The medical and healthcare sectors are in the midst of rapid change, and it can be difficult to see which new technologies will have a long-lasting impact.
Ideally, the future of healthcare will balance innovative medical technologies with the human touch. Here, I've outlined the trends most likely to change our lives, now or in the near future.
Augmented reality becomes real
Google Glass has already been used to live-stream a surgery, from the surgeon's perspective. Such augmented reality devices will in the future be able to display the patient's electronic medical records real-time, organize live consultations and call the ambulance to the exact GPS location in emergency situations.
While Google Glass can be controlled through voice and hand gestures, digital contact lenses will be controlled with brain waves. Patients could go through an upcoming operation step-by-step via virtual reality or choose a hospital based on its "virtual experience" package.
Artificial intelligence in medical decision-making
The knowledge of even the most acclaimed professors cannot compete with cognitive computers. The amount of medical information is growing exponentially, and the use of such solutions in assisting medical decision-making is inevitable.
IBM's supercomputer "Watson" can process over 200 million pages in one second and is being used by more and more institutions.
Nanorobots in the bloodstream
For years, nanotechnology has presented the possibility of using nanotech devices in treating diseases. Now, it is time for nanotechnology to live up to expectations. Nanorobots in the bloodstream could intervene even before the disease appears. They could keep tissues safely oxygenated after a heart attack, specifically target cancer cells, or remove platelets.
Eventually, modules that self-assemble inside the stomach could perform more sophisticated diagnosis and treatment.
The 3D printing revolution comes to medicine
As 3D printing becomes mainstream, it will upend the pharmaceutical industry and the world of biotechnology -- although regulation will be a challenge.
3D printing will enable the creation of medical devices in underdeveloped areas, and customize prostheses and exoskeletons. It will also enable the production of biomaterials such as kidney or heart tissues, drugs and eventually living cells.
Printing out organs that can replace a non-functioning organ in its full physiological capacity will eradicate waiting lists.
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