In a recent Kelly webinar, Prof. Dr. Koen Kas explores a future where sickcare has become healthcare, asking:
“Can we build a world where health is standard?”
This in-depth look at the future of healthcare examines some of the biggest innovations in the industry today, asking what these changes mean for the ways we think about health and wellness, access medical services, and evolve practices across the sector. It’s a fascinating look, not only at the extraordinary technical innovation happening right now but at changes in attitude – from treatment-led philosophies to a focus on prevention and overall wellness.
You can catch the webinar on our YouTube channel (it’s a great lunch break watch) and we’ve brought together 5 of the biggest trends that Koen discusses, below.
1. Genomics is helping to determine future health
Genetic testing and DNA analysis used to be an incredibly long and expensive process. Now, anyone can have their genetic profile analysed quickly and at a reasonably low price. This is arming medical professions with more information about their patients than ever before – from understanding how quickly they are likely to metabolise a certain drug to the probability of developing certain cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and other conditions. This could mean that people can make preventative lifestyle changes (where possible) and even access treatments that are refined to match their genetic profile.
2. Smart monitors are identifying potential health issues
Heart rate and step monitors are nothing new – many of us wear a smartwatch every day. But this technology is evolving all the time and it’s providing unique insights into our health. Some are targeted at at-risk groups, like sensors that measure dehydration in older people and prompt them to drink water through a specially designed 3D-printed bottle, or smart pills that can notify a patient or carer when a dose has been missed. Other examples include wearable fertility tech and wireless blood pressure and temperature monitors that relay information back to an app or healthcare professional.
3. Patient experience is everything
To create healthier communities, medical providers are helping patients to actively engage with their own health. This can be challenging when procedures are painful, invasive, or a group has traditionally avoided medical support. A US clinic took an imaginative approach to this issue – changing the design of their prostate clinic to feel more like a sports den than a doctor’s office to improve engagement with male patients. While technological advances, like a pill that can take images of the bowel on its passage through the body and avoid an invasive colonoscopy, are taking some of the fear out of medical testing. Even small changes can make a big difference; technology that harnesses near-infrared light to identify veins can lead to shorter and less painful blood tests.
4. High tech is meeting the everyday
As technology gets more ingrained in our lives, it becomes more invisible and this can mean that we are monitoring health and promoting fitness and wellbeing intuitively. In China, Nestlé released an app that allowed users to snap pictures of their meals and make personalised vitamin recommendations based on their content. While wearables are always evolving – smart bras are one example of this trend, notifying wearers of changes that could indicate early-stage breast cancer.
5. Great health is becoming incentivised
Some companies and communities are going further in their mission to improve overall health by adding tangible incentives to working out or living a healthy lifestyle. The squat-to-ride machine, introduced in Moscow as part of the Sochi Winter Olympics, saw commuters performing 30 squats for a free ride on the subway. But what may seem like a marketing ploy is gradually becoming part of everyday life. Some banks have released fitness-based accounts that offer increased interest rates when customers take a certain number of steps, and a number of life insurers are tying fitness tracker results to reduced premiums.
If you’re looking to add a little high tech to your wellness routine, Koen recommends taking a look at apps.healthskouts.com. This website brings together a list of certified healthcare tools that could improve your health and fitness. Don’t forget to check out Koen’s complete talk on our YouTube channel or explore our other videos to find out more about how we support life sciences talent and organisations around the globe.