We are inextricably linked to the digital world; dependent on it for many aspects of our everyday lives, whether it’s booking a holiday on Airbnb, ordering a car through Uber or keeping in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
And we’re using tools that have gradually become more and more portable; from the first laptops to PDAs, from smartphones to wearable devices and even down to devices that can be swallowed.
Thanks to these tools, initially developed for the fitness industry, we are collecting an unprecedented amount of data. Vast networks of information are being processed and used in the healthcare industry to improve our lifestyles and our wellbeing.
However data are very often deconstructed or come from different platforms. So the digital health industry is working on Artificial Intelligence applications that can process data and return them in a readable form to patients or their physicians.
If you have health problems, your prognosis is influenced by a number of factors, including your income, and your knowledge of the right treatment to seek.
Digital technologies will also increase our opportunities for connection and networking. For instance in telemedicine, process, access, communication, and care can be much easier and more efficient.
Whether it’s AI, robotics, augmented or virtual reality, we must embrace technology’s capacity to influence the way healthcare operates. Only then can we begin to exploit its potential.
Imagine what healthcare could be capable of if creativity and problem solving were combined with the infinite computing power and cognitive resources of technology.
At the same time, there are needs that technologies can’t fulfill. While IBM Watson can scan millions of pages of documents in seconds, it will never be able to do the Heimlich maneuver. There will always be tasks humans perform faster, more reliably, or more cheaply. Technology will enhance human care, not replace it.
Because of digital innovation, health is no longer a steady state, but a daily practice that passes through digital tools whose drivers of transformation are startups able to grasp the needs of the market and turn them into projects with high innovative value.
There are more than 20,000 companies working in digital health. They’re innovating in different ways, and from different angles; aiming to reinvent all aspects of care and education, and imagining how these processes can work together.
The paradigm shift has already begun. We are moving from essentially acute medicine - I see a problem, I look for the solution with my doctor, when I tell her my symptoms - to preventive medicine - I see a problem, the sensors have recorded and analyzed it for me, I work with various teams who solve it in an integrated way.
Obviously patients and their lifestyles vary, and so do their diseases. Thus, no case is the same; each requires the attention of a doctor. Until complex digital solutions emerge, physicians will translate data from simple medical devices into medical decisions. In the future, the task will be the same, except more sophisticated technologies will be used.
|Intrigued by this topic? Read more about the future of health in "Il futuro della Salute" by Roberto Ascione.
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