The future is often weirder than fiction. Nowhere is this more the case than in medicine: Patients from the Victorian era would be dumbfounded – maybe downright scared – of going under a laser, being shoved into an MRI machine, or even just riding in an ambulance. Take a look at some of the things in medicine that could blow our minds (and fix our bodies) in the next ten years…
- Robots make surgery zipper scars a thing of the past
- Medication tailored to a person’s individual genome
- Blasting brain tumours with particle accelerator light
- Medicine in Zero-G, on other worlds
- All-electronic medical records, everywhere
- Electronic, networked test results
- Robots making up half to 75% of the nursing workforce
- Pre-programmed ailments and complex situations in robots to train medical staff
- Self-serve diagnosis
- Systems biology saves the day
- Telesurgery comes-of-age
- Holographic autopsies
- Minority Report-style data manipulation
- Star Trek-style portable diagnostic tools
- Artificial intelligence for diagnosis
Beings like Carnegie Mellon snake bot can poke through your abdomen, and cut, clamp or cauterize organs, making recovery from things like heart surgery a matter of a few days, with nothing but a tiny pockmark to show for it.
Since the sequencing of the human genome in the summer of 2000, hopes have been way up to bring to market medication that’s custom-designed for your unique genetics.Computer technology and growing familiarity with genomics will likely make this reality before 2019.
Imagine a device the size of a small sports stadium, focused on zapping cancer out of you. Sounds like a new way to die, but in reality, such devices – called synchrotrons – are already capable of focusing and dialling-down their intense light (like Cyclops from X-Men) to do good, in this case, pinpointing and eradicating tumours.
It’s bound to be the case that more and more people are going to need medical treatment in space: From routine care on low Earth orbit missions and vacations, to emergency surgery on the Moon and even Mars. We’ll also likely start learning a lot about how the human body heals in space as a result of these inevitable 911-moments in the final frontier.
Decades in the making, this is technically possible now and just about to reach critical mass in the developed world. Amazingly, one of the last facets of society that remains relatively uncomputerized, watch for this to change-over worldwide within the next decade.
Robots are already being deployed on a test basis as caregivers in hospitals across the globe. Could more advanced versions replace human tech or nursing staff in situations where the job is especially dull, dirty or dangerous?
Much like self-serve check-outs in big-box stores, such computer kiosks could let people deliver detailed information beyond the waiting room clipboard that doctors can use to get a quicker sense of what’s bothering a patient, leading to shorter visits and speedier treatment.
This science that combines empirical, mathematical and computational techniques to understand complex problems of biology will likely be a household – er, “labhold” – term in the medical community in the next decade, paving the way for medical breakthroughs we can scarcely imagine now.
Watch in the next decade for the world’s top surgeons to work their magic across the world from the comfort of their own hospital.
Combining the latest fMRI technology with force-feedback devices and holographic corpses will allow for just such an autopsy in cases where policy, religion, or other logistics would normally prevent one.
Another case where the technology already exists, the next ten years will likely see a clear winner emerge in the battle for a standard software (or two) to be used by medical professionals worldwide, as well as the needed common acceptance of such an operating system.
Watch for such tools to make their way into emergency rooms, operating rooms and even replace bulky MRI-type machines in some cases in the next 10 years.
People who complain about their doctor’s bedside manner will probably make up much of the early adopters of computer-built medical minds to mend their troubles. The question is, in the future, will computerized doctors be able to fill out a prescription legibly?