Gene-edited human embryo. Self-driving trucks. Practical quantum computers. 2017 has been an exciting year for science, technology – and digital health! It’s that time of the year again when it’s worth looking back at the past months; and list the inventions, methods and milestone events in healthcare to get a clearer picture what will shape medicine for the years to come.
2017 – Amazing year for science and healthcare
Scientists, researchers, and innovators come up with amazing breakthroughs every year, and that was no different in 2017 either. No matter whether we look at physics (proving the existence of gravitational waves), astronomy (discovering new planets) or biology (detecting a fluorescent frog in Brazil), we come across mind-blowing scientific findings everywhere. Healthcare was no exception, moreover, some say the field of medicine is one of the most innovative fields today.
Looking back at our expectations in digital health for 2017 in terms of trends, innovations or breakthroughs, there were at least three developments and three trends, which proved to be foresightful. The beginning of a new era in diabetes care is upon us with the realities of the FDA-approved artificial pancreas or such small, but significant innovations as a glucose monitor built into phone cases. Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), mainly computer vision and natural language processing, started to take its place in healthcare – in spite of such bumps on the road until widespread use as overhyping the technology. Precision medicine is incrementally reshaping cancer care methods: DNA-tests from tumors and patients are used to work out targeted treatments in the fight against cancer.
Moreover, I predicted that a health insurance company will launch a package which will include fitness trackers and wearables; that a big tech company will step up its efforts in digital health; and further steps will be made in the development of the CRISPR genome-editing method. Although we still have to wait for the first clinical trials, New Scientist has already reported in April 2017 that there are as many as 20 human trials underway, mostly in China. But I rushed ahead of myself. Let’s dive into the details step by step!
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Image Credit: Bertalan Meskó, MD, PhD/LinkedIn