8 Awesome Upcoming Health Technologies – How to Become Superhuman
In many ways, the advancement of healthcare is a trustworthy indicator of humanity’s development as a whole. This is because healthcare is one of the earliest beneficiaries of new technology. Today, technologies such as the internet, electronic health records, smartphones and wearables are making huge impacts on the healthcare sector. As tech rapidly advances over the next decade, expect even more positive improvements in healthcare.
It will become easier to diagnose and treat diseases, especially the challenging ones like cancer. Even more importantly, it will greatly improve health monitoring and preventive care. Instead of treating a disease after it has already struck, doctors and patients can detect health problems in their early stages and apply preventive care.
Another big healthcare improvement we expect to see in the coming years, and which is already happening, is personal health. Wearables have been especially crucial in creating the personal health boom. Using devices such as fitness bands, people can track their fitness, heart rate and general health. Other devices allow people to test for things like blood sugar at home. As the quality and accuracy of home testing kits improve, people will become more proactive in managing their own health.
In our article, we discuss 8 upcoming healthcare technologies that we think are going to make a big impact. If we have left out any notable one, feel free to mention it in the comments at the end.
1. Advanced Prosthetics
In today’s world, the disabled are usually at a disadvantage. Even having traditional prosthetics fitted does not put them at par with the full abled. But that is likely to change in the near future.
The field of prosthetics has experienced phenomenal development in the last few years. Experts have created prosthetics that closely resemble actual organs in form. But the real challenge has been giving prosthetics recipients the organ function they lost. Limited improvements have been made in this area but a lot still remains to be done.
The aim, eventually, is to create prosthetics that function just like real organs and then some. Researchers have been able to create smart prosthetics that can move and hold objects more intelligently. There are even prosthetics that can be controlled via a smartphone. But what is coming in the future is much bigger and more amazing.
Researchers are working towards prosthetics that can be integrated into the body’s own nervous system. Patients will be able to control prosthetic arms and legs just by thinking, as if they were actual organs.
Additionally, they will be able to feel through the prosthetics. You will be able to feel the soft skin on someone’s face or the rough texture of a rock. In a few decades, it might actually be impossible to distinguish between a prosthetic and an actual organ.
Prosthetics will be designed as an integral part of the body, looking and functioning almost like real organs.
2. Artificial Intelligence
There has been a renewed focus on AI by tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple. But artificial intelligence is not confined just to smartphones with programs like Cortana and Siri, it has spread to many other industries. Healthcare has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of AI development.
One area where AI could prove helpful is in handling the massive amounts of data generated in the healthcare industry. By analyzing this data in different contexts, AI programs can help health professionals make better decisions. There are already programs that have been developed with this goal in mind. One example is Google DeepMind Healthcare, which uses medical records to improve healthcare.
The famous IBM Watson has been used by doctors to sift through clinical notes and reports and suggest effective treatment plans.
In large hospitals where thousands of tasks need to be completed on a daily basis, researchers are looking into the possibility of assigning repetitive tasks to artificial intelligence programs. This will greatly improve time and cost efficiency.
Another interesting area that AI is proving helpful is in patient consultation. In the near future, AI programs could become the first line of diagnosis. You may not even have to go to the hospital. Just go online and interact with an AI program.
Once you specify your symptoms, it uses the huge amount of data at its disposal and your medical records to suggest a possible diagnosis and course of action.
Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin; these are just some of the many wearables to hit the market in recent times. As we mentioned in the beginning, wearables have greatly boosted people’s participation in their own health. People can now take accurate readings of their heart rate and track they physical fitness.
Away from fitness-focused wearables, there are plenty of other devices you can use for general health monitoring. Some examples include real time blood pressure monitors worn on the wrist, smart hearing aids and smart clothing wearables to measure things like heart rate and breathing.
In the near future, we expect to see a range of smart wearables enter the market. People will be able to stay aware of their health status, thus greatly improving preventive care and easing treatment. These wearables will have the ability to monitor a wide range of body conditions including calories burned, blood pressure and even stress levels.
4. Home Testing Kits
Unlike a few years ago, today you do not have to go to the hospital to get tested for an STD. You just need to buy a kit online, take a sample and send it back for testing. It is not just STDs. Companies are coming up with numerous home test kits for different diseases.
You can buy a blood sugar test kit, a colon cancer testing kit and test kits for various other diseases. In the coming years, it will become possible to test for many more disease at home and at a much lower cost. As with wearables, this will greatly boost personal health and help in preventive care especially for diseases like cancer.
The challenge for companies will be producing quality tests that deliver accurate results outside of a lab setting.
Away from diseases, we have also seen a rise in genetic testing kits. Companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com sell home DNA testing kits that can be used to test for ancestry and genealogy. You can trace your recent familial history and learn the genetic-related health risks you are exposed to. Additionally, you can uncover your lineage going back for generations.
With wearables and home testing kits, what we are seeing is people wielding more power over their own health. It may come with certain hazards and risks but we cannot deny the huge potential benefits that humanity stands to reap.
5. Remote monitoring
Remote monitoring is another area that has been touted as one of the biggest developments in healthcare. Using remote monitoring, the health status of an individual is monitored by sensors (often in the form of wearables) and recorded information is sent wirelessly to the doctor. This information includes things like heart rate, fitness level, blood sugar, breathing rate, body temperature and so on. The doctor can then monitor the patient’s vitals without requiring a physical meetup.
Remote monitoring is especially beneficial for elderly, disabled and gravely ill patients. Frequent trips to the hospital can be taxing on them. Remote monitoring allows them to stay home while still enjoying medical supervision. Most importantly, it allows the doctor and caretakers to keep an eye out for any serious developments that require urgent action. With fewer hospital visits required, it also helps lower medical costs.
Remote monitoring will continue to be a major focus for tech companies in the coming years. We are going to see more advanced sensors that can keep track of almost anything in an individual’s body. For patients with chronic illnesses, those sensors could be coupled with remote drug delivery devices. For instance, after a sensor detects that a patient in pain, another imbedded device or wearable could deliver the require dose of pain medication.
6. VR for Healthcare
At first glance, there is no way virtual reality could have any applications in healthcare. Maybe gaming, entertainment and education; but there is no way it could be used to boost health, or so you might think.
In what is being referred to as virtual reality exposure therapy or VRET, health professionals are using virtual reality to treat a range of mental health conditions. VR could be used in stress management, PTSD treatment, anxiety and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Currently, the effectiveness of VR in mental therapy is still under research but the results so far are promising. In the future, virtual reality devices could supplement traditional therapies. For serious cases like PTSD, treatment will have to be administered under strict expert supervision. In other cases such as stress relief, people will be able to do it themselves at home through VR apps.
Mental therapy treatments are often expensive and take long to create positive results. Virtual reality could help lower treatment costs while improving mental health treatment. But before we get there, tech companies have to figure out how to make VR devices affordable for the ordinary person. Away from mental therapy, VR has other medical uses including;
- Creating a comfortable virtual environment for kids in the hospital.
- Providing doctors with perception of life as elderly patients, which helps improve doctor-patient interaction and quality of treatment.
- Helping stroke victims regain the use of their arms and fingers for faster rehabilitation.
7. 3D Organ Printing
To hear a health professional talk about 3D printing, you would think it is the next big revolution in healthcare. But it actually is. For decades, needy patients had to pay a lot of money and wait for ages to get an organ transplant. Healthy viable organs are naturally scarce and the waiting list is endless. But what if we did not have to get that kidney or liver from another human being? What if we could just print it out?
This is the premise of 3D printing. Through an advanced 3D printer, experts can print out major organs like the kidney, liver and heart and give them function similar to actual organs. If you need a kidney transplant, your new kidney might come from a 3D printer, not another human. If your heart is experiencing trouble, you might just get another one from a printer.
The impact of 3D printing in healthcare will be huge. Shortage of replacement organs will be a thing of the past. Even more importantly, patients do not have to deal with the risk of organ rejection, forcing them to take drugs their entire lives. The doctor will be able to print an organ that is perfect for you in every way.
3D printing will also play a major role in the already-mentioned prosthetics industry. Prosthetics can be 3D-printed to fit a specific individual in terms of fit, function and form. If we can print a heart, there is nothing to stop us from printing a real-looking arm complete with real-looking skin covering it.
Aging is often referred to as the biggest unconquered disease. Naturally, experts have been at work for centuries trying to find the elixir of immortality. Different solutions have been proposed, some innovative and others downright crazy.
It is obvious that even with a great diet and excellent fitness, human can barely live past 70-100 years. Defeating aging will require coming up with a pill. This is what experts have been busy doing. In numerous experiments and tests on mice, anti-aging technology has proven quite effective. But these tests have yet to be done on humans.
But advancements in the fields of prosthetics, bio-renovation (replacing old blood with young one) and gene editing are quite promising. While we may not live forever, we could extend human lifespan. With a pill, you might be able to lift weight and run marathons at a hundred.
Effective anti-aging medication also means the end of age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Upcoming Health Technologies
Modern medicine has helped eradicate smallpox while providing vaccines and treatments for a multitude of other diseases. Future medicine will accomplish so much more. It will eradicate most human diseases, boost lifespans and potentially create super humans.
What healthcare advancements are you most excited to see in your lifetime? Leave your comment below.