A knee prosthesis produced by a 3D printer or a robot performing surgery are no longer story material for science fiction movies. In the last few years, there have been spectacular achievements in the field of medicine. We have introduced you to various of these developments on our blog over the past year and have already written about Dr. Google, wearables in healthcare and Medicine 4.0.
However, major advancements of tomorrow’s medicine still lie ahead. Medicine and technology merge with one another more and more in the era of digitalization. The human is at the heart of it all – due to highly developed high-tech solutions not only as a patient, doctor or nursing staff but also as a part of the algorithms. Medicine is becoming more individual and precise, which still does not make it less complicated.
The following 5 current trends accompany us on the way to the medicine of the future.
- Dr. Robot
Keyword accuracy: Dr. Robot has been part of many German hospitals for a long time now, for example helping doctors with tasks such as tissue removal (biopsy) to ensure a precise removal of the sample. The machine is capable to maneuver the needle in a rapid and precise manner, which normally is time-consuming and quite a struggle. The doctor then positions the biopsy needle and the robot sets it. In this way, moving it unintentionally is out of the question.
Nanobots are another revolutionary development – a Nanobot is, so to speak, a doctor the size of a pill, which goes into the patient’s body for a checkup. These machines, which are as big as cells, stimulate bone formation and mark tumor cells. Although the development of micro-robots has just started, they should be able to contribute to the cure of cancer in the future.
- Intelligent Diagnosis
Machine learning and intelligent systems are of great importance not only in a digital factory. Artificial intelligence is also an essential factor in the field of medicine. With the help of data collection and analysis, irregularities are filtered out which contributes to the early detection of diseases like e.g. Parkinson’s or facilitates the detection of pharmacological interactions during medication intake.
Human spare parts produced by a 3D printer – that still does sound like science-fiction. Just think of the many successes of the German Paralympics athletes who are active in sports and can take part in normal life thanks to leg prostheses. Innovative prostheses accumulate energy and can be moved by muscle impulses.
In the future, 3D printers can also be used otherwise. Research teams are currently working on producing human skin, which can directly be printed on a wound.
- Big Data
The large datasets that are now available are the foundation for tomorrow’s medicine. This is why, in comparison to the past, the patient plays a more important role now. Clean eating and healthy living are the big trends of our time. Both wearables and health related apps are part of a healthy lifestyle and enable us to control our health and even forward data to our health insurance and doctors. Thus, higher priority is being attached to health provision. However, from a data protection point of view the demands are also increasing and the large data volumes pose risks for personal privacy.
- Personalized Medicine
The four first-mentioned trends culminate in a new super trend in the health care system: the personalized medicine. Nowadays, as a result of technical innovations, it is possible to develop personalized treatment methods and produce medication for individual patients that are perfectly coordinated with each body, hence the side-effects are rarer. So far, there are only 50 personalized medications on the market, with this figure set to increase in future.
Accordingly, the journey towards the medicine of the future promises to remain exciting. Just like the digitalization in our everyday life, many of these trends initially seem unimaginable – be that as it may, in a few years they will likely be widespread treatment methods. However, one thing must not be forgotten: In the end, tomorrow’s medicine and all of its revolutionary innovations shouldn’t be measured by the greatest possible generated excitement and attention, but it should be measured by the effect it has. Ultimately, it is medicine’s duty to heal people and decrease suffering – not to hit the headlines.
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