When brainstorming what to write about, I began to think about what ways technology could possibly best benefit humanity. I believe for many people, including myself, companies relating to shopping and social media automatically come to mind such as Amazon, Twitter, Instagram. Next, companies relating to lifestyle come to mind such as Spotify and Airbnb. The last thing that normally pops in my mind is technology relating to health care, when ironically, this is the technology that could arguably be most important. Technology based health-care companies could be saving our lives so that we can in fact use these other technologies such as Amazon and Google and Apple. In a way, all of these technologies rely on our health. Not to be morbid, but I mean we must in fact be alive and well in order to use their goods and services. You can’t travel and therefore utilize Airbnb if you are not healthy. You will not want to order various items on Amazon if you can’t get out and use them. You can’t subscribe to Spotify and enjoy the music if you can’t hear the music. These tech companies in fact rely on our senses being healthy and in working order because if not, there is no need or even ability to utilize their goods and services. Health care can be a major driving force in the technology world because of its universal impact and need.
Technology in healthcare is a topic not often discussed. However, it has the ability to impact the widest range of people, arguably, than any other technology sector. This is simply because everyone requires some kind of health medications or services in their lifetime. For these reasons, along with the increasing awareness to tech companies in general, I believe tech related health care is on the rise, and Silicon Valley can be a part of it.
Simply by looking at this graph, you can see the dramatic increase of investing in tech health start-ups just in the past years. From 2013 to 2017, it has nearly doubled!
Seemingly endless possibilities
I found an extremely interesting article on this topic of health care intersecting with technology and the resulting possibilities. Here is a highlight of the points that stood out to me.
Firstly, the possible impact of VR on med school and healthcare as a whole is fascinating. The article brings up the how augmented reality can revolutionize medical school. Being able to fully view a life size body in class could change the learning experience entirely, improving the quality of doctors’ education.
The organs-on-chips is another incredible new movement that can more rapidly and efficiently test medicines and perform clinical trials. By imitating real-life human organs through microchips, these organs-on-chips can test the positive and negative effects of various new medications or practices and be able to display the impact just like a human would.
A third technological breakthrough that could alter our whole view of health care is 3D printing of drugs. This could allow for immense personalization because drugs could be altered to people’s specific conditions and requirements. Never again would patients have to adhere to a standard prescription because the best option would be to specify it to individual needs. Both the amount of dosage and the combination of various drugs into one pile is all possible with 3D printing of drugs.
Lastly, the article mentions an Internet of Things for healthcare. Relating to Alexandro’s post, there is a proposal that healthcare might have its own Internet of Things. Having an Internet of Things for specific health care purposes would allow better and more patient specific data. Data is always the most important factor for tech companies and health care tech companies are not excluded. Everyday medical products, such as heart monitors, blood pressure readers, you name it, would have tracking devices and technology to collect data about every detail involved. Hospitals will be smart hospitals in a matter of time.
Additionally, in The Inevitable, a book by Kevin Kelly, there are predictions that the future of technology will eliminate the need for some doctors’ diagnoses entirely. He argues that by comparing the statistics of doctors’ correct diagnoses and computers’ correct diagnoses, computers win by far. He predicts that the future will involve listing your symptoms to a computer or app and then you will receive a diagnosis based on compiled previous data.
What does this mean in the future?
According to Karen Taylor, smart hospitals will exist by 2020 (click here for link to article). She argues that blockchain, bio-telemetry, drug development based on genomics and big data, and virtual rehabilitation will be the four driving forces behind smart hospitals. Each of these forces intentionally collects and utilizes data, therefore, constantly improving because of the network effect. Because of this constant progress, smart hospitals will continuously became, if you will, smarter. They improve themselves and make themselves more efficient naturally. By giving technology more of the work, physicians and health practitioners have more time to be able to spend to innovate even more technologies that will continue this progress. It would be a never-ending cycle of improvement and progress, if used correctly.
How do you feel about possibly visiting a smart hospital as soon as 2020, two years away? In my opinion, the specific issue health practitioners must keep in mind is not taking away that physician – patient relationship. Although there are notably numerous layers of technology and equipment that can easily replicate what a physician can do, such as diagnose or track patient statistics and data, technology will never be able to replicate a physician’s human characteristics. Physicians are able to comfort, help, and show love and kindness. Those attributes are irreplaceable when a patient is faced with a medical emergency. Personally speaking, the multitude of possibilities of breakthroughs due to technology that are on the horizon is unbelievably exciting. The future world is our oyster. However, we must constantly be weary of trying to fully replace doctors with technology because human beings have qualities that are absolutely not replicable.