Much has been written and spoken about how software-based technology, data analytics and connected devices can work together to transform every aspect of business. But now the process of digital transformation is set to have an enormous impact on our health and fitness too. Not only will these advances affect the quality of life for millions, they could also have far-reaching implications for the healthcare sector and employers in general.
Improvements in medicine and nutrition have helped life expectancies increase throughout the last century. But older populations are leading to a greater incidence of degenerative and lifestyle-related health issues. These kinds of non-communicable diseases already account for 75% of deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Tens of millions of people are suffering from these diseases around the world, greatly reducing their quality of life. The economic impact is similarly immense – just five non-communicable diseases could cost the global economy $47 trillion by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum.
So what could digital transformation do to make us healthier, and the health sector fitter? Here are just some of the ways that digital technologies could help us live not just longer, but healthier and more productive lives:
Increased computer processing power is beginning to unlock the true potential of human DNA analysis – enabling truly personalized testing and treatment that could vastly improve patient outcomes for a huge range of diseases.
Smart health monitors that can collect personalized, real-time data, encouraging healthier lifestyles, and collecting reams of data to feed into medical research. Some companies have already introduced wearables into the workplace to boost performance. By monitoring the stress levels and health of their staff, companies can recommend healthier habits, often leading to higher productivity.
3. Big data used in medicine
As more DNA gets analyised, wearables gather more lifestyle data, and medical records are digitized, much more detailed comparative patient analysis becomes possible. Comparing the responses of patients with similar DNA, lifestyles and medical histories can allow us to truly understand health risks and the impact of different treatments.
A combination of advances in DNA sequencing and stem cell research has enabled researchers to grow miniature organs, based on patients’ own DNA. Connected to electronic sensors, they can measure response to treatment at a cellular level to understand which methods will have the most success before applying them to the patient.