As the digital age progresses and matures, new and unprecedented innovations are leading to human lifespans increasing across the globe. This should come as no surprise; it follows a pattern of increasing longevity of life that always receives a welcome boost after the onset of a technological revolution.
This guide details some of the stunning invention which, combined with human ingenuity, is leading humanity into a new age of healthcare and wellness. As well as bringing us the internet and digital filing systems, the age of information means that we’re more able to work on our general health than ever before. In that sense, these tips constitute valuable knowledge to take into your future.
The Power of Data
We may usually see data as an asset that assists with targeted advertising, helping tech companies earn billions of dollars from their free platforms, but there are far more exciting developments happening in the world of data-crunching diagnoses. Once the domain of the specialist doctor with a knack for finding the solution in the nick of time (think TV’s ‘House’), it’s now sophisticated computers that we look at for the more complex and challenging diagnoses in world healthcare.
It’s because AI, machine learning technologies, have been applied to the dynamic world of patient data processing, with remarkable results. These data-consuming computers are not only used for diagnoses though, but they also can be used to prescribe the right kind of medication and to suggest courses of treatments for more severe, potentially fatal diseases. It’s a huge leap forward in terms of removing human error from the equation, and it’s something that healthcare professionals the world over are in favor of as we become increasingly comfortable with the idea of computer doctors.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘with robotic precision,’ you’re likely to prefer an automated surgeon to a human one. That’s because robots do not experience many of the fallibilities that humans do, such as hand tremors, or other forms of human error due to tiredness or stress. Of course, there will always be doctors, nurses and surgeons in the room to supervise, you’ll not be left alone with a robotic doctor, but it’s the technology that we’re celebrating here. It’s an algorithmic masterpiece and one which is already operating on people whether they be minor surgeries or more substantial, more delicate procedures.
Moving into the future, we can imagine these technologies improving to avoid the one error that an algorithmic, robotic surgeon can make: not taking into account the variability of the human body. Whether through machine learning or through a complex system of sensors that are well-acquainted with the dynamics of the internal human body, it’s not in the distant future that we’ll find the world’s best surgeons composed of metal, wire, and data.
Many illnesses and diseases are preventable if they’re detected early in their development. The perfect example of the kinds of technology that do this are MRI scanners, which have of course been around for a while. The problem is that they are incredibly expensive and cumbersome to operate. As technology progresses, it makes these kinds of machines more affordable, more compact and even mobile, so that territories can invest in the infrastructure to scan their populace for the illnesses that are most likely to cause fatalities or shorten the average lifespan of the nation. Expect to see some dramatic developments in this field in the next half-decade, when nanotechnology, quantum medical technology, and AI all combine to create preventative medical tech.
The second form of preventative tech comes in personal health products to help change behaviors and discipline citizens who might be taking a laissez-faire attitude towards their health. An excellent example of this is the E-cigarette, which is lauded as a far better option to those addicted to nicotine than the traditional ‘smoke’ cigarette. Some vape juice can even be bought nicotine-free, which means even the negative effects of addiction to nicotine, like increased heart pressure, will be negated. It’s sure to save many thousands of lives as it continues taking off.
Apps and Information
We've already discussed big data and its merits in the healthcare industry. But, the other side to the ‘information age’ is the information and the content that we, ordinary citizens, consume on a daily basis. We’re talking medical journals and online MDs that help teach you about your health. We’re talking an increasingly sophisticated and informative array of apps (many downloadable for free) which help people manage everything from their menstrual cycles to their sleep patterns and calorie intake. All of this new information is deliverable to anyone with an internet connection and is saving lives through information-sharing.
Some of the most dramatic examples of this can actually be found in the meditation revolution that’s sweeping western nations. It’s been recognized for millennia as a way to decompress and unwind, but it’s finally being presented in an accessible way thanks to multiple apps that help guide individuals through meditation. While this has immediate mental health benefits for anyone who struggles with anxiety, stress or depression, it’s also a tried-and-tested method to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which leads to plenty of physical health benefits, too.
Information sharing doesn’t just happen between health professionals and individuals seeking advice, remedies or guidance in their health regimes. It’s also used to connect doctors across the world with the latest information in the sector, both regarding procedural developments and regarding being able to access patients’ health records whether they’re in their country of origin or not. It might not seem a huge breakthrough, but it’s something that’s serving to safeguard the growing amount of migrants and expats living across the world. As the world becomes more globalized, this is only going to become a more critical and timely trend.
Interoperability also applies to critical patient information, which means those who’re in a precarious position health-wise, in their own country, in need of immediate attention and treatment. You can imagine what the process of treating such a patient might have entailed in the pre-digital age. Doctors would have to pull up files and documents across many hours, if not days, in order to choose the correct procedure. Nowadays, this kind of labor happens almost instantaneously, and it’s incredibly rare for a doctor to get muddled up with the wrong patient’s files. Instant healthcare responses mean quicker remedies and less risk, which are tremendous benefits that we can share across the world.
Specialist Assistive Items
To get a little more specific, there have also been startling breakthroughs in the way that we deal with certain kinds of illness, disease or disability. We’ll start by examining the ‘artificial retina’ which combines nanotechnology with breakthroughs in our understanding of blindness and other ailments of the eye. These ‘smart’ retinas can be implanted in patients who are considered blind for life, to restore some of their sight. You only have to see a video of this procedure concluding successfully to see this breakthrough as incredibly valuable and rather beautiful for those benefiting.
In a similar vein, we might consider the vast advances happening in the prosthetic industry of late. It’s been half a century since the last significant breakthrough in this department but, thanks to digital and robotic breakthroughs in the last twenty years, prosthetic limbs are becoming incredibly advanced, helping everyone from veterans to victims of car addicts get back on their feet naturally and fluidly. The most impressive of these read the muscular signals send by the brain and translate them into robotic movements. It’s the realization of the ‘cyborg’ vision of sci-fi fame.
Not strictly a medical breakthrough, but one that’s serving to increase lifespans by some distance is the social and technological drive to increase safety for individuals going about their everyday life. You may be familiar with the story regarding car passenger safety. Founding automobile companies took a look at the downsides of their technological innovation, the affordable personal automobile, and found that many people were dying or becoming injured in car accidents. When they found that most of these deaths were due to passengers being unsecured in their cars, they invented the seatbelt. It saved many thousands of lives in its first year.
It’s in this sense that average lifespans are increasing due to safety procedures associated both with new and with old forms of technology. It’s in part a social responsibility on the part of tech companies and in part a purely technological achievement in that we can measure, analyze and respond to everyday risks in a far more efficient manner thanks to digital technology than we could, say, 40 years ago. Of course, accidents still happen and people are still going to be hurt and killed in terrible circumstances, but if the technology is helping us minimize this number, then once again it is working in favor of humankind.
These are just some of the beautiful technological innovations that are happening in the world of personal and societal health in the digital are. Technology is frequently presented as disruptive and evil, but at least in health, it’s certainly on the side of humanity.