22 January 2020
Just 20 years into the 21st Century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We’ve come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organisation.
By 2040, our approach to healthcare will have shifted from a reactive to a preventative one. The use of multiple sources of bio and behavioural data will radically transform health, supporting our wellness and enabling proactive interventions at the earliest possible moment, often before something is wrong.
Body sensors, from wearables such as smart watches to digestible and implantable devices, are already commonplace. But the role of IoT, data and AI in human health is now set to expand dramatically and there will be a significant shift from data collection to actionable insight.
Emotion sensors will enable healthcare professionals to track people’s state of mind and to identify mental health issues in real-time. AI will be applied to data on individuals’ behaviours, from their social media posts to their physical activity, which could enable early interventions and prevent health issues from progressing.
Elsewhere, advances in medical technology and connected devices will exploit the physical environment of our homes. Smart fridges – and even smart toilets – will constantly collect health and wellness data. Along with the streams of information from personal wearables and sensors, these inputs will feed into user-friendly and affordable health platforms that monitor and nudge every aspect of people’s wellbeing round the clock in real-time. This AI-enabled health coach will enable remote monitoring and help people to identify any nutritional deficiencies and other potential health conditions earlier on, increasing the likelihood of recovery and connecting to the right care professionals at the right time, via telehealth or in person as needed.
Similarly, while precision medicine is already emerging, it will be routine for some conditions in 2030 and ubiquitous by 2040. This micro-personalised medical approach will draw data from external sources to build a comprehensive picture of circumstance, taking into account an individual’s variability in genes, to recommend the best medical approach. This will not only avoid harmful side effects and ensure better outcomes, but also avoid the cost of unsuccessful treatments.
With constant monitoring of health and wellness data, the use of AI to identify potential illnesses sooner, and better identification of potential illnesses and treatments for each individual, life expectancy will rise. There will be a shift from health linked to illness towards more holistic wellbeing. We will not eradicate illness and disease, but we will get better at identifying them earlier, increasing our chances of prevention, recovery and survival. The data will increase the likelihood of curing them. It will also enable health systems to move towards value-based care which will fund care based on outcomes.
However, while technology will play a key role in helping us take control of our wellbeing in real-time, there are also challenges ahead. As technology advances into every element of everyday life, the social impact may lead to mental health issues. Obesity, diabetes and other chronic conditions could rise as technology prompts us to lead more sedentary lifestyles, however, behavioural nudges could help address this and stimulate more active lifestyles. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges will be around data privacy and consent and the ethical use and applications of this data. These key issues will need to be addressed by 2040.
Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2040? Read our other predictions
- MedicalDirector, How wearables will revolutionise healthcare, June 2018
- Transparency Market Research, Wearable Medical Devices Market to Surpass US$ 29 Billion by 2026: Transparency Market Research, February 2019
- Existek, IoT in Healthcare: Use Cases, Trends, Advantages and Disadvantages, August 2019
- Black Dog Institute, Technology and the future of mental health, March 2018
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