Future of Healthcare: When We Become the Data, and the Doctors are the Software

by Vivek Wadhwa

There is nothing like a near-death experience to make you acutely aware of how much we rely on medicine and the healthcare system. I suffered a massive heart attack in March 2012 and nearly died. The doctors saved me. Since that terrifying event, I have tracked developments in technology, medicine, and wellness carefully. All along, I wondered why so much health care aimed at saving us after we fell ill rather than at keeping us healthy and spotting the problems well in advance. People in the healthcare sector call such an approach wellness care, or preventive medicine.

Health Care Apps - Vivek WadhwaIn researching the advances in healthcare technology, I saw an amazing future emerging. Applications for iPhones began to appear that could monitor heart rates and perform other basic medical monitoring. Then came applications of greater complexity, ones that harnessed the power of the smartphone’s camera to scan images in search of anomalies such as moles or to gauge skin color as a proxy for other health issues. Next came attached devices such as the ECG cradle I discussed earlier in this book. I began talking with geneticists, who told me about powerful advances in our ability to decode the genome and even write entirely new DNA that have resulted from the acceleration of computing. (Recently those advances have made editing DNA nearly as easy as running a high school science laboratory).

The very same exponential technology improvement curves that describe smartphone use and development of drones and autonomous cars also, now, describe the rapid improvements in medical technology.

Collectively, these advances are creating a wholesale change in the way we practice and think about medicine. We are finally moving toward a focus on wellness and preventive measures. But now we can personalize analysis and treatments as never before. We will as consumers have unprecedented insights into and power to control our own health care. And augmenting our bodies and our minds will be possible by a plethora of biological and mechanical means unimaginable just a decade ago— if we choose to make such augmentations available.


Vivek Wadhwa FuturistVivek Wadhwa is the author of The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future and a popular keynote speaker. His fascinating presentations delve deeply into the emerging technologies that will change our industries and our lives.

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