In the healthcare industry, the digital revolution affects two major areas: big data and eHealth (digital tools applied to healthcare). The availability of massive volumes of data is a hard fact. This exponential rise has layed the foundation for the medicine of the future, caracterised by 5 Ps: preventive, predictive, participatory, personalized, pertinent.
The Chinese healthcare system is facing numerous challenges, which means great opportunities for those western players in the industry who have relatively mature solutions and experiences to offer. However, China is increasingly designing its own way, fully leveraging the power of digitization to bridge the gaps.
Sirius has four characteristics. He is strictly rational and insensitive to any emotional stimulus. He is also insensitive to any political or corporate pressure. He ignores all existing health systems worldwide. He has a full capacity of understanding and immediate learning. Were Sirius asked to design a completely new health system, what would it look like?
It's 2025, a Digital Earth where continuous connections are everywhere, yet it's a planet where infectious disease outbreaks can erupt anywhere and spread worldwide in days. To provide a strategic health care firewall against medical crises and bio-terror, the Centers for Disease Control have matured digitally into a global, real-time e-CDC. New medical threats are identified, responded to and contained 24 x 365. As a real-time partner of health services around the world, the e-CDC's digital presence is everywhere. In this continuously connected future, it uses the best specialists to deliver the best medical protection everywhere, instantly, all the time.
Nano-sciences and nano-technologies are opening up hitherto unmapped paths to our bodies and health. But nano-medicine does not avoid the heated debates associated to this new scale. Risk assessment cannot be limited to a cost-benefit analysis. So, where do we go from here?
Initially developed for military uses, exoskeletons are now moving into civvy street, with applications under development for disabled senior citizens or handicapped persons. Business of this product calls for sophisticated technologies by also for a clear view at the end-users. In this technology-intensive, leading edge emerging market, start-ups are out front.
Rapid advances in neurosciences have led to some decisive progress in fields as varied as education, or treatment of psychiatric disorders. But it is a specialty where debate rages as the ambitions expand overtly.
Significant tech breakthroughs, a growing number of applications, mature industrial processes: in recent years many factors have boosted the development of nuclear medicine. Not so long ago, it was a matter of R&D. Now it's an industry. One of its most interesting business lines is the production of FDG, the most widely used radioactive tracer in nuclear medical imaging.
Various technologies are now vying to develop an augmented human being. Step-by-step, they would gradually modify the basic data registers of life, such as intelligence, procreation, ageing. Techno-prophets, not all crazed illuminati, entertain the dream of the advent of New Mankind. Major (and some minor) ethical questions arise as we explore a phenomenon that is no longer restrained within the wraps of sci-fi.
The spectacular optical properties of nanoparticles are revolutionizing medical imaging. They also help to renew therapeutic techniques. On the occasion of the inauguration of the AXA-ESPCI Chair, Emmanuel Fort, professor at the Langevin Institute of ESPCI ParisTech, presented the latest advances in a promising field where two roads meet.
With 3-D medical imaging rapidly coming on line, a silent revolution is under way in our hospitals and research establishments. Practitioner's techniques are constantly improving and gaining ground, but there are limits. New strides forward will come from combinatory techologies, for example, by marrying PET-Scan and MRI.
Cancer diagnosis and treatments today are undergoing deep-reaching changes. Therapeutic strategies, until recently, could be summarised as ablation of the diseased organs and destruction of cancerous cells, often leading to serious unwanted effects that weaken the patient or limit the efficiency of the cancer treatment. But innovative approaches are emerging. They target cell functions and its close environment.
The London Olympic Games gave the world an opportunity to behold something previously unseen: an amputee athlete, Oscar Pistorius, crouching in the starting blocks alongside the world’s greatest runners. Such a sight raised an unprecedented question: are new generation prostheses going to give an unfair advantage to certain athletes? Technologies are now allowing amazing performances. But is technological progress advancing social integration for the disabled?
The problem of counterfeit drugs has emerged as an acute issue in the public debate over the last ten years. Both China's entry in the World Trade Organization and the growth of the Internet have deeply influenced the evolution of this problem. Meanwhile, the forms and issues at stake are not very well known. Today, the problem has grown to such a magnitude that it has become crucial to rethink our fight against drug counterfeiting.
From risk profiling to gene therapy and molecular diagnostics, personalized medicine opens new, exciting fields to medical research. Not only is it good news for the patients: considerable improvements are at stake, both for health systems and pharmaceutical firms now struggling to reinvent themselves. But the road ahead is still full of obstacles.
The recently-adopted smoking bans in bars and restaurants epitomize a cultural transformation. By creating an environment where smoking becomes increasingly more difficult, the bans help shift social norms away from the acceptance of smoking in everyday life and promotes public rejection of cigarettes. And this is only the beginning. New public policies such as nudging smokers are now developed, raising legal and moral issues.
Technology-enabled home health care should be thriving. An aging population and the transformation of acute illnesses such as heart failure into chronic diseases mean that the number of patients is growing. In addition, new medical-technology devices could help keep patients at home rather than in costly institutions, such as assisted-living facilities or nursing homes - leading to potentially big savings for the health care systems. Instead, the full potential of the technology-enabled home health care market remains to be tapped.
Brain malfunctions account for 35% of all diseases in Europe, with an annual cost of 400 billion Euros, well above the costs of cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is not surprising because a complex structure is subject to a huge number of dysfunctions.
In most places in the world, the death rate keeps falling. Even in the West, where we keep doing our best to tempt fate by gaining more weight, the trend continues to be toward longer life. Now some scientists believe the rapid growth of genetic knowledge may make further medical breakthroughs even more likely. How much longer might we live? And how will society cope if we do?
Throughout history, changes in human behavior have caused the dissemination of infectious diseases, from smallpox to the flu. But thanks to scientific progress and plain old international cooperation and coordination, we’ve been able to ward off disaster, or at least the worst of it. However, an additional factor will up the stakes for scientists and policymakers worldwide in the fight against emergence or re-emergence: the remarkable adaptive capacities of microbes. The question is, microbes or men, who will win?