Imagine an ambulance that uses augmented reality and other technology to share vital patient details with hospitals and doctors, in real time. This advancement would be of huge benefit to patients and could be a reality within the next decade, according to our expert panel. Intelligent ambulances are hyperconnected ambulances that use 5G, the internet of things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR) to connect the vehicle and patient with the hospital and other professionals. Additionally, high-resolution video calling between the ambulance and hospital will give doctors a better understanding of the kind of emergency involved and allow them to prepare for what the patient will need on arrival.
Artificial intelligence (AI) doctors
Triage consultations could become virtual, and initial appointments done by a supercomputer, which will then refer the patient to the most qualified available expert for an appointment. These ‘AI doctors’ may also be able to offer advice and prescribe repeat prescriptions. It’s likely this would initially be offered by SMEs as a private but cost-efficient service, before being rolled out on a much larger scale.
Smart toilets that can analyse urine and faeces for signs of diabetes or cancer are just starting to come to market, and within the next 10 to 15 years it’s likely at-home consumer demand will increase. Tom Cheesewright predicts that not everyone will want one straight away, but that they are likely to grow in popularity as the technology gets smarter, with businesses emerging to sell, install and service them.
Smart skin clinics
Wearable technology will communicate with electronics on, or even inserted into, the skin. Close proximity to blood capillaries and nerves will enable these smart wearables to provide constant and precise monitoring of blood chemistry and nervous system activity. ‘Smart skin’ will also help meet the demand for medical staff. This means not only will patients get accurate diagnostics fast but also that those with more critical conditions can receive more time with a doctor to diagnose and find solutions more effectively.
Barrie Davison, National Sector Head of Healthcare at NatWest, observes: “NatWest is already seeing demand from businesses offering specialised services that maintain us in health, rather than fix us when we are ill or suffering from long-term conditions. The incentive is to live longer, healthier lives.”
3D-printed organ production
Organ donation waiting lists could be a thing of the past 15 years from now, says Shivvy Jervis, who predicts that 3D printing may evolve enough to be able to replicate human organs from a patient’s own cells. Within the next 15 years it’s highly likely that we can expect to see businesses using 3D laser-printing technology to create safe, legally approved yet lab-grown human organs and tissues.
In the UK it is now estimated that there are thousands of people living with a spinal cord injury. University College London has recently created and successfully tested a mind-controlled exoskeleton that has allowed people not only to walk again, but to use their arms as well. While it’s currently in the testing phase and needs improvements, it can be expected to be much more effective and accessible in the next 10 to 15 years.
The development and research of a new drug takes a decade on average. Future businesses will both lower the risks involved and accelerate valuable drugs development, halving the time they take to reach the market. These biosimulator businesses will create AI platforms that predict the clinical outcomes of new drugs, helping to get medical solutions to those that need it the most and are anxiously awaiting a cure.