Will we have cured all diseases? Will hospital staff all be robots? It’s easy to come up with wild theories as to what the future of healthcare may look like. Whilst we cannot predict everything, recent social and scientific research alongside the latest technologies may be able to give us an idea of hospitals could look like in 50 years’ time. Here are a few speculations currently being made by today’s healthcare experts.
More ageing patients
The number of centenarians (people aged over 100 years) has risen dramatically in the last twenty years. This is largely down to our growing ability to treat acute conditions before they become chronic. 1 in 12 people are thought to be aged over 80 by the year 2039. This is a huge concern for the medical sector, as although we are managing to fight diseases at a quicker rate, the human body has not yet evolved to work effectively over the age of 80. And so, as a result, a large percentage of the population will need full time care. Will this be the job of hospitals and will new wards have to be opened specifically for the elderly? Or will this aging population require a new hospital of their own.
Different kinds of hospital
Not only will the aging population rise – the entire population is going to continue to boom. Hospital infrastructure will not only have trouble coping – hospitals in urban areas may physically reach a point where they can no longer expand. One theory is that there will become a greater number of different types of hospital. Specific hospitals will specialise in A&E, whilst ‘community hospitals’ will provide longer planned care. There may also be ‘local hospitals’ for short-stay treatments – the natural step up from GP referral. This could keep hospitals more organised and more efficient.
The digital transformation of healthcare is thought to be huge. One area that has been suggested is the incorporation of the Internet of Things onto (or into) our bodies. Initially those that are sick and eventually all of us may have monitors attached to our bodies that tell us when we are ill or require medical assistance. We will all be able to monitor out stats on our smartphones and then take action when required. This could help us to catch illnesses earlier in the bud, although it has also raised a number of dangers including causing health paranoia and potentially being a security threat (a hacker might be able to access your body monitors and your private health details could be held under ransom, with threats to release them online if you don’t pay).
Such technology will also give patients more power, which may have positives and negatives. Both doctors and patients will be able to prove their illness through raw data available to both of them. After treatments, patients may then be presented with the option for doctors to continue monitoring their stats afterwards. This could reduce the time patients are spent in hospital, as patients may no longer need to be kept in a bed to be monitored. It’s a moot point as to whether eventually we will all give our private health details over hospitals so that we are monitored 24/7. Instead of us deciding whether we need medical care, we could be prompted by the healthcare system before we even know ourselves. Would this be too intrusive? Or would we be willing to give up the responsibility of our own health to others?
Turning wards into pods
Modern hospitals are largely designed around the staff. Open wards allow doctors and nurses to monitor all the beds around them. However, such wards can have their weaknesses. They can be loud, they can spread illness quicker and they can make privacy of the patient more difficult. One solution may be to start giving every patient their own pod. This would create more of a sense of calm for the patient. Monitors in each room could allow staff to see who is most in need of help at all times – this could be viewed on a tablet carried by every doctor and nurse. Already some newer wards have started incorporating this design and it is thought that more will follow suit in the future.
Already, virtual reality is being used to practice complex operations. Previously, the only way surgeons could have ever got hands-on practice was through models or by scrubbing in for real. VR has allowed a realistic but safe way of surgeons to practice such procedures. Mistakes do not have real-life repercussions, allowing surgeons to keep practicing these complex operations so that when they do them for real, the success rate is higher.
VR is being greatly researched into in the medical field in order to replicate more complex and more realistic procedures. Meanwhile, some surgery is being entirely carried out by AI. It is thought that it will be a long time before robots will ever be able to complete all forms of surgery – with so many individual factors at play, some operations may always need some form of human interaction, if only to make complex decisions involving risks.
We may be on the cusp of defeating heart disease and cancer, but scientists believe it is unlikely we will ever cure all diseases. Superbugs such as MRSA have already proved resistant to antibiotics and a growing number of these are expected to develop. Defeating these will involve ongoing medical research – which will in turn require extra funds. Such medication will have to be privately paid for and could only be available to a rich few unless funds are able to be found from elsewhere that make this medication less expensive to supply.
Hospitals meanwhile will have to better designed to control infections. By this token, the idea of less open wards and more individual pods could prove a must.
The Major Players In The Vaping Game
Vaping is big business, with health officials all over the world encouraging smokers to put down their cigarettes in favour of e-cigs. Vaping is commonly marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, so you may think that major tobacco companies are threatened by the ever-growing popularity of e-cigarettes. This would make sense unless you did a little digging online and discovered that many of the vaping game’s major players are actually leading tobacco companies. Research suggests that some of the best-selling vaping brands, including Blu and 10 Motives are owned by tobacco companies, many of which belong to the market monopolists, Big Tobacco. This infographic provides information about the parent companies that are profiting from vaping, and as you can see, some of the tobacco giants are heavily involved. Although 80 percent of brands were found to belong to independent firms, nine of the best-selling vaping brands belong to companies or subsidiaries of Big Tobacco (British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Brands plc and Philip Morris International), Huabao International Holdings and Stada Arzneimittel. Five brands belonged to parent companies that were not associated with tobacco. It’s often assumed that buying e-cigarettes takes money out of the pockets of tobacco giants, but this infographic raises an interesting point. With the market buoyant, it looks as though many of the major players in the tobacco game are also set to profit from e-cig sales. With this useful infographic, you can learn more about who is playing and winning and vaping game.
Infographic design by Go Smoke Free
The future of medicine: nanobots
The advances in technology have managed to change the world and the way we live today, and the studies and research in the field of medicine and technology with the use of nanobots represents a new field that opens the future to treatments that can extend, by far, the life expectancy of humans. The use of nanotechnology in the medicinal field has been put to practice for a few years now, with many pharmaceutical and medicinal labs using nanofibers and electrospinning equipment to introduce new techniques in the development of medicinal advances.
Scientists and researchers at the University of Cambridge are working to bring medicine to a new stage, that is, to bring the benefits of technological advancement to the patient with the use of Nanobots, which “navigate” our body and can even repair internal damage, prevent organ malfunction and serve as patches to stabilize our cellular function.
Nanotechnology brings together sciences such as physics, biology, chemistry, engineering and social sciences to understand, manipulate and exploit the physical characteristics of matter at the nanoscale.
The use of nanotechnology with which Cambridge scientists currently work represents a 50-year breakthrough in the field of medicine, which will enable us to live longer and have more effective treatments in the near future, for example, to destroy cancerous immune cells through nanotechnology or nanobots.
According to the progress made by the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences, nanobots patrol our body to detect serious damage and repair small heart attacks, and leave no evidence of the event, or develop and use biological scissors, which are capable of cutting or deleting defective genes.
Following the new opening of the new academy of the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences, it is being achieved that these advances of science and technology applied to medicine, and supported by the research of teachers and doctors, are being directed to a new form of treatments “Of the future”, in the present, and in a way to achieve to change the quality of life of human beings.
Dealing With The More Sensitive Side To Health Issues
It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but we can all find ourselves under the weather from time to time. Sometimes these illnesses can’t be helped, and there nothing too serious at all. But sometimes, you can also find yourself dealing with some more serious illness, some that even come with sensitivities. And then, you can find yourself faced with an entirely different kettle of fish. So what are you supposed to do? If you’ve never dealt with a lot of illness in life, then you may need a bit of advice. Read on for information on how to deal with sensitive illness issues.
Being sick is one thing, being able to avoid it is another. It’s tough to be able to fall ill and know that you may not have had to suffer in the first place. This can often be the case when your job causes your health issues. But, it’s important that you speak up. Even if you may not feel like you can, it’s important that you raise the issue with your employer. Speaking up can often seem scary, especially if you feel like you don’t want to make a fuss. But, you need to make it known that you’ve been made ill, take action, and find a solution if you can.
Then, you may want to think about protecting your health too. When you’re self-employed, own your own business, or aren’t covered for sickness at work, you may suffer should you fall ill and not be able to work. This is where critical illness cover comes in. It’s easy to think that this is something that the financial services industry wants to sell you. But, should you be ill for a long time and be unable to work, the payments would be a blessed release.
Treatment is something that we all need for healthcare issues. But sometimes, your treatment options aren’t as traditional as others. And that can make you a little self-conscious about seeking help. This is particularly the case when you’re suffering from a mental illness. The stigma around mental health can make talking to someone feel shameful. But that’s not the case. You should do some research into different doctors to find a professional that you’ll be comfortable speaking to. Because seeking help and getting treatment is the most important thing.
At the same time, you may also want to get support with health and illness related issues when you’re struggling to cope alone. Many professionals can help here. From a wrongful death lawyer to a home healthcare nurse, depending on your circumstances. Sometimes, the issue might be sensitive, but if getting support makes things better, do it.
Dealing With Grief
And finally, if you find yourself at the end of a healthcare journey, particularly with a loved one, you may be suffering deeply with grief. It can be an awful experience to have to go through. But the important thing is that you do something about coping with grief so that you can continue on with the rest of your life in the best way possible.
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