI) — Informed decisions come from experience and data. Neural network based AI systems process this with remarkable insight. Drug development benefits, also personalised diagnosis and treatment.
Immunotherapy (biologic therapy) — This restores and/or improves the immune system. Currently being used to treat a range of cancers and holds potential for finer targeting, along with treating other conditions.
Virtually Reality Environments — Having initially helped with surgical training, VR and robotic tools are now part of surgery. An ability to create a remarkable replica is also valuable in planning facial surgery.
There are other areas we could mention, from video relays, to using the web and social media to support patient health. Improved communication is in itself a bonus for the medical profession and those they treat.
The five areas we briefly picked out are still likely to lead the future. By what they can do and by the way they can combine, often led by AI.
Advances & Our Clinic
Artificial systems can beat humans at chess, the Chinese game of go, or many practical tasks. They are also reaching the point of being able to diagnose certain medical conditions more accurately than doctors.
Whilst they are far away from matching the knowledge of a maxillofacial surgeon, we should use their strengths. One of which is an ability to process and evaluate data at a rate way beyond humans.
Leading professionals can share anonymised data, in an environment where cyber security and confidentiality are preserved. One system already handles case details for 1.2 million people in North London.
Alongside adopting the latest technological equipment, data and AI systems are the future. Personal care from a leading consultant made more incisive, to help perfect treatment and incidentally, reduce cost.
Efficient approaches enable organisation, planning, patient monitoring. The £6 billion spent globally on healthcare can bring more, for the same spend.
Our clinicians and support staff constantly monitor developments, or are part of them. We will never lose the personal touch but in the area of facial surgery, looking to the future has always been valuable.
A couple of decades ago, doctors became able to share research, thoughts and new treatment techiques online. A now simple task, which saved vast numbers of lives. In our current and future world, just think what we can achieve.