April 12 2008 / by juldrich
Category: Business & Work Year: General Rating: 9 Hot
By Jack Uldrich
Cross-posted from jumpthecurve.net
Last fall, I had the opportunity to give the keynote presentation at the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s annual meeting. The title of my talk was “The Future of Health Care.” At the behest of the conference organizer, I provided an advance copy of my presentation so that they could make copies for the participants. The only problem was that the organizers asked for my presentation a few weeks in advance and the pace of technological change – especially as it relates to the health care industry – is so rapid that I was compelled to update a number of slides prior to my talk.
As proof of the accelerating pace of technological change, I’d like to just walk you through a few weeks of technological and scientific advancement in the health care industry. In October, researchers at Chonnam National University in Korea announced that they had created a microscopic robot small enough to travel through blood vessels. The robot is so capable that once it is inside a blocked artery it is able to release drugs to dissolve blood clots. According to this 2007 study, deaths from severe heart attacks after hospital admission have already been halved in the past six years. As a result of advances such as this microscopic robot, it is reasonable to believe that we will continue to make even more progress.
In early November, researchers at the Institute for Advanced Bioscience in Tusuroka, Japan successfully demonstrated that they had used inkjet printers to “print” human stem cells. The significance of this advance is that society is now one step closer to creating implantable organs. (cont.)
In an unrelated advance, researchers in both Japan and the United States also announced amazing strides in the creation of brain-neural technology (such as I wrote about in this posting). This advance could greatly aide patients with rehabilitation. If that fails, the technology might still allow patients to control their wheelchairs by thought alone. To this end, I’d encourage you to watch this video in order to understand how the technology works:
On a slightly more practical and near-term basis, IBM recently announced that it had created a virtualization technology that allows doctors to interact with patients using only a avatar – a 3-D representation of the human body. To be sure, the technology seems a little impersonal, but if you are living in a rural area and can only have your avatar be “seen” over the Internet by a doctor in the big city, it beats the alternative – which is not being seen at all.
I could go on and discuss how carbon nanotubes will soon lead to better implants; explain how super-computers are now creating better drugs; document the startling advances in being made in manufacturing synthetic blood; or even explain how recent progress in the field of metagenomics and gene sequencing are inching ever closer to revolutionizing health care, but my point is that it is imperative health care executive learn to “jump the curve” because exponential advances in a variety of technologies are going to radically transform their business in ways that are almost impossible to fathom today. And, while these changes won’t occur over night, they are likely to happen sooner rather than later. The time to begin preparing for this tsunami of change is now!
P.S. Remember these are just the advances that have been made in the last few months, I haven’t even begun to document the bulk of my presentation which outlines the advances in RFID technology, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, pharmacogenomics and proteinomics, as well as the innovative work that such information technology companies as Google, Microsoft and Intel are pursuing in applying exponential advances in semiconductors, data storage, software, algorithms and bandwidth to the delivery of health care.