In a recent meeting with one the most dynamic business tycoon, I met in a decade, asked me: What do you think about the possibility that robots will take over the jobs of nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals? OR Artificial intelligence will control the world within a couple of years?
I answered that my honest belief is that the only way forward is to move hand in hand with the technology. These are all half-truths, alternative facts about the future of healthcare, since all have one thing in common: Technologies are made by humans and trained by humans, since everything is evolving people from industry would still be needed but more towards the approach of experimental science and research. The fear about the unknown place called future and what it might bring upon us is always there as we cannot promise our kids what to study to stay relevant in the industry upon graduation. No matter how scary the future might seem at the moment, we cannot stop technological development; and sooner or later we will find out that whole areas of our lives have been transformed through various digital technologies. Thus, our task at the moment is to face our fears about the future with courage; to turn to technologies with an open mind and to prepare for the changing world with as much knowledge as possible.
Technology can only aid and improve our lives if we stand on its shoulder and if we are always (at least) two steps ahead of it. But if we adhere to this rule, the cooperation between people and technology could result in amazing achievements.
In medicine and healthcare, digital technology could help transform unsustainable healthcare systems into sustainable ones, equalize the relationship between medical professionals and patients, provide cheaper, faster and more effective solutions for diseases – technologies could win the battle for us against cancer, AIDS or Ebola – and could simply lead to healthier individuals living in healthier communities.
Guide to the future of medicine lies in the hand of Data Scientists (Artificial intelligence)
I believe that artificial intelligence has the potential to redesign healthcare completely. AI algorithms are able to mine medical records, design treatment plans or create drugs way faster than any current actor on the healthcare palette including any medical professional.
Atomwise uses supercomputers that root out therapies from a database of molecular structures. In 2015, the start-up launched a virtual search for safe, existing medicines that could be redesigned to treat the Ebola virus. They found two drugs predicted by the company’s AI technology which may significantly reduce Ebola infectivity.
More recently, Google’s DeepMind created an A.I. for breast cancer analysis. The algorithm outperformed all human radiologists on pre-selected data sets to identify breast cancer, on average by 11.5%!
These are only two of the many examples of companies using A.I. to advance healthcare from designing new drugs to disrupting medical imaging to mining medical records. With all these tangible examples, imagine what horizons would open for humanity if early utilization of AI results in such amazing discoveries!
Few remarkable areas where Technology is changing the future:
3D-printing can bring wonders in all aspects of healthcare. We can now print biotissues, artificial limbs, pills, blood vessels and the list goes on and will likely keep on doing so.
In November 2019, researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, developed a method to 3D-print living skin along with blood vessels. This development proves crucial for skin grafts for burn victims. Also, helping patients in need are NGOs like Refugee Open Ware and Not Impossible which 3D-print prosthetics for refugees from war-torn areas.
The pharmaceutical industry is also benefiting from this technology. FDA-approved 3D-printed drugs have been a reality since 2015 and researchers are now working on 3D-printing “polypills”. These contain several layers of drugs so as to help patients adhere to their therapeutic plan.