How will today’s healthcare systems change in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Confluent revolutions in biology and computer science will have profound effects on healthcare worldwide. New monitoring technologies will facilitate earlier diagnosis, precision treatment plans, and lower healthcare costs, while new understanding of the human genome and immune system will allow for better medicines and the empowerment of patients. Simultaneous revolutions in biology and technology, especially computer science, have created new devices, such as biometric sensors, that will disrupt the existing healthcare system along four major themes: speed of care, ability to manage illness, role of patients, and relationship between healthcare and stake holders. New technology will bring new medicines to patients much faster. Innovation emerging in the nascent technological revolution will facilitate the universal digitization of medical records, biometric technology, and advances in medicinal knowledge, leading to new, better medicines and faster care for patients. New technology and advances in life sciences will allow physicians to manage chronic illnesses more effectively. As the convergence of the life science and biology revolutions develops, physicians will be able to diagnose illness much faster, apply personalized treatment plans, and monitor the progress of patients in real time. Universal connectivity and greater access to information will empower patients to take a greater role in their healthcare. As patients become better armed with their own research they will demand to be part of the conversation on their treatment plans. New technology could disrupt the existing relationship between healthcare providers and their stakeholders. Technological revolutions are inherently disruptive to existing systems. If the healthcare systems evolve through the life sciences and biology revolutions the relationship between healthcare providers and their stakeholders must evolves as well. Data will be the underlying theme behind changes to healthcare over the next five years. The convergence of the two nascent revolutions will facilitate the collection of more data on both the body and brain than ever before. From this data innovations in multiple healthcare sectors, such as the medical research, patient care, hospital infrastructure, and pharmaceuticals, will emerge. New data will allow for large leaps forward in medical research. For example, medical researches stand on the threshold of breakthroughs in the human genome. Greater quantities of relevant data on the human genome could allow for innovations that will allow physicians to predict illnesses before they happen. New technology will improve monitoring of patients, applying personalized treatment plans, and predictive medicine. For example, the digitization of the immune system would facilitate the application of personalized medicine. Moreover, biometric devices, could lead to scanning systems that fill the void between physician consultations, allowing for early treatment and prevention of chronic illnesses. Faster and more widespread connectivity will have a profound impact on hospital infrastructure. The panel predicts that 5g technologies will begin to emerge in the coming year and will become widespread in the next few. At the same time the ability split networks, or to create a slice of a mobile network available solely to a specific hospital, will increase the connectivity speed of hospitals a thousand times over. 5G and network slicing will decrease latency from 50 milliseconds to 1 millisecond, allowing for groundbreaking medical procedures such as remote robotic surgery, provided that security and privacy is properly protected. Better data on our bodies and brains will allow pharmaceutical researchers to develop new, better medicines. For example, in the next five years researchers could unlock the cure for cancer or the key to fighting obesity as long as the data collected is not hidden away in unreachable silos. Emerging technologies will decrease healthcare inequality. Faster and more widespread connectivity, as well as new medical technologies will allow world-class healthcare to be provided to more people for less money. New technology will decrease the cost of healthcare worldwide. Almost two-thirds of healthcare costs come from noncommunicable diseases, like cancer and heart failure, which if caught early can be treated more effectively and for less cost. New technology, especially biometric sensors, will allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment, saving billions of dollars in in-patient chronic treatments. High-speed connectivity will facilitate the creation of equal quality healthcare in both urban and rural areas. Currently, the greatest impediment to healthcare in rural areas is lack of connectivity, which can be solved with 5g networks. Moreover, the ability to create a universal patient record at the population and individual leaders will decrease inequality.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.