Smart sensors and artificial intelligence could make medicine more effective and cheaper – but understanding the direction of progress will be key to taking advantages of the coming revolution
In the past, medicine was about pills and procedures. Today, it’s likely to involve data and software. The healthcare regulator, the food and drug administration, has approved 13 algorithms for medical use, including disease-diagnosing imaging programs.
Data is “fueling the emergence of new business models”, Healthcare is no exception. Free-flowing, connected data will underpin a host of health services.
CONNECT, COMBINE AND SHARE THE WELLNESS DATA
Medical data is a sensitive subject – companies want to build tools based on patient information, patients are concerned about privacy. Healthcare records are often disparate and disconnected, held in different computer systems and subject to varying regulations and cultural approaches. But patient data is too valuable to be kept in isolation.
NANOMEDICINE, SENSORS AND AI WILL DRIVE INNOVATION
Today, it’s cameras, GPS trackers and heart-rate monitors. Tomorrow it would be smart contact lenses, implantable chips and sensor-embedded clothing. Beyond that, nanotechnology could bring “smart dust” that will continuously monitor our vital signs, while nanorobots remove bacteria from the bloodstream with ultrasound. Instead of an annual check-up at the doctors, our health will be constantly monitored, wherever we happen to be.
HEALTH’S DIGITAL BACKBONE IS EMERGING, BUT THERE AREN’T CLEAR OWNERS
As the amount and quality of medical data grows, a digital backbone that can join information from varying sources will develop. Right now, it’s small, niche firms, but longer term, we believe that companies more versed in big data will step in. Tech giants are already throwing their weight behind healthcare platforms, and will work closely with payers and providers to help build key platforms.
PATIENTS WILL DEMAND TO BE TREATED LIKE CUSTOMERS
Patients would love to interact with their physician digitally, and many of the patients have an activity tracker. Patients are willing to share that data if they see the benefits.
COMPANIES WILL HAVE TO SPECIALISE TO SUCCEED
Data collection will be more integrated, but high costs and the need for data expertise will force companies to specialise, while a data driven landscape will create further shifts in business models. The future will be less about supplying innovation, and more about innovating to answer demand.