Medical robots, neural networks, telemedicine – modern technologies are becoming more and more diverse and perfect. Some of them are already having a serious impact on medicine.
Several trends can be identified that will determine the appearance of medicine in the coming decades. For example, technologies for prosthetics of individual parts of the body and human organs are now actively developing. It is appropriate to mention the startup of the American billionaire Elon Musk Neuralink, which is developing a chip with electrodes designed to be implanted in the brain. It is a tool for the timely detection and treatment of serious brain diseases. Such technologies will penetrate our lives more and more deeply.
Neural network technologies deserve special attention. They can already provide serious assistance, for example, in screening and diagnosing patients. In the future, neural networks will probably be able not only to diagnose, but also to predict human diseases.
Today you can hear forecasts that robots will soon replace representatives of different professions. Doctors are also mentioned. Right now, it’s hard to imagine a humanoid robot performing complex surgery instead of a human surgeon. But the development of medical robotics is in full swing. Robots are already used in minimally invasive operations, when a doctor, using the appropriate interface, controls the limb of the robot. This makes it possible to reduce injuries and improve the clinical outcome of operations. Over the next 20 years, this trend is likely to continue. We’ll face improved interfaces, development of new neural network software using augmented reality, but the main issue will still be the joint work of a person and a robot.
Another long-playing trend is telemedicine. Covid-19 and post-covid times have shown that there is indeed a demand for remote medical consultations, and it is quite high. According to the GuideMarket agency, the volumes of this market grew in 2020 by 112%, in 2021 – by 61%, in 2022 – by 20%. According to the order of the Ministry of Digital Development, by 2030 the total number of all online consultations should reach 50%, that is, the state is also interested in the development of this technology. This means that the field of telemedicine will certainly develop.
Medicine of the future
Regardless of which doctors will use technology in the coming decades, the medical industry is waiting for a number of important changes of a global nature.
First, medicine will become more personalized. General recommendations from a doctor will no longer be enough. Individualized medicine takes into account dozens of parameters and indicators, such as food and drug intolerance, genetic factors and predisposition, body mass index and much more. The personalized approach in medicine produces better results than the traditional one.
Secondly, the emphasis in medical practice will be on the fight against stress. According to surveys, 80% of employable Russians say that the level of stress and uncertainty is now higher than ever. Stress has an impact on sleep, family relationships and communication with other people. Urban hustle, work in huge offices and a steady stream of digital information are causing constant stress that can affect our health, including heart problems and headaches.
Faced with stress, people will increasingly resort to traditional methods of normalizing their condition, such as yoga and meditation, for example. Modern technology will increasingly help in the fight against stress. In particular, the popularity of applications that measure stress levels by heart rhythm and assess the quality of sleep will increase.
Finally, a boom in medical tourism awaits us in the near future. The difference in the cost, quality and availability of health services in different countries and globalization will make overseas visits in order to obtain health services more widespread.
A New Approach to Patients
Over time, not only technology will change, but also the attitude of doctors towards patients. Now more clinics are striving for a patient-centered approach. In this paradigm, the patient and his environment are active participants in the treatment process. Together with the team of doctors, goals are set. The interaction with the patient itself has a high level of accessibility and coordination, and the physical and emotional comfort of the patient becomes a leading priority. By the way, in order to respond to trends, educational institutions must now begin training patient-centered medical specialists.
The motto of medical institutions should be such a postulate: “Health care based on values.” Under this model, hospital funding depends on patient health outcomes. Changing the funding approach will focus on treatment outcomes and on the patients themselves, reducing the effects of chronic diseases and increasing the perception of health.
Today, medical organizations are striving to get rid of bureaucracy and implement a single patient database. Smart medicine and smart hospitals are something we have to deal with more and more often. Smartphones, apps and tablets are already being used in private and some city clinics, allowing patients to access records, prescriptions and recommendations. Smart hospitals will form an ecosystem whose goal is to improve business processes. Key development factors can be: improving the quality of medical services, control, more active involvement of the patient in the treatment process and creating the value of treatment with the effectiveness of financial investments.
Despite the development of technology and a change in the approach to patients, the medical industry will face a number of problems in the coming years. It is advisable for the state – in conjunction with the expert community and business – to start solving them now in order to avoid negative consequences in the future.
1. Lack of medical staff
The population is aging, the number of patients with chronic diseases is increasing, while the shortage of doctors and nurses is already being felt.
2. Uneven distribution of health services
In different regions of the country, the shortage of medical staff is felt in different ways, hence access to services in different regions for different segments of the population can be uneven.
It will be harder and more expensive to provide health care, as the number of people in need of it will only grow.
More people suffer from lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Scientific research may be difficult due to ethical and legal limitations, which may slow progress in medical technology and treatment.
The above problems are already beginning to manifest themselves. For example, in Tatarstan alone, the shortage of doctors is over 10%, healthcare expenses in the country are growing, and Rosstat specialists predict a record figure for the number of elderly people by 2057.
By Yan Nguyen, Director of the School of Medicine at Synergy University, winner of an MBA degree in International Health Systems Management (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management) and an MSc degree in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (Vincent Pol University)