As the world slowly emerges from the greatest pandemic in over a century, eyes and minds are turning to the future. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of health and medicine. Already advancements approach startlingly fast.
A decade ago, futurists and soothsayers predicted genome sequencing for as little as $1000. We reached that target only a few years ago, as sequencing costs dropped at over twice the rate of Moore’s law. Genome sequencing is now fast becoming the norm – companies already offer services to decode all your DNA, revealing hidden diseases, your genetic history, and what you should and shouldn’t be eating.
In the coming decade, sequencing costs will drop to $100 or less. But, that’s only one advancement amongst many. The best AI companies in healthcare are also working to develop proactive healthcare – where diseases are stopped before they even start.
It’s radical and revolutionary. But it’s only the beginning.
Smartphones and Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring may soon become a possibility using smartphones. In 2011, the first health smartphone applications became available, like the iBGStar glucometer and the ingenious AliveCor 2-Lead ECG invention. Now we’re up to 6-leads, monitoring heart electrical activity for atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and much more.
But in 2031, these early innovations will look crude compared to the precision medical solutions of wearable technology. Smartwatches will monitor blood oxygen levels, temperature, and location; sensors in our clothing will perform an ECG, while our headband monitors our brain’s electrical activity.
It’s not so much an Internet of Things, as an Internet of Medical Things – where all the data is collected and collated for critical insights into our health.
Predictions always assume technological progress is linear, like bricks being laid in a house, one by one. In reality, innovation comes in bursts, rapid advancements. According to Amara’s Law, we overestimate a technology’s importance in the earliest stages. Such predictions could be seen in the wake of IBM Watson’s Jeopardy victory in 2011 – AI is just around the corner, foretold the soothsayers.
However, in the long-term, we underestimate a technology’s revolutionary potential.
Google’s DeepMind and AlphaFold took a quantum leap when they demonstrated the ability to design proteins. Indeed, AI played a critical role in developing the mRNA Covid vaccine; and 2021 also saw the first AI-discovered drugs head into clinical trials.
The best AI companies in healthcare know what’s coming. Those that don’t engage early with AI drug discovery may rapidly find the traditional methods hopelessly outdated.
But AI in healthcare is more than pharmaceuticals.
Fusing big data analytics and real-time health metrics from wearable technology, AI will generate healthcare plans using the latest cutting-edge research. Doctors will review and tweak these recommendations at the bedside.
The coming decade’s innovation will be unlike anything before, from robot surgeons to wearable monitors. But it will be the synergy of medical technologies – in unforeseen and unknowable ways – that will truly revolutionize health and medicine.
What does the future hold for health and medicine? We’ll have to wait and see.
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