Disrupted Health – 10 Near Term Trends in Healthcare

Those of you who have read our book and/or follow our Disrupted Health blog, will be aware that enormous technological changes in medicine and healthcare will have an impact on all stakeholders: patients, medical professionals, researchers, and consumers. We believe that it is important to understand the impact they are likely to have on all of us in the near future.

In this article, we nominate what we believe are the 10 near term trends in healthcare. Each one is a concept already underway today!

1. Empowered Patients

Healthcare is moving beyond the hospital, and shifting towards patient self-knowledge and empowerment. The internet and Dr Google has led to many people researching their symptoms and diagnosing and treating themselves. To maximise the value of this knowledge, healthcare professionals will need to embrace the change and guide patients in participating in their own care. New technologies will finally help medical professionals to focus more on the patient as a human being instead of spending time hunting down relevant information.

Combining fun and games into healthcare apps can motivate the patient and collect data needed to make informed decisions on daily activities that contribute to one’s health. Better understanding of our health and the contributing factors will help each one of us take the right action to prevent the onset of diseases.

2. Telemedicine

Home healthcare services and innovative technology will allow for doctor-patient connectivity where it had not been previously possible, saving both lives and money. For example, patients in the rural areas of low income economies who currently have no access to healthcare specialists will be able to access it at very little cost in the near future. In addition, patient monitoring before, during, and after a procedure can now include autonomous robots and devices.

3. Medical Curriculum Overhaul

Medical schools need to prepare future physicians for a world full of e-patients and dazzling technology. It takes many years to go from studying to practicing medicine. During that time, what students are learning is constantly changing in the real world. The old-fashioned textbook is a static learning piece in a dynamic professional field with integrated, innovative technology. Digital classrooms will create new connections between students and healthcare professionals and allow for access to the most current information and resources.

4. Surgical Robots

Robotic-assisted surgery enhances the skill of the surgeon and allows for less invasive procedures. Advanced robots will be able to perform an operation from continents away, with precision beyond what a surgeon’s hand can do. Robots may never fully take over a surgical room due to their weak versatility and adaptability compared to humans, but they will become much more integrated into surgical teams.

5. Personalised Medicine

As DNA analysis becomes standard when diagnosing a disease or prescribing medicine or treatment, medicine will increasingly become personalized and optimized for that particular patient’s metabolic background. This is probably one of the most exciting technological advances in medicine.

6. Body Sensors

Technology is allowing us to measure critical health parameters in convenient and inexpensive ways. We will all increasingly be adopting tiny wearable sensors, which collect data without interfering with our everyday lives in order to help us make better, more informed and quantifiable decisions. Electronic clothing paired with sensors are already making a significant difference in professional sport.

7. Medical Tricorders

The fictional medical tricorder from Star Trek is soon to be a reality. Diagnostic procedures are shifting towards devices that are portable and can be used at home.  Medical mobile applications will be prescribed with patient customization. The smartphone will play a major role in medicine, serving as a health-medical dashboard.

8. DIY Biotechnology

Cheaper technology and a DIY spirit is creating a new generation of scientists and engineers who see no limitations in research. Community biology labs are popping up around the world, connecting inventors, amateurs, and anyone who is curious to experiment with equipment and education. The resulting innovation from lowering the cost of medical research has the potential for disruptive solutions that will further change the way in which medicine is practiced.

9. 3D Printing

3D printers can manufacture medical equipment, prostheses, or even drugs. They will also play a vital role in regenerative medicine by creating tissues with blood vessels, bone, heart valves, ear cartilage, synthetic skin, and even organs. With its increasing affordability and open source engineering, the applications for 3D printing in healthcare will be be incredibly vast and beneficial.

10. Exoskeletons and prosthetics

Exoskeleton suits have enabled partially-paralyzed individuals to walk again. Increasing the precision of motor control and recreating natural sensation will eventually create real-time communication between the prosthetic and the brain.

Technology and medical science advances are disrupting healthcare as we know it. Our book called iDisrupted gives greater insight into the breadth and depth of technology disruption in healthcare and other aspects of our lives. iDisrupted is available on Amazon now.

3D printed skull Genomic map Star Trek tricorder