Healthcare, more space for disruption

Technology and quality of life expectations

by Lino Mari

Healthcare, more space for disruption
Healthcare, more space for disruption

The next few years will probably be the richest of new and technological solutions that will dramatically improve the quality and expectations of our lives. Much more than we have had in thousands of years.
The reasons for this optimism is due to the many achievements of research in recent years, but especially in the health area because there is an ongoing radical transformation thanks to technology and to the innovative drive due to the huge investments by giants such as Google, Microsoft and IBM and lately by small business owners, makers and start-ups.

An area of great impact is Artificial Intelligence, a technology that allows machines to learn. Cars able to drive themselves and learn to gradually do it better already exist. Soon this technology will support physicians who will have virtual assistants able to analyze a specific medical record and suggest the best treatment or better medicines according even to genetic analysis. And AI can do much more, like for example by learning relentlessly through the analysis of medical records and clinical cases databases, it will be able to make predictions for individual patients or entire communities by focusing on prevention, and thus prevent a disease from even developing.

Can an App heal?
There already are applications that help physicians and patients in the treatment of a pathology. There are applications that help people keep fit and share their data with a community of users with similar interests.
The real news this year is an application that has been validated by a national health system (the German) as an actual medication.
We are talking about Tinnitracks, an application for the treatment of tinnitus, a hearing impairment that affects about 15% of the population.
Tinnitracks was presented in Italy during the Frontiers of Interaction event. It was developed by Sonormed, a start-up in Hamburg in Germany, and is based on research conducted by a group of scientists at the University of Münster.

Using this application, people can set their own music and use it to cure tinnitus. The application filters audio tracks and sends customized signals directly to the brain exploiting its lifelong ability to adapt.
The application was introduced by Jörg Land, co-founder of Sonormed who explained how this application is now available in Germany (and soon in other European countries) and reimbursable by the national health system as are traditional drugs. This clearly shows that we are facing a radical transformation in the industry and that this is only the beginning.

Personalized medications through 3D printing
3D printing has become the symbol of DIY technology. Today, this technology allows us to completely redesign the concept of drug and drug manufacturing. Only a few weeks ago the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved a pill that can be prescribed and “printed” using a special 3D printer.
This pill may soon be used by more than 3 million patients in the U.S. alone. This is important news for several reasons.
Firstly, because of the approval of a production process of a drug using such type of technology.
Secondly, custom medication dosages can now be prescribed, i.e. each individual patients may obtain, in authorized centers, a drug at a dose designed especially for them and no longer adapted from standard doses on the market.
A further reason is the relocation of production anywhere in the world, thus avoiding transport time and deterioration risks for the active ingredients.

The beginning of this great process of transformation that is taking place in health is really promising. If we consider that technological innovation generally triggers an exponential process of evolution, we can surely say that soon there will be even more powerful technologies at increasingly lower cost that will make us live not only longer but with an increasing quality of life.

This is one of the articles of the Healthcare transformation booklet inspired by the FrontiersX Conference, that will be published very soon. Stay tuned!

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