TechBite on the Role of Doctors in 2025

Key insights and resources taken from The Future of Medicine – the Role of Doctors in 2025 seminar in May 2016, organised by the IET Healthcare Technologies Network and The Royal Society of Medicine.

Technological advancements play a huge role in improving the delivery and quality of healthcare, from discovery research through to social care. Disruptive innovation continues to change how healthcare professionals practice medicine as inquisitive minds from the technology sector carry on pushing the envelope. The future of medicine continues to be a hot topic, not just because of the exciting advances we are seeing, but also due to growing demands on the healthcare sector.  

Forward thinking

“With a population living longer than ever before with more long-term conditions, now more than ever medicine and healthcare are becoming issues that governments and individuals are having to address,” highlights Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation NHS England.

“We have made considerable progress with many of the acute conditions that modern healthcare was designed to deal with, but now approximately 70 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on chronic disease. That is why we have published the Five Year Forward View (5YFV) to help us address some of the challenges we face.”

The 5YFV looks at the wide-ranging challenges faced by the healthcare sector, giving medical and engineering professionals the chance to come together to discuss improving technology-enabled care and look at how medicine could be practiced in the future.

Personalised care

One prediction is that medicine will become more personalised. “Increasingly the ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work and both diagnosis and treatment will be tailored to an individual based on their genome, exposome, medical history etc. Patients are set to take increasing charge of their healthcare, empowered by advances in technology, digital health, data analytics, genomics and social networking,” Professor Young says.

Healthcare technology looks to be focusing on two areas; hardware for therapeutics and then bioinformatics. “You’re talking about harnessing the power of big data to look at problems, treatments and outcomes,” says Dr Jack Kriendler, the founder of Sentrian. “One area fuelling this is genomics profiling technology, which has become cheaper and cheaper. That kind of data hasn’t been around before and augments the big data focus.”

The effects of Horizontal Innovation

Horizontal innovation is also changing the future landscape of healthcare. “There’s data coming from apps, devices both consumer and medical, stuff that only ever used to happen in clinics is now happening in people’s pockets, on their skin, around their wrists. A lot of this has come from the consumer electronics industry,” Dr Kriendler notes.

“One company is looking at anomaly detection in vital signs, and this technology came from work in the aviation sector, looking at engine performance. Similarity, one of my projects uses machine learning originally derived from elite sport. Ultimately I think the technology that will make the biggest change to the medical industry is information technology and computer science innovation from different industries finding their way into solving healthcare problems.”

There are still many challenges to overcome, such as providing desirable solutions, deciding who will pay for these advancements, and improving adoption by medical professionals, but the experts stand firm on their prediction of how the future of medicine will look.

“More and more patients will be empowered through these advanced technologies to take responsibility and charge of their own healthcare. Clinicians are set to become navigators and advisors rather than the gatekeepers they currently are,” Professor Young concludes.

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