Healthcare is changing all the time. However, it is happening in a piecemeal fashion – sometimes so slowly that we can find it hard to perceive it.
Nevertheless, things are changing. We’re moving towards a new model of healthcare that looks radically different from what’s come in the past. Most notably, patients themselves are gaining more control. Doctors aren’t like teachers anymore, commanding what should be done. Instead, they are becoming more like collaborators, working with patients to find the best health outcomes possible, given the constraints of modern medicine.
Stem Cell Cures
Stem cells are cells that have the potential to turn into any tissue in the body. Stem cells, for instance, can become liver cells, pancreatic cells and even new heart cells. In other words, they have regenerative potential.
Right now, researchers are looking for ways to use stem cells to help the millions of people currently living with type 1 diabetes. Currently, the treatment is insulin – replacing the hormone that the pancreas makes. But now trials are underway to see if stem cells can rebuild the organ itself, allowing it to regular blood sugar levels for the patient automatically.
Personalized Assistive Devices
Imagine if you were able to wear a device that would instantly alert doctors about a health problem (such as a heart attack). It would likely make you feel much more comfortable, knowing that help is available.
Well, that is now a reality. We already have bed alarms for dementia patients and dongles that people wear around their necks. And these have sophisticated in-built technology that communicates with medical servers, telling doctors that the patient is in trouble.
Big Data For Our Bodies
We’re also beginning to get to grips with medical-related big data. This source of information is teaching us all how we individually differ from each other, and what’s the same. Using this information, it is becoming possible to read and understand the genome, and then make personalized health recommendations.
Take blood pressure monitors, for instance. Now researchers can check blood pressure levels throughout the day and see how they vary to a degree that simply wasn’t possible before.
It’s also opening up opportunities for more studies. Researchers can take data and then use it for purposes never before conceived. Sleep monitors, for example, provide population-scale data on how the nation is resting at night – something that simply wasn’t possible before.
Going to the chemist or waiting for a conventional delivery van to drop off medication for you takes time. And sometimes, you don’t have it: you need medicines now.
Drone deliveries could change all this. The idea is to equip them with parcels of medicines at local pharmacies and then send them to people’s homes, so long as they have space for the parcel to land.
What’s exciting about this idea is that the technology already exists. Mainly, it is just a matter of putting it into practice. Because of the cost-benefit implications, the FAA and other regulators seem more likely to approve these use-cases, compared to just regular e-commerce.