Predicting medicine in 2029: how could things change in 10 years?
SummaryFrom wearable health trackers to MRI machines, recent decades have seen innovations drive healthcare to a place beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors. We live longer than ever before and that’s thanks to a combination of scientific breakthroughs and great healthcare.
- Author Company: Jessica Foreman
- Author Name: Jessica Foreman
From wearable health trackers to MRI machines, recent decades have seen innovations drive healthcare to a place beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors. We live longer than ever before and that’s thanks to a combination of scientific breakthroughs and great healthcare.
The United States remains the world leader for medical breakthroughs, but £1.3 billion investment in research into early disease detection technology suggests Britain might also be set for seismic changes to the way we treat illness.
As we steam forwards through the 21st century, what are the key predictions medical doctors need to know?
Smart home healthcare
2019 has seen the introduction of smart inhalers, a simple but high-impact technology. An estimated 94 per cent of asthma sufferers don’t use their inhalers properly. This is perhaps why half of athsmatic patients say their condition is not under control.
If the rise of wearables since 2016 is anything to go by, people will become more used to the idea of using app-based technology to track their health. Bluetooth can report on how successful treatments are and an app has even been built to identify depression based on scrolling and typing behaviours.
Such technology could also help to make healthcare more efficient, since patients may require smaller doses and fewer appointments thanks to the in-app guidance. Though these innovations are still in their infancy, it seems likely that the data collated by smart home devices could also give GPs fresh insight into the reasons for treatment challenges.
Alternative care pathways
Britain’s healthcare is rated for its affordability but has been condemned for a poor record for certain health outcomes – including preventing avoidable deaths.
Technology allows us to build innovative care pathways which may remove delays and provide integrated community care. In the future, it may be possible for GPs to share information with specialist consultants in real time using software that maps out a patient’s body and symptoms. This could help the NHS to compete with other nations in western Europe in areas such as cancer care.
The rise of digital GP appointments
One such alternative care pathway could be the rise of the digital GP. This may help to boost survival rates by enabling speedy cancer referrals – in theory, patients could be referred to a specialist before they have even visited their doctor.
This type of treatment comes with risk, however, which is why GPs of the future may need a more robust form of medical indemnity from a specialist provider such as the Medical Defense Society. After all, there could be more scope for practitioners to be misled or for symptoms to be missed in virtual appointments.
The digital future isn’t all risk, though – AI can detect skin cancer better than a doctor, after all.
Regrowing damaged body parts
An ageing population is likely to present fresh demands in coming decades. Hip replacements and other types of age-related surgery are likely to become more commonplace.
Luckily, new developments in bio-printing are making it easier than ever to create new joints for surgery. Growing replacement tissue is next on the medical radar – so watch out for lab-grown skin grafts and even organs in the future.
The rise of immunotherapy
The immune system is becoming a priority in medicine, especially since it has been linked to cancer outcomes and the obesity epidemic.
Immunotherapy is tipped to become a huge weapon for cancer treatment, with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy and the potential to treat the previously untreatable.
Building the foundations of nanomedicine
The fusion of nanotechnology and medicine may be the most significant step of the coming decade. Because nanomaterials can have such different properties to the organs and tissues they make up, scientists may be able to develop innovative treatments with them.
This fluidity of characteristics is the perfect aid for precision diagnosis; a machine that could harness the power of the changing colours or characteristics of nanoparticles would be a gift to practitioners. Nanostructures may also help us to edit gene expressions and could revolutionise the way cancer is treated.
By 2030, we can certainly expect the medical sphere to look very different – both in terms of medical treatments and the operational structures needed to administer them.