What Is the Future of Medicine & Health Technologies in 25 Years?

What Is the Future of Medicine & Health Technologies in 25 Years?

Universal health coverage in the U.S.

  • Nearly 92 percent of the population was estimated to have coverage in 2018, leaving 27.5 million people, or 8.5 percent of the population, uninsured. Medicare ensures a universal right to health care for persons age 65 and older.
  • Ensuring that all people in the United States have affordable health care coverage that provides a defined set of essential health benefits (EHB) is necessary in order to move toward a healthier and more productive society.

Patient empowerment due to the tech revolution

  • From the patients’ side, the advancement of technology is the result of the ‘e-patient’ – where the ‘e’ stands for ‘electronic, empowered or engaged. 
  • A patient who takes responsibility for their health, and actively engages in shaping their future. This can possibly lead to an equal level partnership between physicians and patients with shared decision-making and the democratization of care.

Brain-computer interfaces bring hope for the paralyzed

  • Imagine creating a Brain-computer interface (BCI) like a retinal chip giving you perfect eyesight or the ability to see in the dark, a cochlear implant granting you perfect hearing, or a memory chip bestowing you with almost limitless memory. What if you could type into a computer with only your thoughts or control your entire smart house by sending out the necessary brainwaves?
  • The first neuroprosthetics is already on the market: you can purchase cochlear implants, and retinal implants – the latter was approved by the FDA in 2013. Moreover, implants for people with Parkinson’s disease send electrical pulses deep into the brain, activating some of the pathways involved in motor control. 

3D printing drugs

  • If the entire house can be 3D printed, why wouldn’t 3D printed drugs be a surprise? In 2015 University of College of London experimented with 3D printing drugs in odd shapes; such as dinosaurs or octopuses, in order to make it easier for kids to take pills. 
  • In August 2015, the FDA approved an epilepsy drug called Spritam that is made by 3D printers. It prints out the powdered drug layer by layer to make it dissolve faster than average pills. 

Do new technologies potentially bring new diseases?

  • New types of diseases might appear due to the excessive use of virtual reality solutions, video consoles or smartphones. Examples include virtual post-traumatic stress disorder (v-PTSD), which might be the diagnosis for gamers who participate in large virtual battles wearing VR masks (such as Call of Duty) and experience similar symptoms as those soldiers who fought in real wars.
  • Video-game epilepsy has been well documented, where games provoke a higher likelihood of seizures vs standard television programs.

Artificial food will bring hope against food shortages?

  • Researchers of the Cultured Beef Project remove muscle cells from the shoulder of a cow and feed the cells with a nutrient mix in a Petri dish, and then they grow into muscle tissue. From a few starter cells, one can derive tons of meat. 
  • Bill Gates advocated for citizens of the richest countries in the world to switch to diets consisting entirely of what he called synthetic meat in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Total U.S Greenhouse Gas Emissions by economic sector in 2019
    • Transportation (29%) – Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum-based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel.
    • Electricity production (25%) – Approximately 62 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.
    • Industry (23%) – Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.
    • Commercial and residential (13%) – Greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and homes arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.
    • Agriculture (10%) – Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.
  • Emission trend – In 2019, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased compared to 2018 levels.

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions#:~:text=Agriculture%20(10%20percent%20of%202019,agricultural%20soils%2C%20and%20rice%20production.

The merger of wearable manufacturers and health insurance companies

  • In November 2017, Qualcomm and United Healthcare announced that they have integrated Samsung and Garmin wearables into their national wellness program. It enables eligible plan participants to earn more than $1,000 per year by meeting daily walking goals. 
  • Could this motivate people into desired behavior such as a healthy way of life? Could this increase premiums for high-risk patients or to reduce their business risks by alerting patients about bad lifestyle choices? What will happen to the patients’ private data? Should we prepare for Dr. Big Brother? How will the relationship between employers, employees, and health insurance companies change in the light of easily obtainable personal fitness and health data? 

John Nkengasong

Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Population-wise, Africa is the continent of the future. By 2050, it is estimated that its population will be 2.5 billion people. This means that one in every four persons in the world might be an African, with rapidly growing economies and a rising middle class.
  • Precision medicine will need to take center stage in a new public health order—whereby a more precise and targeted approach to screening, diagnosis, treatment, and, potentially, the cure is based on each patient’s unique genetic and biological make-up.
  • Based on the Africans Union’s Agenda 2063, goals include national strategies to improve healthcare—including genomic data policy—and increase diagnostic capacity, and the creation of biobanks, such as H3Africa, that encompass both physical and bioinformatics facilities.

Is it possible for Amazon to run the world’s largest HMO?

HMO stands for health maintenance organization. HMOs have their own network of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers who have agreed to accept payment at a certain level for any services they provide. This allows the HMO to keep costs in check for its members.

  • Amazon has confirmed that the services will be available nationwide starting the summer of 2021. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the service would be delivered through Care Medical, an independent private medical practice consisting of licensed clinicians with whom Amazon has contracted as Amazon Care’s clinical team.
  • This is the first time a big tech firm will be directly in the healthcare services business. Will it be another failed experiment or the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for?
  • Amazon care addresses two major emerging trends in healthcare delivery: telehealth and home-based care.
  • The future of healthcare in-home care and mobile care nurse
  • They can offer in-person treatments, exams, and medicine 
  • Delivering prescriptions 

 

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