With emerging technology comes a new phase in healthcare: prevention first, treatment second.
The significant progress made in medical science during the past centuries has meant that we can now treat a wide range of chronic conditions. Examples of such conditions, which were often certain death sentences not so long ago, include cancer, dysentery, pneumonia, polio and tuberculosis. Among other developments, we also witnessed the discovery of penicillin, advances in plastic surgery, the invention of the contraceptive pill, which has helped to dramatically improve the health of women, and the increased use of prosthetic implants to replace human body parts.
In the 20th century, we achieved a huge amount in the healthcare space within a comparatively short period of time. However, in the 21st century, we are embarking on a new phase in healthcare – a phase that promises to be even more transformative and at a faster pace than the century that has gone before. In this phase, healthcare services will increasingly be provided on the basis of “prevention first, treatment second”. That’s because consumers increasingly expect to live longer, healthier lives as a result of rising living standards while developments in technology mean that the human body is emerging as an important data platform.
Unlocking the power of human data
There are 37.2 trillion cells in the human body, all of which have specialized functions and can convey unique messages about our health. Increasingly, we will be able to tap into these messages thanks to the development of transformative technologies such as nano science (which has the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules), wearable and implanted sensors, which use 5G technologies to connect with each other and with medical systems in real time. As a result, medical professionals will be able to harness the essential health data that that our cells provide in ways that were never possible before. They will also be able to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to the data that the sensors harness, making it easier to detect cell changes and other potential indicators of disease.
By unlocking the power of human data, medical professionals will gain comprehensive insight into our wellbeing and will have the opportunity to offer tailored personalized health services. For example, they will be able to advise us when we need to make micro decisions such as increase or decrease our medication, or make lifestyle changes for the sake of our health. Even more crucially, they will have the ability to make interventions at an early stage of an illness, preventing the condition from becoming chronic or possibly life-threatening later on.