We have been shooting videos all day long and I’m happy to announce that the Medical Futurist Youtube channel is coming soon! Stay tuned!
A lot of medical professionals are worrying about their jobs whether they lose it in the near future due to the coming waves of new technologies. Many of them think they will get replaced by robots and algorithms. My theory about the future focuses on the balance between using disruptive technologies and keeping the human touch. It means we do need to interact with people, although robots and algorithms could perform much better than humans in many areas. But why not combining both?
One of the major obstacles is physicians being resistant to the adoption of new technologies because they are afraid. I think they should not be. Here is how to make sure you will keep your job in the future whether you work in medicine or not.
1) Be a master of information management: Being up-to-date and getting access to the right information at the right time should be a master skill for all of us. Tackling the information pollution is going to be a basic skill but as long as it is not the case, it is going to be a career advantage. You should be perfectly up-to-date in your fields of interest from now on. It requires some efforts but it’s not rocket science.
2) Know more than your decision makers: Having a better knowledge about ongoing and upcoming trends than those making decisions above or for us will be the key in thinking ahead. You should possess all the potentially useful details and pieces of information that allow you to make a step faster than them.
3) Have a new kind of skill set: In different positions before, it was enough to be good at one thing or two, but in the coming era of inter-connected devices, experts and solutions, a network-based approach is very much needed. This new skill set should include digital literacy; advanced problem solving; project management and perfect communication skills on- and offline whatever position you are working in. If you think it’s enough to be good at one thing, you already lost.
4) Exploit the advantages of being human: There might be an algorithm that once will diagnose with a better success rate than people, but there is a range of reasons why the human touch will always be inevitable and crucial. Make sure to bring those skills to the fore that truly leverage the power of the human connection.
5) Improve constantly mentally and physically: Being human in the future will not automatically represent an advantage. This is why we have to constantly improve our cognitive skills, learn new things and keep ourselves sharp. Wearable devices from activity to sleep trackers; and online services such as Lumosity.com or Focusatwill.com could facilitate that.
6) Prepare for future technologies: Do you have all the required knowledge and skills that let you make your own assumptions about the future? You should know about all the trends and technologies that could assist you in your life or job and be able to fast make informed decisions accurately. It does require preparation from now on. Right now, nobody is ready for what is coming next. But soon we all should be.
7) Automate that can be automated: Making tasks and processes around us automated doesn’t mean we become less human. Contrarily, removing inefficient and unnecessary elements of our daily routine gives us a chance to show why being human will always mean something special and will always be an advantage. If we cannot prove that, we deserve to be replaced.
The battle has only begun and we have a lot to do. But if we stick to these rules, it is going to be hard to replace us. Game on.
When I wrote about nanorobots living in our bloodstream and detecting diseases before they could even develop in my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, some readers said that might be a too futuristic concept. Now, here is a great report on Medgadget about microrobots that can swim through bodily fluids. These are developed with the long-term goal of transporting drugs to places in the body we cannot reach now.
A collaboration between scientists in Europe and Israel has developed a novel propulsion system modeled on scallops that can move tiny objects through many of the body’s fluids. The tiny scallop is powered by an external magnetic field that makes the device open and close. Because bodily fluids are typically non-Newtonian, meaning their viscosity changes depending on how fast an object is moving through them, flapping the scallop’s opposing shells at different speeds on the closing than the opening stroke allows it to propel confidently in one direction.
We might be still far away from developing functional nanorobots, but such microrobots definitely represent an important step into that direction.
Yesterday, the winners of the Nokia Sensing Challenge were announced. I have followed the steps of all the 10 finalists for some time and I wasn’t surprised to see which team actually won the competition with the $25,000 grand prize. Here is the official announcement:
Congratulations to Cambridge, MA-based DMI, the $525,000 Grand Prize winner. The five $120,000 Distinguished Awards went to Biovotion (Zurich, Switzerland), Eigen Lifescience (Stanford, CA), Endotronix Wireless Health Monitoring (Woodbridge, IL), Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing (Minneapolis, MN), and GUES (London, England). Your groundbreaking innovations in the area of health sensing technology will revolutionize the way we consume healthcare, offering us more data, more control and more choices.
And here is the winner team, DMI from the United States:
I recently had a radio interview on NPR Health about how I think robots could and should be used in dealing with the ebola outbreak.
You can listen to the interview and read my lines here.
A crucial reason Ebola hasn’t taken off more widely in the United States and elsewhere is that it’s spread only by direct human-to-human contact involving bodily fluids. What if technology could create distance between the virus and the health care worker – remove the human touch?
I see enormous technological changes heading our way. If they hit us unprepared, which we are now, they will wash away the medical system we know and leave it 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. If we are unprepared for the future, then we lose this opportunity.
I wrote a book “The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology AND The Human Touch” to prepare everyone for the coming waves of change, to be a guide for the future of medicine that anyone can use. It describes 22 trends and technologies that I think will shape the future.
Here are the real examples and practical stories about why these are leading the waves of change. Read the whole stories and more examples in the book.
- E-Patient Dave demonstrated what the relationship between patient and doctor should be like.
- PatientsLikeMe.com and smartpatients.com let patients discover each other and share stories.
- CrowdMed.com was designed to help patients crowdsource crucial information.
- By playing games on Lumosity.com, our memory, flexibility, attention, and focus can be improved.
- The Quantified Self movement has recently started to transform into the “Quantified Us” movement.
- The smartphone application “Zombies, Run!” requires the runner to pick up virtual supplies and escape from virtual zombie hordes making exercise more motivated.
- The Microsoft Kinect 3D sensor is able to monitor and analyze performance in real time, giving patients feedback as they exercise and complete assignments.
Eating in the future
- Foodini aims at printing out food using fresh ingredients. It can make ravioli, cookies, or crackers.
- The Cultured Beef project aims to make commercially available meat created by harvesting muscle cells from a living cow.
- TellSpec is a hand–held device designed to determine what macronutrients or specific ingredients the food contains.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
- Dr. Rafael Grossmann became the first surgeon to demonstrate the use of Google Glass during a live surgical procedure.
- Eyes–On™ Glasses uses imaging technology to find the location of the most suitable vein.
- Google is working on a multi–sensor contact lens that would work with Google Glass, other wearables, Android smartphones and even smart televisions.
- An autonomous remote–presence robot called RP–VITA is used in monitoring surgical patients before, during, and after their operations.
- In its 2014 e–health report Deloitte called e–visits the house calls of the 21st century.
- Video consultation is becoming a routine part of care offered by the Stanford Hospital & Clinics.
Re-thinking the Medical Curriculum
- The “Healing Blade” card game takes medical students into a world of sorcery and creatures where real–world knowledge of infectious diseases and therapeutics play a pivotal role in the winning strategy.
- At Radboud University Medical Center, they are currently working on a revolutionary new medical curriculum.
Surgical and humanoid robots
- In underdeveloped regions, surgical robots could be deployed so that operations are performed by surgeons who control the robots from thousands of kilometers away.
- The new version of the daVinci system, called Xi, was released by Intuitive Surgical in 2014.
- Medical drones could deliver supplies and drugs to conventionally unreachable areas.
- The shipping cost of our sample will be more expensive than the cost of actually sequencing our genome.
- In years, we will stop talking about personalized medicine as it will no longer be anything special.
- Oxford Nanopore released its MinION sequencer that can read short DNA fragments, exists on a USB drive sized device, and can perform the actual sequencing on a laptop.
- Using devices to measure numerous health parameters is not only possible in the ivory tower of medicine as 2014 is the year of the wearable revolution.
- The world’s lightest and thinnest flexible sensor system will produce stress–free wearable healthcare sensors.
- The smart bra has successfully been tested in over 500 breast cancer patients detecting the disease.
- The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize promises to award $10 million to the first team to build a medical tricorder.
- An estimated 500 million smartphone users, including medical professionals, consumers, and patients, will be using a healthcare–related application by 2015.
- Physicians will prescribe a lot more applications than medications to their patients.
Growing orgains in labs
- Biomaterials such as liver tissue and skin have been successfully printed out.
- In 2014 scientists succeeded in regenerating a living organ, the thymus, which produces immune cells.
- Citizen scientists are changing the way research is performed.
- BioCurious, a hackerspace for biotech, opened with the mission statement that innovations in biology should be accessible, affordable, and open to everyone.
- Theranos develops a radical blood–testing service that requires only a pinprick and a drop of blood to perform hundreds of lab tests from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses.
The 3D Printing Revolution
- Printing medical devices, living tissues, then eventually cells and pharmaceuticals might not be far away from everyday use.
- Lee Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow, wants to do for the discovery and distribution of prescription drugs what Apple did for music.
- RoboHand has begun developing a low–cost printed leg prosthesis.
- Ekso Bionics designs and develops powered exoskeletons that could make walking possible again for paralyzed people.
- Bespoke Innovations went further in customization to make beautifully designed prosthetics based on the patient’s needs and personality.
Full Physiological Simulation
- Supercomputers could run analyses on thousands of drug targets on billions of patient models in silico.
- HumMod is a simulation system that provides a top–down model of human physiology from organs to hormones.
- The Wyss Institute and a team of collaborators seek to link ten human organs–on–chips to imitate whole–body physiology.
- Watson is perhaps the most important supercomputer, and one of the first to enter the artificial intelligence (AI) market in our time.
- Using 500 randomly selected patients for its simulations, the AI models cost $189 whereas treatment–as–usual cost $497.
- Tiny nanorobots in our bloodstream could detect diseases and send alerts to our smartphones or digital contact lenses before disease could develop in our body.
- The first DNA nanodevice that survived the body’s immune defense was created in 2014.
Hospitals of the Future
- NXT Health designed and funded a prototype of the future hospital rooms intended to reduce infections, falls, errors and ultimately costs.
- The Walnut Hill Medical Center in Dallas has been referred to as the Apple experience hospital due to its design and innovative nature.
- Japanese scientists could map one second’s worth of activity in the human brain with K computer, the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world.
- Optogenetics shows the potential to provide new therapies for several medical conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, or depression.
- Dr. Kevin Warwick managed to control machines and communicate with others using only his thoughts with a cutting–edge neural implant.
The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs
- In 2016, Zurich, Switzerland will host the first championship sports event under the name Cybathlon for parathletes using high–tech prostheses, exoskeletons, and other robotic and assistive devices.
- Chris Dancy is usually referred to as the world’s most connected man. He has between 300 and 700 systems running and collecting real–time data about his life at any given time.
- A research performed in Pennsylvania in May, 2014 tested a new method of freezing gunshot victims while doctors tried to save their lives.
- The Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan stores hundreds of cryopreserved people and animals along with DNA and tissue samples.
There are thousands of reasons why to look forward to the future of medicine!
In many emergency situations, time is the key and everyone should get access to information or the right devices in no time. This new prototype demonstrated in The Netherlands could solve this issue by using a drone to deliver defibrillators very fast to even bigger distances.
An excerpt from the press release:
Developed by Belgian engineering graduate Alec Momont, it can fly at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour). “Around 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the European Union every year and only 8.0 percent survive,” Momont, 23, said at the TU Delft University. “The main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,” he said in a statement. “The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 square kilometre (4.6 square miles) zone within a minute, reducing the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent.”