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Posts from the ‘Future’ Category

Fight Stress Successfully With Technology: Free Guide and Giveaway!

Stress is such a central part of our modern life that we sometimes take it for granted. But it’s also one of our most unhealthy habits. Work, money, insufficient sleep, relationships, even driving in thick traffic have been shown to increase it. Unsurprisingly, roughly 3 of 4 people experience stress-related negative physical and psychological symptoms.

As I’ve battled stress myself, I wanted to help, and put together a Guide to Managing Stress with Technology. The great team behind Pip, the personal stress manager, has agreed to award a device to a lucky person who downloads the Guide. I’m also giving away 10 copies of my latest book, My Health: Upgraded, which helps improve not just stress management, but other areas of your health with technology.


How technology helped me manage stress

I’ve been quantifying my health since 1997. Through this, I have learnt that stress impacts me the same way it does others – it reduces the level of my focus, leads to bad sleep quality and decreases my emotional well-being. Based on this data, I realized I need to develop personal methods for reducing stress, as giving over 50 keynotes a year, as well as writing and consulting, stress was threatening my health.

First things first, I had to identify the things that make me more stressed, as well as the activities and thoughts that help me reduce anxiety. Then came designing a strategy that helps me pursue my lifetime goals without inducing undue stress. Looking back, managing stress proactively might have been one the best decisions in my life.


I have been giving simple scores between one and ten to my mental, physical and emotional well-being every single day for years. Using a spreadsheet to track when I was stressed out, I was able to realize when it impacted my life – something that’s easy to miss amid the rush of work, family and social activities. When I purchased the Pip device to actually measure my stress levels, I gained even better understanding of stress in my life, and what activities increased or decreased its levels.

For example, I’ve been playing Lumosity to improve my cognitive skills, but what surprised me was how effectively playing just 10-15 minutes reduced my stress levels. I’ve been using music from to work productively, and it turned out my stress level also decreases while listening to its tunes. Realizing that playing football decreased stress levels not during and right after the game, but for another 24 hours convinced me to indulge more in the sport. I’ve included more of the things I’ve learned in the Guide to Master Stress.

The Pip, a device to master stress relief

A few months ago, I started using PIP, a tiny device that was designed to give immediate feedback about my stress levels. Its smartphone app also helps learn how to reduce stress by showing me a winter image which I need to transform into summer by being relaxed. I hold it between the thumb and index fingers to measure skin conductivity for a few minutes and I know I dedicate time to having a less stressed life.


The longer I can keep my stress low, the faster the scene changes. The task takes me about 15 minutes, while my wife does it in about 4 minutes. Of course it stresses me to think about how much more stressed I am than my wife, at least according to the device. But I am working on it.

If you’re one of the billions of people battling stress daily, make sure to get the Guide to Mastering Stress With Technology, and get a chance to win the Pip device and one of the 10 copies of My Health: Upgraded!


Paralyzed People Walk Again: A Dutch story

When I saw Amanda Boxtel standing up from her wheelchair and walking around with an exoskeleton around her body, the fact that exoskeletons have become real hit me. For years, movies have featured these robotic structures that carry people in them but still mimicking the movement of the human body. Avatar, The Edge of Tomorrow, Elysium and Matrix III all depicted them in a way it felt like it would always remain science fiction.


Exoskeletons are robotic structures that are attached to the joints in order to substitute muscle power when it’s needed. It contains a computer in the backpack which can power the robotic components for hours. The prototypes couldn’t really mimic the way we walk but it’s getting better; the elements are getting thinner and the energy source is getting stronger.

A good friend of mine, Remco Hoogendijk, Innovation manager of Sint Maartenskliniek, just told me a fantastic story. They had their first patient taking his exoskeleton home. This basically is the end of an 8 weeks-long training program and the exoskeleton they use is the ReWalk 6.0.

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The patient is Ruben de Sain, a great guy how has had a Spinal Cord Injury ten years ago. That hasn’t stopped him in life. He works as a car salesman in a Seat garage and he loves to go skiing with his friends.

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The device is not yet widely available and costs are high. Some patients turn to crowdfunding the required money for their exoskeleton, while payors might cover it for others. Using such a technology would mean that patients could go back to work and live a normal life without the constant help and supervision of caregivers. With 3D printing methods, the production costs of the elements could go down too. These directions paint a bright future.

Ekso Bionics and ReWalk have been the major players, the latter even having an FDA approval. DARPA presented exoskeleton elements that can help soldiers run tirelessly or jump higher. As this technology keeps on improving, the question soon will not be whether paralyzed people can walk again, but them walking faster than healthy people.

There Will Be No “Mars Generation” Without These Technologies

NASA is set to send astronauts to orbit Mars and return them safely by the mid 2030s. And a manned landing on the Red Planet will soon follow. However, this work will be in vain if health technology does not advance.

My parents were members of the Apollo generation. The amazing accomplishment of putting men on the Moon defined their era, stretching the boundaries of what humanity can achieve. But after the last Moon landing, no more exciting breakthroughs emerged. Global attention to space declined. Until now.

Visionaries like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are making spaceflight exciting again – turning our children into the Mars generation. Indeed, NASA is set to send astronauts to orbit Mars and return them safely by the mid 2030s. And a manned landing on the Red Planet will soon follow. However, this work will be in vain if health technology does not advance.



Image credit: NASA

The trip to Mars takes around seven months, which is a only a little longer than the time astronauts spend on the International Space Station; however, counting their mission, orbit around Mars, landing, and return, the journey will take years.

Spaceflight has a serious effect on astronauts. Variations in temperature and radiation levels, motion sickness, losing bone and muscle mass despite doing exercises, disruption of vision and taste…all of these cause health issues, not to mention the psychological consequences of space travel.

Unfortunately, today, our health can only be effectively monitored by sensors that, at the present time, fill a room. Treating an injury such as a broken bone—a simple matter on Earth—requires medical manufacturing capabilities, capabilities that we don’t have on the Red Planet.

The technologies we need to solve the aforementioned issues exist, but they are in their infancy. Telemedicine is inaccurate and unregulated; genome sequencing is used in the rarest of cases and only by top medical institutions; 3D printing in medicine is the playground of citizen scientists, but has yet to advance into a viable and effective method of treatment.

The sad fact is, we don’t stand a chance of getting to Mars without a booming digital health industry. With that in mind, here are the top inventions and technologies we need if we ever hope to make a new home for humanity on Mars.



Printing with a 3D printer at Makers Party: Via WikiMedia

As astronauts will be alone and cannot bring all the supplies for a lengthy stay on the Red Planet, they will need printers that can print out medical equipment, prosthetics, and drugs on demand. Bringing the ingredients for these, and printing out what is needed on site, makes more sense than bringing a few types of equipment and drugs which could only help under limited circumstances.

Astronauts could establish manufacturing by designing printers that can print out other printers. The whole idea of 3D printing is going to be essential to them. It has been shown that customized prosthetics can be printed out, some forms of medical equipment, and even drug used in epilepsy. The basic examples are here already or trends seem to be pointing into this direction. So the future is looking bright.



Credit: Professor Takao Someya

Forget smart clothes and devices that can measure your ECG or pulse with a smartphone. On a trip to Mars, every ounce of cargo matters. Without tiny sensors that can measure every important vital sign and health parameter, crew members will not be able to make medical decisions.

Today’s wearable trackers are big, get discharged quickly, and are hard to work with. Astronauts cannot rely on them. Digital tattoos and implanted microchips could do the job without the active participation of astronauts. These would measure every relevant parameter and let them know when there is something they should take care of. The Japanese Professor Someya has been developing such tattoos with his team; as well as the MC10 company.


Since they won’t have access to proper healthcare for years, knowing what major conditions the Martian astronauts might face would be highly beneficial, indeed, even necessary. A full genome sequencing, assisted by microbiome tests and other lab markers, will let physicians partially predict what major diseases they will probably encounter in their lives and what they can do to try to avoid most of them. This includes what diet to choose based on the types of bacteria they live with and what lab markers to regularly re-check to catch a disease before it would develop.


IBM’s Watson computer, Yorktown Heights, NY. Via: WikiMedia

No matter how sophisticated sensors are, measurements will not help with day-to-day issues unless there are smart algorithms that can make suggestions. Astronauts will have no constant contact with Earth, and they cannot have all the skills of an experienced physician, researcher, and data analyst.

Algorithms will do this job for them. This will help them get the most out of each day to exploit the theoretical limits of efficiency.


Image credit: ITouch

Even though the distance is big between physicians here and the crew on Mars, high quality communication with specialized caregivers on Earth will be an essential part of their care. As was mentioned, the distance and delay in communication will make it tricky, but from time to time, communication with a real doctor will be absolutely necessary.

While the future of smart algorithms used in healthcare is bright, human supervision will still be a crucial part of making sure they are on the right track. InTouch Health is a good example.


Fortis exoskeleton. Image credit: FORTIS

Lifting huge weights and working tirelessly for long hours will be must-have features on Mars, as astronauts will need to build a base camp. As exoskeletons get thinner and more comfortable, the crew on Mars will use them as frequently as the first astronauts used screwdrivers. Exoskeletons today can already let paralyzed people walk again; let soldiers not get tired of walking for hours or even run faster and jump higher. As long spaceflights weaken their muscles no matter how much they try to exercise in zero gravity, exoskeletons could supply them with the lost strength.


Astronauts will need to be able to partially engineer life. By life, I mean bacteria, yeast, and even their own immune system if needed. The new genome editing method, CRISPR, could play a major role in this. Systems involving engineering bacteria to produce hormones, antibiotics, or other materials would allow them to use nature as a manufacturing device, even to filter water or create the desired atmosphere. Community labs currently available in California and the iGem competitions have demonstrated in what a wide range of situations bioengineering can offer solutions.


Image credit: Weyland

There will be cases, almost inevitably, when astronauts will need to undergo surgery. Current surgical robots that perform big operations are controlled by surgeons through a control panel. The movie Prometheus featured a surgical robot capsule that can perform the whole operation on its own. The Mars generation will require an invention somewhere in between. Surgeons on Earth could pre-plan every step, and the robot could perform those steps while being supervised with the time delay digitally.

I truly believe that humans are discoverers – and the next great enterprise is discovering the cosmos, starting with Mars. At first, the task will fall on a few brave people, and we have to make sure we can keep them safe, healthy, and functioning in an environment that is hostile to human life.

We need to upgrade their health with advancements in digital health to make this possible. Luckily, these breakthrough technologies are all within our reach.

Read more about health technologies we will need to reach Mars and how to start upgrading your own health in my new book, My Health: Upgraded,

The future of the FDA and drug regulations

The system of drug regulation is obsolete. To keep patients around the world safe, authorities like the FDA must step up and deal with disruptive trends – without suffocating innovation.

Innovation in medicine is getting faster while the processes the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses are sometimes decades old. The Patient Engagement Advisory Committee, launched in September 2015, was a great step forward. But regulators are unprepared for some big changes on the horizon.


Here are the top five issues that I believe will shape the future of the regulatory environment.

1) Patients taking action

If regulations don’t support the trends and technologies that make lives better, patients will take action themselves. This trend is already apparent, fueled by disruptive technologies like crowdsourcing. There is a chance that patients (or clusters of patient groups) might start acquiring/launching biotech companies to develop drugs and conduct clinical trials themselves without waiting for a regulatory agency to pave the way for them.

2) The ‘Uberification’ of healthcare

Uber has caused protests around the world by disrupting the taxi industry through making transportation available at lower prices. The company’s success and price advantage was made possible in no small part through avoiding regulations. If on-demand care delivery services gain popularity in the same way, before proper regulations are put in place, the resulting chaos will threaten patients’ health and caregivers’ livelihoods.

The FDA will have to be at its best to prevent this. And it must hurry up – The Heal app and Go2Nurse in Chicago have already started this disruption around how healthcare is delivered.


3) Wearables

The wearable health tracker revolution is changing the healthcare status quo, as medical information is now available outside the ivory tower of medicine which previously kept this information solely in the hands of physicians.

There might soon be ‘insideables’ – namely, devices implanted into the body or just under the skin. There are already people who have had RFID chips implanted to enable them to open up a laptop, a smartphone or even the garage door. Another trend is that of ‘digestibles’ – pills or tiny gadgets that can be swallowed to track digestion and the absorption of drugs.

So far, the FDA has not been keen on regulating the wearable market heavily. But when such disruptive technologies hit the market, it will be years behind.

4) Direct-to-consumer genomic services

When the FDA shot down all direct-to-consumer (DTC) services from the likes of 23andMe and Navigenics, there was a belief that it would soon provide a regulatory framework for such services. But, two years on, these companies function on thin ice.

While the freedom to access information about our health is crucial, regulatory agencies must make sure that the data patients receive is accurate and is discussed with a genetic counselor or physician. Otherwise, patients might interpret results wrongly. In five-to-10 years, genome sequencing will become accessible to almost everyone, and won’t be limited to big companies with serious capital. When that time comes, the FDA will face a serious scenario in which patients access the information in their DNA and analyse it at home with services like IBM Watson. They won’t need to involve any healthcare professional. But lifestyle and medical decisions based on such information will still require expertise that only trained physicians bring.

5) Real-time data gathered by insurance companies

Insurance companies such as Oscar Health have started issuing wearables to their customers, and offering incentives and rewards (like an Amazon gift card) if the customers agree to share their data obtained from health trackers. This motivates the patient to live a healthier life and doesn’t require strict regulation. But current wearable technology only provides harmless information about the wearer’s health, like steps taken or heart rate.


What will happen when every health parameter and vital sign can be constantly monitored using next-generation wearables, like digital tattoos? It’s great seeing companies backing preventive medicine, but keeping patients’ information private is crucial.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a step in the right direction. The US law makes sure patients do not share genetic test results with their employers and insurance companies, as that could be used to personalize their insurance rates, punishing them, for example, for inherent genetic defects that they were born with.

But similar regulation that encompasses any health parameter will be much harder.

The progress of technology cannot be stopped. Similarly, we all want healthcare to be safe, affordable and efficient. However, to regulate these disruptive trends without stifling innovation, the FDA must have the clearest vision and the best knowledge about healthcare trends.

The biggest challenge today is that the regulators are not at the forefront of innovation and they cannot hope to anticipate and regulate changes that they don’t yet understand.

I recently published this article on

Top 10 Medical Technologies of 2016

Every year, I publish my predictions for the coming year. As the Medical Futurist, I’m expected to come up with bright visions and I’m happy to rise to the challenge. Last year my predictions included a digital tattoo, portable diagnostic devices thanks to the XPrize Challenge, IBM Watson’s rise to prominence in analyzing big health data, and brain computer interfaces such as Muse or Thync becoming available to the general public. These visions have since become reality.

It’s time to list the 10 major breakthroughs and trends that will dominate healthcare and medicine in 2016.

1) Virtual Reality

Once The New York Times gave out Google Cardboards with its newspapers, it was clear virtual reality was going mainstream. But now that Facebook’s Oculus Rift just became available for pre-order, virtual reality is going to become a booming industry. With really sophisticated devices on the market, it might have its biggest year ever in 2016. It will be used to let medical students gain realistic experience in examining patients or to let patients see what would happen to them the next day at the hospital for stress release.



2) Augmented Reality

A Novartis chief announced that the digital contact lens patented by Google would become available in 2016. As it will measure blood glucose from tears, it is supposed to change diabetes treatment and management. Moreover, Hololens from Microsoft also comes out in 2016 which will have a huge impact on fields from medical education to architecture and engineering. It could help medical students do dissections for many hours a day from any angles without the formaldehyde smell.


3) Fibretronics

2015 was not the year of smartclothes no matter how much we anticipated it. Even the ones with the biggest market potentials like HexoSkin were only traditional shirts with built-in devices in their pockets. But fibretronics are clothing materials with microchips implanted into them. They can react to body temperature or the mood of the wearer, among others. Google has started collaborating with Levi’s to create true fibretronic materials, which could be used to interact with technology through our clothes in novel ways. Imagine this in the OR. As the first promising collaborations in this area came out in 2015, expect to see the first tangible results in 2016!


4) Smart Algorithms Analyzing Wearable Data

2015 was the year of wearable health trackers. A swarm of devices became available, Amazon launched its Wearable Marketplace and millions of activity trackers were sold. But gaining actionable insights from the constant stream of wearable data is not easy. We need clever algorithms and apps that merge data from several devices and apps, and help us draw meaningful conclusions. It would help lay people put more emphasis on prevention and have a healthier lifestyle. I had experience with, one of the earliest attempts, but it still needs to go a long way.

my gadgets

5) Near-Artificial Intelligence in Radiology

IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been used in oncology to assist medical decision-making. It proved the clear benefits of such a system by making diagnoses and treatment cheaper and more efficient. IBM’s Medical Sieve project aims to diagnose most lesions with a smart software, leaving room for radiologists to focus on the most important cases instead of checking hundreds of images every day.

6) Food Scanners

Food scanners like Scio and Tellspec have been in the spotlight since 2014, but as early developer prototypes have already been mailed to their first users in 2015, 2016 could be the year they become generally available. This would enable anyone to find out what’s really on their plates, providing clear benefits not just to people looking to gain weight or eat healthier food, but people with dangerous allergies as well.  


7) Humanoid Robots

One of the most promising companies developing robots is Boston Dynamics, acquired by Google in 2013. Since then, they only released teaser videos about animal-like robots and Petman, the humanoid robot. Many technologies they are working on seem to be at a stage where they are ready to become actual products, the first signs of which we’ll see in 2016.

8) 3D Bioprinting

Organovo has been in the focus because of 3D printing biomaterials for years. They announced successfully bioprinted liver tissues in 2014 and they seemed to be 4-6 years away from printing liver parts for transplantation. But first, these bioprinted livers could be finally used in the pharmaceutical industry to replace animal models when analyzing the toxicity of new drugs. If it goes through in 2016, I feel printing actual liver tissue for transplantation could become a commercial service within the next decade.

9) Internet of Health Things At Home

Last year, I released a concept art of a bathroom of the future. All the elements in that image from the smart toothbrush to the digital mirror were partially available in 2015. But an array of sensors will reach the general public in 2016 making IoT a reality in our homes. The long-term goal is to make these devices communicate and learn from each other. This way we would not have to analyze the data of the devices ourselves, but the device manufacturers could merge their findings and share a digestible report with us when there is something to take care of.


10) Theranos – Thumbs Up Or Down

The end of 2015 saw Theranos embroiled in a scandal. The company claims to perform blood tests from one drop of blood in a transparently priced way. Concerns were raised by the Wall Street Journal about the validity of their claims, and we are waiting for Theranos to reveal the details of their technology.


Besides these, the new Verily Life Sciences branch of Alphabet and the gene editing method CRISPR might have a big hit in 2016. We will see.

These technologies and trends will create value and have an impact on our lives and the practice of medicine in 2016. To keep an eye on them, subscribe to my newsletter!

What Healthcare Should Learn From Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the best sci-fi movies of all times. It still looks modern and believable after fifty years. Stanley Kubrick’s secret was how he deliberately designed the future with the help of experts from NASA and IBM, not just “imagined it” with artists. Healthcare, which is still designed entirely by people within the industry, could benefit greatly from adopting Kubrick’s methods. So how can we reinvent healthcare using Kubrick’s playbook?

Fifty years ago, on the 29th of December, 1965, shooting of 2001: A Space Odyssey began. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece was to become the best sci-fi movie of all times, according to both the American Film Institute and The Rolling Stone magazine. Part of its success – along with an eye-opening story, a brave script and breathtakingly beautiful scenes – was how utterly futuristic it looked. When production on 2001: A Space Odyssey began, the Apollo program was still in its infancy, and manned missions have not yet reached the Moon. But the movie’s spaceships, cryopreservation capsules and digital screens still seem modern and believable. They could easily be placed in contemporary films like Interstellar or The Martian and without looking anachronistic. He used methods every hospital manager in the world should consider using when the job is to design the future of care.

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Genius director Stanley Kubrick was not impressed by the settings of other sci-fi films of the time. He decided against following Hollywood tradition. He didn’t rely on Hollywood designers and visual artists as every other director did. Instead, he based the movie on the ideas and predictions of experts, engineers and scientists from trailblazing organizations like NASA and IBM.

The ivory tower of today’s medicine is very much like the Hollywood traditions Kubrick violated. Physicians, care delivery experts and regulators all believe they know what’s best for patients, and most everything, from hospital processes to new healthcare technologies is designed based on input solely from people inside the healthcare industry. As Kubrick’s example shows, truly visionary solutions can only be designed by the right mix of industry insiders and outside experts.

Why raze the ivory tower?

Initially the bravest predictions about future technologies came from Arthur C. Clarke, visionary science fiction writer. Inspired by digital guidance systems in development for NASA, he proposed that while the astronauts sleep, an on-board computer could take care of them. But computers back then were rare commodities only big companies could afford.


So Kubrick and Clarke approached IBM, a pioneer in the field of personal computers to find out how to make this computer plausible. IBM actually brought in their celebrated industrial-design consultant, Eliot Noyes, to create designs for the computer system. In the summer of 1965, Kubrick received a letter about the concern that “a computer of the complexity required for Discovery spacecraft would be a computer into which men went, rather than a computer around which men walked”. Finally, he used Clarke’s inspiration and the suggestions from IBM in designing the finalized form of HAL 9000, a computer that became a legacy.

Healthcare faces similar challenges. We need a strong vision of the future and innovation to take us there. But these cannot be achieved from the ivory tower of medicine, by regulatory agencies like the FDA and boards of physician experts. Physicians can’t see the problems of care delivery without patient input. And decision makers might not even realize there are innovative technologies available to solve these problems.

We need people with intimate knowledge of both the actual health problems we seek to treat, and the technologies disrupting our industry. We need to bring in the ideas of patients and disruptive startups. We need to raze the ivory tower, or we’ll keep running in circles while we waste trillions of dollars on ineffective care and patients continue to suffer.

What healthcare can learn from Stanley Kubrick

From spaceship interiors to the Moon base, from videophones to digital advertisements, Kubrick relied on experts not only from Hollywood, but also from scientific fields from computer science to the space industry. This is why he created something that stood the test of time. Changing an old system is not possible without putting the primary stakeholders in the driver’s seat. And this is why today’s healthcare, designed without contributions from patients and innovators, cannot meet the demands of neither patients nor politicians.


There are signs that this is changing. The Food and Drug Administration launched a Patient Engagement Advisory Committee in September of 2015. The Society for Participatory Medicine and the Blue Button movement in the US aim to provide patients with their own data and medical records. The prestigious British Medical Journal seeks more patients to be reviewers on articles about their conditions.

The HealthDesignBy.Us movement brings together patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, engineers, artists and researchers who are passionate about patient-centered participatory design. They develop smartphone games for kids with diabetes; social media campaigns, and hold workshops to redesign care delivery processes. This is a true bottom-up initiative, focusing on patients and letting them shape their care.

Still, these are just the first steps. Patients should play a pivotal role in designing the future of care. They should have their voices heard when the interior of a clinic is designed or the delivery of health services is structured.

Innovative startups that are built around patients could also help change the status quo. TrialReach connects patients to open clinical trials. Smart Patients provide a platform to share experience and advice. The Heal application connects patients to physicians the same way Uber connects passengers to drivers.

When 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968, the first critical reactions were utterly negative. Well-known critics thought the film offered “pretentious music and weird effects”; or was “in summary, a most unsatisfying movie”. Viewers did not like it, and left during screening. But this audience consisted of people over 50, with no interest in science fiction. When people started spreading the word about how unique the movie is, a younger generation took notice, and cinemas started to get crowded.


We see the same in healthcare today, with physicians and regulators pushing back against empowered patients and innovators asking for a bigger say in shaping the future of care. The “old guard” may judge your contributions harshly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forge ahead anyways.

Designing the future of healthcare with Kubrick’s method

There are several great ways to put Kubrick’s design process to use in healthcare:

  • Every hospital should have a patient advisory board including patients who have been treated at that facility. Only with their help would it become possible to create a healthcare system that is futuristic even decades after the first plans were drawn.
  • Hospital managers and administrators should organize healthcare hacking events. Far from just inviting experts to tell him how to do his job, Kubrick planned and organized experts from outside his industry to get the most out of their knowledge and expertise. The Radboudumc REshape Center in the Netherlands has been doing this for years.
  • Healthcare event organizers should include patients in the planning of their conferences. More and more healthcare conferences get the “Patients Included” badge which means patients either speak at the event or are in the organizing committee.
  • Startup incubators should connect engineers and developers to patients who can tell them their needs. This would establish a relationship between the technologists and those who will actually use their innovations, and make sure that patient needs and concerns are resolved. Currently, this is a missing link.

It’s up to us to decide – should healthcare remain a paternalistic hierarchy with obsolete technologies, or should it be built on a foundation of innovation, serving patients effectively and at a manageable cost?

Read more about the future of healthcare and learn how to start upgrading your own health in the new book, My Health: Upgraded.

Top 10 Science Fiction Technologies That Arrived in 2015

As a science fiction fanatic, it’s exciting to see sci-fi in real life. Technologies that we have only seen in movies before are now transforming our everyday lives. We’re connected 24/7, across the globe by smartphones; driverless cars navigate safely in traffic; and houses are printed out. The same is happening in healthcare, even if we don’t yet feel this when we go to the GP’s office. Here are the top 10 stories that made healthcare feel like sci-fi in 2015:

1) 3D Printed Cast

Scott Summit from 3D Systems might have been the first patient ever to have a shower with a 3D printed cast on his arm. It is personalized to his arm, really cheap and easily replaceable. A Spanish startup Exovite is turning it into a product anyone can buy. Their cast also includes electrodes to prevent muscles from atrophying under the cast.



2) Seeing Veins Under the Skin

A new device called VeinVeiwer Vision2 uses near-infrared light to generate real-time imagery of a patient’s veins. Taking blood – without damaging blood vessels or causing excessive pain – won’t just depend on the skill and the experience of phlebotomists.


3) Kidney Tissue Grown in Lab

Lab-grown kidney tissues were successfully transplanted into animals. This is the first step towards making biomaterials transplantable into patients. Steps such as this make me hope for a near-future without organ donor waiting lists.

4) Cheap Prosthetics For Kids

The E-Nable project brings cheap, 3D printed prosthetics to underdeveloped regions. The parts can be replaced easily and the whole prosthetic device can be assembled by anyone. A lot of regional E-Nable projects were launched in 2015.

5) Augmented Reality in Medical Education

Microsoft will release its augmented reality head-mounted device in 2016 but they published the first videos about how it could be used in medical education and the future of medical training. Imagine studying anatomy by literally looking at 3D body parts in front of your eyes. I wish I was a medical student now.


6) Pacemaker Without Surgery

A new wireless pacemaker with a battery life of over two decades can be implanted without surgery and was found safe in a clinical study. It is implanted similarly to stents: through a vein in the leg.

7) Hacking The Pancreas

A cute story about a couple showed the merits of empowered patients and citizen scientists. The husband is an engineer and the wife has diabetes. As diabetic patients face very low or very high blood glucose levels during the night, an alarm system for either extreme would be very useful, but is currently not available. They created one with DIY methods. Their solution gained fame, and might be turned into a product soon.

8) The Digital Contact Lens

A Novartis chief announced that the digital contact lens would come out in 2016. The patent about the technology belongs to Google, but the pharmaceutical company teamed up with them to provide better treatments in diabetes by letting the lens measure blood glucose from tears.


9) Microchip Under The Skin Monitors Vital Signs

A new medical device – in effect a small microchip – can be implanted under the skin and allows for precise, real-time medical monitoring. With this invention, any vital sign or health parameter could be measured and monitored. The patient wouldn’t have to keep anything in mind or actively partake in the process.


10) Smart Bandages Detect Infections

Next generation bandages include microchips that measure basic health parameters and also detect infections in their early phase. This way bed sores could be prevented in time.


Hearing these news made me really excited about the future. I’m sure 2016 will bring even more technologies straight out of science fiction medicine, so keep an eye out!

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