Technology is in the process of completely transforming all aspects of 4 industries – construction, medicine, retail, and transport – with a significant reduction in the need for human labor. Here is the impact on Medicine, where, within 10-20 years (or less), it is reasonable to expect that:
- Most diseases will be eradicated (although some new ones may develop).
- We will be wearing sensors that constantly monitor our health, and immediately start a remedial process when something is wrong (from ordering medications, to booking an appointment with a medical specialist, or dispatching an ambulance).
- Medication dosage and anesthetics will be customized for our personal situation (weight, age, medical history, genetic makeup, etc.)
- Medication will be delivered to the most effective part of our bodies at the required frequency and dosage, using automatic dispensers, attached externally, or internally using nanobots.
- All medical testing (bloodwork, imaging, etc.) will be automated, with analyses confirmed (at least for a while) by specialists who may reside remotely.
- All surgery will be minimally invasive or replaced by the use of nanobots. Some surgery will be performed remotely (as the Da Vinci Surgical System has been doing since 2000).
- Defective organs will be replaced by transplants built from our own stem cells.
- Limbs and eyes will be replaced by brain-controlled prosthetics that operate more effectively than human versions. (The $6 Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman may no longer be fiction!)
- Living to an age of 130-150 years will be normal with a good quality of life.
The technologies, which will make this vision a reality, include AI, Robotics, Nanotechnology, and Biotechnology (gene editing via CRISPR-Cas9 with its enormous potential and considerable dangers).
The impact of these technologies on the medical profession is considerable. As with all professions, lower-level functions will be replaced by automation, but so will many specialists. There is already a suggestion that medical schools stop training radiologists (see below) as the ability of AI routines to analyze medical images is starting to match that of specialists, and will soon exceed it. As the above vision starts to be implemented, the need for general practitioners will reduce. (From as far back as 1979, studies have shown that people are more honest in responding to computer terminals – or robots – than to nurses or GPs.)
The jobs in the medical profession that will likely last longer are those requiring direct patient contact. So psychiatrists and psychologists will be around for the foreseeable future, and may be more in demand as society learns to cope with a world without paid work. (On the other hand, a client of Nick’s was developing a computer-based program to provide cognitive behavioral therapy about 15 years ago.). While the need for nurses and administrators in doctors’ offices will disappear, nurses will still be needed to provide hospital and community patient care.
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First long-distance heart surgery performed via robot in India (Medicine/Telemedicine Surgery - 2019-09 - ZDNet)
A doctor in India has performed a series of 5 successful percutaneous coronary intervention procedures on patients who were 20 miles away, using a precision vascular robot developed by Corindus. Telemedicine is an emerging field, leveraging advances in networking, robotics, mixed reality, and communications technologies to beam in medical experts to remote locations for everything from consultations to surgical procedures.
First autonomous navigation inside an organism (Medicine/Autonomous Catheters - 2019-04 - Technology.org)
Bioengineers led by Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital describe a robotic catheter that can navigate autonomously. The catheter found its way along the walls of a beating, blood-filled heart to a leaky valve in an animal model, without a surgeon’s involvement. The device could eliminate the need for fluoroscopic imaging in these types of valve repairs, which exposes patients to ionizing radiation.
Adding a virtual reality twist to robots in the operating room (Medicine - 2019-02 - TechCrunch)
Vicarious Surgical, A Massachusetts start-up, backed by Bill Gates and other high-tech company founders, is developing technology for remote surgery. A small robot will be inserted into a patient’s body, and controlled by a remotely-located surgeon using a virtual reality headset.