This year, the World Economic Forum was dominated with talk of healthcare’s high-tech revolution, from lab bench to bedside… and not a “robot” in sight.
The digital revolution is commonly associated with communications and information, characterised by the internet, digital coms, social media and the industries these have created and supported. Now change is happening behind the scenes and, according to world leaders, we are on the cusp of a digital healthcare revolution, from lab bench to bedside.
Robots have served as the poster kids for pharmaceutical advancement for years, offering precision in manufacturing, optimum hygiene in controlled environments and efficiencies humans alone could never achieve. Such work will remain vital, however, the bots are now being joined by other machines, built on AI to mine information, analyse data and reveal new insights.
It’s unlikely the local doctor’s office will be entirely staffed by robots by 2020, but it isn’t impossible. However, while AI and robotics grab the headlines, it is data that underpins the revolution.
Delegates at the World Economic Forum in January heard about three game-changing trends that will emerge in 2018. IoT connected smart devices – wearables that gather data – will allow for “critical, real-world context” and a deeper understanding of a patient’s quality of life. The revolution will penetrate research and diagnostics, with AI and robotics implemented to better identify new insights from clinical trials and, crucially, it will see the creation of “data lakes”, facilitating the centralisation of decades of clinical trials, in order to better interpret the findings.
It isn’t just healthcare that will feel the benefits – society will too. In the treatment of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, for example, the same approach will no longer be prescribed for all patients.
Instead, medicine will be targeted and personalised, based on the patient’s own DNA and their body’s response, through advanced diagnostics and new delivery systems. In future, it will be possible for AI to use a patient’s genome to recommend treatment options that will serve them best while limiting or even eliminating side effects. Imagine the impact on life expectancy and survival rates.
The likes of Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and Hitachi are all developing healthcare AI programmes, and their success will pave the way for the first wave of change.
Far from replacing doctors, for the first time, this will allow the global network of medical professionals connect and share their data, findings, and experience, and delegate the responsibility of analysing these to AI. The bottom line will be faster diagnostics¸ superior treatment and even more data for the benefit of future patients.
The future of data and technology in healthcare will be explored during the PEVC Summit. For more details, contact [email protected]