In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the world has looked to 3D printing to provide fast and reliable solutions. However, 3D printing can support communities with much more than just these quick fixes, it also has the ability to develop solutions that can have a hand in improving healthcare for years to come.
The adoption of 3D printing by hospitals and clinics continues to grow at a rapid pace with 2019 being no exception. As the technology becomes more accessible and the benefits to physicians and patients is further appreciated, more hospitals are choosing to invest resources in 3D printing infrastructure as an enabler of personalized healthcare.
COVID-19 has placed a significant burden on healthcare systems around the globe that are straining to handle the volumes of ill patients requiring life-saving treatment. The shift in clinical priorities in response to the pandemic provides the opportunity for 3D-printing resources at the Point-of-Care, including software, equipment, and skilled personnel, to be used in other ways.
The advantages offered by surgical planning tools and personalized guides and implants are applicable to a vast variety of surgical treatments. Some of these benefits have already been raised by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) program in the UK.
3D technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and 3D printing provide doctors with more information than they can see with 3D images on 2D displays, making the tools valuable in surgical planning at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).
When it comes to designing personalized medical devices such as hip implants, cranial plates, or surgical guides, the possibilities offered by 3D printing are virtually limitless. In practice, designing a personalized device is easier said than done.
Easily collaborating between teams across the hospital system, better surgical results and achieving true informed consent with patients are just three reasons why Nemours Children’s Hospital uses an in-house 3D printing service.
Virtual patients have been gaining attention in recent years as a way to augment pre-clinical tests and even clinical trials. While for many applications the concept is still in its infancy, the use of virtual patients has become standard practice in the development process of orthopedic implants.