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Five Expectations For Physicians About The Future of Medicine

The waves of technological changes coming towards us will generate new possibilities as well as serious threats to medicine and healthcare. Every stakeholder must prepare for these changes in order to reach a balance between using disruptive technologies in medicine and keeping the human touch.

I remain confident that it is still possible to establish that balance and there are reasons not only for patients but also for physicians to look forward to the next few years in medicine. Here are 5 of them.

1) Finally focus on patients

Technology is not against physicians and algorithms are not designed to replace them. Instead, by using efficient and simple technologies in the practice, physicians will finally have time and energy to focus on the patients.

Looking into their eyes while inputting data with augmented reality (Google Glass or digital contact lenses); listening to patients instead of trying to find the right information (as IBM Watson provides that already); and having access to all the devices that are needed to provide a good care (smartphones serving as biosensor packages). What is it if not a great prospect?

2) Avoid burning out

With supercomputers being used in medical decision making; physicians having skills related to digital literacy; using intuitive IT solutions that make it simple to input, export and move around data just like how children today use touchscreen devices; and getting access to the medical information they actually need, hours can be saved every week.

With less effort and time, they will be able to provide more care for their patients. This way, patient reward becomes an essential part again in the process of practicing medicine helping caregivers avoid burning out.

3) Use data that patients collect

The wearable revolution in health peaking this year gives patients the chance to take care of their own health, thus measure health parameters that have only been available and accessible in the ivory tower of medicine.

By bringing this data to the doctor visit, they can save time and effort, moreover, a true partnership between them can be established. As devices become better, cheaper and more efficient, physicians can soon start encouraging their patients to measure parameters relevant to their health and the results will be discussed and used during the next visit.

4) Crowdsource, crowdfund and crowdsolve

With the advances of social media and technologies that give access to these channels, no medical professional should feel alone when dealing with a complicated medical problem of challenge.

If information is needed, it can be crowdsourced; if funding is needed for a new project; it can be crowdfunded; and when a real medical solution is needed, they can find that through an inter-connected network of experts, resources and services.

5) Share responsibility with patients

Although it is now the responsibility of physicians to become the guides for their patients online (that requires new skills), by empowering them, actually responsibility can finally be shared. Medical professionals don’t have to make decisions alone, but in a close partnership with the patient.

But for this, every stakeholder must start preparing in time.

 

Here Is The Bionic Man

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering released a website that features all the technologies and interventions that are being developed in research projects supported by them. It clearly shows how many futuristic developments are already on the way and might be used in practice soon. Here is the list:

  • Robotic leg prosthesis senses a person’s next move and provides powered assistance to achieve a more natural gait.
  • Cartilage regeneration: A light sensitive biogel and biological adhesive help new cartilage grow and become functional.
  • Blood clot emulator can be used to optimize ventricular assist devices to reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Artificial kidney could be used in place of kidney dialysis for treatment of end-stage kidney disease.
  • Microneedle patch delivers vaccines painlessly and doesn’t require refrigeration.
  • Interstitial pressure sensor could help doctors determine optimal times for delivering chemotherapy/radiation to cancer patients.
  • Glucose-Sensing Contacts could provide a non-invasive solution for continuous blood sugar monitoring.
  • Tongue Drive System helps individuals with severe paralysis navigate their environment using only tongue movements.
  • Wireless Brain-Computer Interface records and transmits brain activity wirelessly and could allow people with paralysis to use their thoughts to control robotic arms or other devices.
  • Implantable Sensors for Prosthesis Control detect nerve signals above a missing limb and can use these signals to move a prosthesis in a more natural way.
  • Synthetic Tissue Adhesive: A synthetic glue modeled after an adhesive found in nature could be used to repair tissues in the body.
  • Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound could be used to temporarily open the blood brain barrier to let gene therapy treatments reach the brain.
  • Flexible Electrodes Record Brain’s Activity from the surface of the brain and could be used to control robotic arms or provide real-time information about brain states.
  • Spinal Stimulation is being used in individuals with paralysis to help restore voluntary movement and other functions.

 

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Five Expectations For Patients About The Future of Medicine

The waves of technological changes coming towards us will generate new possibilities as well as serious threats to medicine and healthcare. Every stakeholder must prepare for these changes in order to reach a balance between using disruptive technologies in medicine and keeping the human touch. I remain confident that it is still possible to establish that balance and there are reasons for patients to look forward to the next few years in medicine. Here are 5 of them.

1) Health management: The vast majority of people only deal with their health when they get sick. It is due to the fact that it has been really difficult to obtain useful data about our health. Now, the wearable revolution produces a lot of devices that bring health data measurements to our homes. So far, only physicians and hospitals could measure parameters, but today anyone can. Whether it is ECG, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, EEG or sleep, devices which we can order online provide us with the chance of changing lifestyle based on informed decisions.

Such devices will eventually get smaller and cheaper, and we will hopefully only use them when it is of help.

alivecor-ecg

AliveCor measures ECG with a smartphone.

2) Partnership: Medicine is a paternalistic system with the doctor being on the top making decisions about the patients. The digital revolution has changed it dramatically as now information, devices and even studies became widely available to anyone with an internet connection. This newly formed partnership makes it possible to be equal with the caregiver and play an equal role in making decisions. This will create an ecosystem in which patients get more possibilities to take care of themselves, while physicians will get help from their own patients. Jackpot. Although, a very old system has to be deconstructed for this.

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3) Communities: Social media is not famous for connecting patients, but several stories proved its potential power in connecting patients with like-minded others. We have done discussed our health concerns with our neighbors before. Now we do the same online without limitations and physical boundaries. Blogs, community sites, forums, Youtube and Twitter channels focus on patients and let them have their voices heard. As Kerri Morrone Sparling said, her doctor is an expert but can only understand what she goes through every single day if he/she is diabetic, otherwise he/she can only guess.

internet concept

4) Access to data: The Blue Button movement and E-Patient Dave’s talks encourage people to understand how important it is to own your own health data. It is not only unbelievable but actually outrageous that many hospitals and practices cannot communicate online with each other. Moreover, in others, patients who want to get their own X-Ray image must provide an empty CD disk to get it in the era of digital revolution. As it is not rocket science, we can expect to see major steps forward in this area. Without proper health data, informed medical decisions cannot be made.

blue_button_final

5) Prediction and prevention: Never in the history of medicine patients have had that many opportunities to predict and actually prevent diseases. Anyone can order genetic tests that tell them what rare conditions and mutations they carry and what drugs they are genetically sensitive for. We are not far away from doing a blood test or sequencing genes at home. In this sea of opportunities, the activity and participation of patients are very much needed, In a few years’ time, we will have to deal with the problem of too many choices regarding wearable devices. What is required for making good decisions is knowledge about where we are heading; and skills to make our own assumptions.

If changes happen as expected, patients will benefit the most of a newly constructed and entirely better healthcare system.

My new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, includes more details and an actual guide about how to prepare properly for the technological changes.

The Future Doctor Will Be A Moderator, Not A Sage: Change Is On The Way

There is a great article in The Irish Times about what the roles of future doctors should be. They quoted Dr. Eric Topol, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian and me based on my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine. I’ve been saying for long years that this patriarchal system of medicine with the physician on the top having access to all the medical information and the patient being a minor element should be dramatically changed and restructured.

With the advances of the global e-patient movement, there have been good steps but we need to take this hierarchy down to create a true partnership in which the physician using their medical knowledge and the patient dealing with their health management together can make the best potential decisions.

An excerpt from the article:

Dr Bertalan Mesko, in his recently published book The Guide to the Future of Medicine, says that ever-improving technologies “threaten to obscure the human touch, the doctor-patient relationship and the very delivery of healthcare”.

The doctor and medical futurist warns that these enormous technological changes could “wash away” the medical system as we know it and leave in its place a purely technology-based service without personal interaction.

“Such a complicated system should not be washed away. Rather it should be consciously and purposefully redesigned piece by piece,” Mesko argues.

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The Guide to the Future of Medicine is Available: Download the E-book for Free!

I cannot tell you how happy I’m to announce the official release of my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine which was just made available in black & white paperback, colored paperback and Kindle formats. Moreover, the Kindle format is for free (yes, totally free) until the 6th of September.

It contains over one year of hard work, 70 interviews and 22 trends that will shape the future of medicine including Augmented Reality, Surgical and Humanoid Robots, Genomics, Body Sensors, The Medical Tricorder, 3D Printing, Exoskeletons, Artificial Intelligence, Nanorobots, Virtual–Digital Brains, The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs or Cryonics and Longevity.

Through these, I challenged myself to prove that it is possible to use more and more disruptive technologies in medicine while successfully keeping the human touch.

With Lucien Engelen’s foreword, the many examples and extraordinary stories depicted in the book, you will hopefully get a clear picture where medicine and healthcare are heading at the moment, and more importantly, what we can do as patients, medical professionals or policy makers to prepare for the waves of change.

Please use the #medicalfuture hashtag on Twitter and tell me what you think!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Withings launches #NoMoreSnooze and Aura: Interview

Withings launched the #NoMoreSnooze campaign to encourage people to not hit the snooze button, as well as their sleep tracker Aura which not only helps improve sleep but how we wake up. I did a quick interview with the founders to find out how it actually works. I wrote about how and why I use Withings Pulse before.

How do Pulse and Aura compare regarding the quality of measuring sleep?
Pulse measures sleep only based on the users movements. The Aura measures sleep based on movement and vital signs (heart rate & breathing), therefore it allows the user to track more in depth sleep cycles including REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when the user is completely motionless except for their breathing. Understanding the user’s sleep cycles is why the Aura is called the smart sleep system and uses data from the sleep sensor to wake up the user at the lightest time in their sleep cycle.

Isn’t the ultimate goal of wearables to make them smaller and smaller?
The Aura is not a wearable, in fact it is better than a wearable because it allows for a completely discrete experience for the user. Once the sleep sensor is placed under the user’s mattress, they never have to worry about it again and it automatically starts tracking sleep without having to touch any buttons. Along with the bedside device, the user never has to think about tracking because they will just automatically receive their sleep data on their smartphone every morning.

So far, I have been setting the Morpheuz app on my Pebble smartwatch to wake me up at the best potential time based on the measurements of Pulse. How would Aura change this habit of mine?
Aura uses scientifically proven light and sound program to drastically improve the user’s wake-up experience. It is not only the data from the sleep sensor but also that it connects to the bedside device to slowly wake up the user in their lightest sleep cycle with soothing rhythm based on their breathing rate and emitting the appropriate wavelengths of light to slowly inhibit the secretion of melatonin (the hormone responsible for our sleep-wake cycle) to wake up the user peacefully ensuring the best overall sleep quality.  

Let me know what experience you had after using Aura!

Withings_Aura_flagship

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Let’s Prepare For The Future!

We are facing major changes as medicine and healthcare now produce more developments than in any other era. Key announcements in technology happen several times a year, showcasing gadgets that can revolutionize our lives and our work. Only five or six years ago it would have been hard to imagine today’s ever increasing billions of social media users; smartphone and tablet medical applications; the augmented world visible through Google Glass; IBM’s supercomputer Watson used in medical decision making; exoskeletons that allow paralyzed people to walk again; or printing out medical equipment and biomaterials in three dimensions.

Medical Doctor holding a world globe in her hands as medical network concept

 

It would have sounded like science fiction. Sooner or later such announcements will go from multiple times a year to several times a month, making it hard to stay informed about the most recent developments. This is the challenge facing all of us.

Based on my white paper and CNN article, I decided to demonstrate where the world of medicine is heading in a a book which will come out late August. The Guide to the Future of Medicine will feature 22 trends and technologies that will shape the future.

My mission with the book is to prove that the relation between the human touch in medicine and using disruptive innovations is mutual. By losing the quintessence of practicing medicine, the real-life doctor-patient relationship, we would lose everything. Although without implementing innovative technologies, it is becoming more and more complicated (if not impossible) to provide proper care.

Therefore this new world requires preparation and new skills must also be acquired. I wrote this book to fulfill this mission. 

Here are some of the topics you will be able to read about soon everywhere online before the book comes out.

  • Health Sensors In and Outside The Body
  • DIY Biotechnology
  • Advanced Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence in Medical Decision Support
  • Hospitals of the Future
  • Nanotechnology
  • The 3D Printing Revolution
  • The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs
  • and many more!

Let’s prepare for the amazing yet uncertain future of medicine together! #medicalfuture

 

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