Disrupted Health – Long 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 will be the long-term trends in healthcare.

1. Medical decisions via artificial intelligence (AI)

With virtual computer networks working together on a particular problem, Big Data is becoming Huge Data. Healthcare is a prime candidate for making intelligent use of that data.  With new, relevant medical research being produced so quickly, it’s impossible for a human to be up-to-date constantly. But a super-computer, such as IBM Watson, could be, even to the extent of advising a physician on medical decisions. AI will offer many benefits, including generating insights for lowering costs and creating better outcomes.

2. Growing Organs

Regenerative medicine seeks to help those who suffer from organ failure or loss by providing them with artificially created replacement organs. 3D printers have already successfully produced organs, and stem cells can also be used to grow some organs.

3. Future Food

With instant content analysis, we will know exactly what we are eating and, hopefully, that will teach us how to eat properly. Fast food will be defined by more than the local McDonalds, Wendy’s, or Burger King, as 3D printing begins to produce a variety of nutritional options. This will become a norm to satisfy the ever-increasing population.

4. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

Augmented reality through technology such as Google Glass will be increasingly streamlined into healthcare. Currently, a surgeon can stream a live surgery procedure in order to create an enhanced learning tool for students who would typically have had to watch over the doctor’s shoulder. In the future, virtual reality will create environments that allow patients, for example, to recover more quickly from major operations or adapt their lifestyle to prevent future disease.

5. Eliminating Animal and Human Experimentation

Computational cognitive architecture will simulate how human physiology works, detail-by-detail. Virtual experimentation through this kind of simulation could test numerous samples on virtual patients in an extremely short time period. Technology developments, such as the organ-on-a-chip, allow simulation of the activities, mechanics, and physiology of entire organs and organ systems.

6. Nanorobots

These microscopic robots will measure health parameters and diagnose disease. They could also expand our knowledge of biology and anatomy, improve how we deliver drugs, or perform extremely localized surgery. The nanorobots could eventually develop a network, communicate with each other, identify health concerns, and automatically take corrective action.

8. Cyborgs

There will be a new generation of people who choose to live with technology inside their bodies. Cyborgs will initially be controversial, but it will be increasingly difficult to refrain from the opportunity to augment and/or correct human capabilities.

9. Longevity

Google’s CEO Larry Page implied that dramatically extending human life is one of Calico’s main goals; not making people immortal per se, but, according to a source familiar with the project, increasing the lifespan of people born 20 years ago by as much as 100 years. Scientists may have discovered a way to reboot tissue regeneration through their stem cell research.

As technology advances take over more diagnosis and treatment, we are likely to see machines do more of the analysis while humans will take a more interpersonal role. Medical education will need to address the integration of new technologies quickly and efficiently. We will all have to adapt to this new kind of healthcare. It will be an exciting time of human achievement, mixed with numerous and difficult ethical issues. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

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.

IBM Watson human cyborg regenerative ear