Last year, the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday. Healthcare has changed enormously in those seven decades, and no one knows what the next 70 years will hold. But all the signs are that it will have undergone another huge change, as technologies are invented that enable doctors to treat patients in completely different ways. This supplement, sponsored by Philips, explores how technology could transform the future of medicine.
As Neil Armstrong finds, a person’s genome could be read to allow doctors to predict the likelihood of their developing heart disease — and so allow earlier diagnoses that would, in turn, increase survival rates. As Ross Clark writes, artificial intelligence could speed up the time it takes for new drugs to go from inception to being marketed. Surgeons could even be able to remotely perform operations from anywhere in the world, with the help of robotics.
The future of healthcare is an exciting one. As new technologies emerge, there will be ways of making them applicable to medicine — using voice-activation software to transcribe a doctor’s notes, for example, or to support someone with memory problems, which Victoria Lambert discusses.
Exactly what will happen is, of course, far from certain. But with the government determined to harness the power of technology — for instance, with its new joint unit NHSX — healthcare as we know it is definitely set to change.
Camilla Swift, Editor