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The Ultimate Starter Kit For Looking Into The Future Of Medicine

I receive a lot of questions from patients, physicians, researchers, developers, and policy makers after my talks about where they should start in discovering the future of medicine. Which books, movies, TV series or websites would help them understand and get a clear picture about where medicine and healthcare are heading because of new disruptive innovations.

Here are the top choices in each of these categories.

1) Books

Let me show you two books about the future of medicine. The first is The Patient Will See You Now from Dr. Eric Topol. This is the Number One book in digital health. The second is The Digital Doctor from Dr. Bob Wachter. These two books will give you an absolutely clear picture about where we are heading.

Here are nine more books about the future of medicine.

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2) Movies

Regarding movies, Gattaca shows you the non-desired future of genomics. Big Hero 6 talks about how we could measure health parameters at home. And Elysium is discussing the future of radiology and how financial differences will harm society if it comes to health.

Read more in the Top 10 Science Fiction Movies About the Future of Medicine.

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3) Television series

Regarding TV series, The Knick gives a great picture about the first years of modern surgery and how medicine develops over time. And I like Humans which depicts a future with robot companions and what problems on the level of society we will have with them. I also like Star Trek that shows you what people thought about the future of medicine decades ago.

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4) Websites

These are the ones I check on a daily basis.

5) Social Media channels

Regarding social media channels, there are great communities on Google+ (see the image below) and I regularly check the futurology sub-Reddit on Reddit.com.

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What are your choices?

10 Disruptive Technologies That Will Transform Pharma

My article about those 10 trends that I think can disrupt the whole pharmaceutical industry was just published on Pharmaphorum.com. An excerpt of the article:

When I speak to pharma companies I tell them they need to act now or they will lose business, or even be left with no business at all. I try to underscore this radical statement by highlighting the following trends and examples:

To give you an idea, here is my list:

  1. Empowered patients
  2. Health gamification
  3. Augmented reality and virtual reality
  4. Genomics and truly personalized medicine
  5. Body sensors
  6. ‘Do it yourself’ biotechnology
  7. The 3D printing revolution
  8. The end of human experimentation
  9. Medical decision making with artificial intelligence
  10. Nanorobots
  11. Here is a recent video I recorded about the technologies I’m the most excited about.

The 12 Most Exciting and Surprising Collaborations in Digital Health

From time to time, I come across news covering collaborations between companies which are either promising or surprising. Sometimes both. A future full of science fiction technologies in medicine & healthcare starts with such collaborations. Here are those I’m the most excited about.

1) Oscar Health, the hipster insurance company, works with the wearable tracker Fitbit. Insured people can submit their Fitbit data and if they reach the daily fitness goals, they get $1 every day.

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2) Qualcomm, which is world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies, and Walgreens, the largest drug retailing chain in the US, are collaborating  to power device connectivity in remote patient monitoring, transitional care support and chronic care management.

3) The patient community site Patientslikeme.com started working with the pharma company AstraZeneca to support patient-driven research initiatives. AstraZeneca will use data from the community site to improve outcomes of several therapeutic areas.

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4) The company Organovo that works on printing out biomaterials teamed up with L’Oréal to focus on printing out synthetic skin.

5) Organovo also works with the pharma company Merck to use the 3D printed liver system for drug testing. It could eradicate the use of animal testing at pharma companies.

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6) The American Association of Retired Persons launched a collaboration with Pfizer and United Health to discover how wearable devices and other health trackers could impact the lives of people aged 50 and older.

7) The pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim has formed a new digital health collaboration with California healthcare provider Sutter Health. They will test digital health solutions, mobile technologies and data analytics.

8) Novartis signed an agreement with Google about the digital contact lens that Google patented in 2014 and can measure blood glucose levels from tears. It could be a hit in diabetes management.

iOptik-contact-lenses-augment-your-eyes-and-allow-for-futuristic-immersive-virtual-reality-FP

9) The Human Longevity Inc. is joining forces with Cleveland Clinic for a human genomics collaboration aimed at disease discovery. They will sequence and analyze blood samples from the medical center’s patient study, running whole genome, cancer and microbiome sequencing.

10) Nestlé started working with companies that develop food printers. They want to have a branch with business models, experts and products by the time food printing becomes a common thing at home.

3d-printer-food

11) Google’s Calico project works together with the pharma company Abbvie to accelerate the discovery, development and commercialization of new therapies.

12) Pfizer surprised many of us when it announced its collaboration with a lab developing DNA robots. They could target diseases more efficiently with robots that deliver the drug to the desired location.

Have I missed anything? Please let me know.

Digital Health Rockstars Who Helped Predict The Future Of Medicine

I was very lucky to have the chance to conduct interviews with dozens of experts when I was writing my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine. I learnt from them and used their insights for shaping my views about how technology will dramatically change medicine and healthcare in the upcoming years. Here is a list of people who and companies that helped predict the future:

  • Professor Steve Mann, one of the first cyborgs
  • Chris Dancy, the most connected man
  • E-Patient Dave drBronkart, e-patient guru
  • Denise Silber, organizer of Doctors 2.0 and You.
  • Lucien Engelen, Director REshape Center for Innovation at Radboud University Medical Center
  • Dr. Catherine Mohr, Vice President of Medical Research at Intuitive Surgical, developers of the da Vinci surgical robot
  • Professor Robert S. Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jack Andraka, inventor, scientist
  • Dr. Rafael Grossmann, surgeon futurist, Google Glass user
  • NerdCore Medical developing educational games in medicine
  • Blake Hannaford, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Co-Founder at Applied Dexterity Inc.
  • Jacob Rosen Ph.D., Professor at UCLA
  • Joel Dudley, Ph.D., Director of Biomedical Informatics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School
  • Edward Abrahams, Ph.D., President of the Personalized Medicine Coalition
  • Professor Takao Someya, Organic Electronics
  • Dr. David Albert, Founder & Chief Medical Officer at AliveCor
  • Professor Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • Organovo, bio 3D printing
  • Michael Molitch-Hou, Author at 3D Printing Industry
  • Ekso Bionics
  • Robert Hester, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Casey Bennett, Dept. of Informatics, Centerstone Research Institute
  • András Paszternák, Ph.D., founder of nanopaprika.eu
  • OpenBCI
  • Interaxon
  • Organizers of the first cyborg Olympic Games, Cybathlon
  • Davecat, the first technosexual
  • Ian Pearson, futurist

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Ethical Issues of The Future of Medicine: The Top 10

While I was writing my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, I was constantly thinking about all the ethical issues disruptive technologies will make us face in the coming years. I’m a born optimist and if you look at recent developments in medicine & healthcare, you realize optimism can now be based on facts. Although, without being prepared for the coming waves of change, physicians, patients and all stakeholders will only come across threats, ethical issues and serious problems when they try to implement technology into everyday care.

I remain confident that we are still in time and we can still prepare for the amazing yet uncertain future of medicine. What is definitely needed, among others things such as new skills, is initiating public discussions now. It was my intention when I made a list of 10 potential ethical issues we will all have to deal with soon.

1) Hacking medical devices

It has already been proven that pacemakers and insulin pumps can be hacked. Security experts have warned us that someone would be murdered through these methods any time soon. How can we prevent wearable devices that are connected to our physiological system from being hacked and controlled from a distance?

2) Defending our privacy

We share much more information about ourselves now than we think. Check mypermissions.org to see what services and apps you have given permission to access your personal information already. What if we start using augmented reality contact lenses and get information about people immediately? Kids being born these years represent the first generation of which every life detail is getting logged. While such big data could significantly improve healthcare, how to prevent companies and governments from using these?

3) Scanning ourselves at home

Now physicians are worried because patients do Google their symptoms and treatments and they might take the misinformation they find there to the caregiver. What will be doctors worried about when patients scan themselves, do a blood test and even genetic analysis at home? Will we able to persuade such patients to turn to doctors and not only trust algorithms? If you think that is still science fiction, check the finalist of the Nokia Sensing XChallenge.

4) Healthy people switching to technology

Matthew James was born with dysmelia, a congenital disorder causing deformed limbs. James wrote to his favorite Formula One team, Mercedes, at age 14 that he was ready to display their logo on his prosthesis if they could support him financially. He received £30,000 but was not taken up on his offer of advertising space. This story shows that the implementation of such innovations in the everyday lives cannot depend purely on individual entrepreneurship. As a consequence, what if people start asking their doctors to replace their healthy limbs for robotic ones?

Prosthetic arm

5) Biological differences

Today, societies struggle to fight gender and financial inequality. But from the time technology can truly augment human capabilities, people will get smarter, healthier and faster only by being able to afford them. How do we prepare society for a time when financial differences lead to biological ones?

6) How society changes if we can prolong life

Longevity studies have been going on for decades. Several aspects about the ultimate secrets of long life have been discovered, but we haven’t really got closer to significantly prolong life. Sooner or later, we will. What happens with the basics of society if the majority of us start living for more than 100 years? How can we make sure that ageing doesn’t necessarily get associated with severe decline in health?

7) Bioterrorism due to nanotechnology

In the wildest futuristic scenarios, tiny nanorobots in our bloodstream could detect diseases. After a few decades they might even eradicate the word symptom inasmuch as no one would have them any longer. These microscopic robots would send alerts to our smartphones or digital contact lenses before disease could develop in our body. If it becomes reality, and microrobots swimming in bodily fluids are already out there, how can we prevent terrorists from trying to hack these devices controlling not only our health but our lives?

bigstock-Nanobots-7414004

8) Technological developments vs. evidence based medicine

Over the last few years, technological advances have become so fast, it’s really hard to keep track of them any more. In the meantime, evidence based medicine shapes how we deliver healthcare. The latter is a fundamentally long process. Certain solutions such as simulations with cognitive computers might make them faster but these could never be as fast as technological developments. When patients start seeing the amazing innovations out there not being accessible to them in the everyday care, how will it transform the basic ways of practicing medicine?

9) Transhumanism & Singularitarianism

There are movements and philosophies that highlight one concept or approach even though it is highly unlikely that one solution will lead to a prosperous future. A network of interconnected people, devices, and concepts is intended to solve global issues. It is advisable not to trust just one movement or philosophy such as transhumanism or singularitarians. The most plausible solution will be a mix of all the concepts trying to describe the coming decades. We should be skeptical and analytical before accepting major philosophies about the future. In the history of mankind the number of new philosophies has never increased as fast as it is doing now. But it has never been easier to learn more about them.

10) Sexuality becoming technological

A man named Davecat lives with his wife and mistress, both of whom are Synthetiks––specially designed, life–sized Dolls. Accordingly, Davecat calls himself a technosexual. While some will not understand how Davecat thinks about his partners, his story represents perfectly the diversity of concepts and theories that will arise in the next couple of years. How can we prepare for all these if we cannot even solve today’s issues in sexuality?

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What have I missed? Please leave a comment and start the discussion now!

Read more about the ethical issues of the future of medicine in my recent book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

10 Things How Artificial Intelligence Could Make Me a Better Doctor

I was watching the movie Her for the second time and I was fascinated again about the scene in which the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix got his new operating system with artificial intelligence (AI) and started working with that. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ways I could use such an AI system in my life and how it actually could make me a better doctor.

Don’t get me wrong, I think empathy and great communication with patients can make a doctor better primarily, but as the amount of medical information out there is exponentially growing; as the time for dealing with patients and information is getting less, it is becoming humanly impossible to keep up with that. If I could devote the time it takes now to deal with technology (inputting information, looking for papers, etc.) to patients, that would be a huge step towards becoming better.

Here are 10 things how AI could make me a better doctor and consequently live a better life.

1) Eradicate waiting time: Not only patients have to wait a lot for their doctors, but doctors lose a lot of time everyday waiting for something (a patient, a lab result, etc.). An AI system that makes my schedule as efficient as possible directing me to the next logical task would be a jackpot.

2) Prioritize my emails: I deal with about 200 e-mails every single day. I try to teach GMail how to mark an e-mail important or categorize them automatically into social media messages, newsletters and personal e-mails, it’s still a challenge. In Her, the AI system prioritized all the 3000 unread e-mails in a second. Imagine that!

HER

3) Find me the information I need: I think I have mastered the skill of searching for information online using dozens of Google search operators and different kinds of search engines for different tasks, but it still takes time. What if an AI OS could answer my questions immediately by looking up the answer online?

4) Keep me up-to-date: There are 23 million papers on Pubmed.com. If I could read 3-4 papers of my field of interest per week, I couldn’t finish in a lifetime and meanwhile millions of new studies would come out. I need an AI to show me what I should really read that day. Now my curated social media networks do this job, although I’m sure it would be much more accurate with AI.

5) Work when I don’t: I can fulfil my online tasks (e-mails, reading papers, searching for information) when I use my PC or laptop, and I can do most of these on my smartphone. When I don’t use any of these, I obviously cannot work. An AI system could work on these when I don’t have any device in hand.

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6) Help me make hard decisions rational: A doctor must face a series of hard decisions every day. The best we can do is to make those decisions as informed as possible. Some of them are still hard to make. I can ask people of whom I value the opinions and that’s it. Imagine discussing these with an AI system that is even more rational than you are.

7) Help patients with urgent matters reach me: A doctor has a lot of calls, in-person questions, e-mails and even messages from social media channels on a daily basis. In this noise of information, not every urgent matter can reach you. What if an AI OS could select the crucial ones out of the mess and direct your attention to it when it’s actually needed.

8) Help me improve over time: People, even those who work on becoming better at their job, make the same mistakes again and again. By discussing every challenging task or decision with an AI, I could improve my overall well-being and the quality of my job. We could do that with people as well, but let’s be honest, it’s practically impossible.

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9) Help me collaborate more: In Her, the AI collected the letters the main character wrote and compiled them into one manuscript which she sent to a publisher that she thought would be willing to publish it. Similarly an AI could find the most potential collaborators and invite them to work on a paper or study I otherwise work on. This way, opening up my networks even more.

10) Do administrative work: Quite an essential percentage of an average day of a doctor is spent with administrative stuff. An AI could learn how to do it properly and do it better than me by time. It could write down my thoughts and compile them anytime just as if I decided to sit down and write them down saving me an enormous amount of time.

Read more about the use of AI in medicine in The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Would you use AI in your work? Please do share! Until then, here is how supercomputers make physicians better:

18 Influencers Shaping Digital Health In 2015

Bionicly came up with a list of influencers and thought leaders who, they think, will shape digital health in the year 2015. It’s a real honor to get into such a list with KevinMD.com, Susannah Fox or Eric Topol and others!

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