International healthcare trends – Hennie Bezuidenhoudt

*This content is brought to you by Orbvest

By Hennie Bezuidenhoudt*

2018 into 2019 has seen advances in the nature of healthcare and healthcare trends which are nothing less than astronomical. Technology and healthcare are inextricably linked and technology is advancing so rapidly that the future of healthcare is almost impossible to gauge from one day to the next.

Hennie Bezuidenhout, Martin Freeman
Hennie Bezuidenhoudt and Martin Freeman

What we do know is that we will need to be seeking different and hopefully better solutions to the nature of healthcare, and the healthcare facilities of the future. This is a massive subject, but these are just a few of the trends that are changing the face of healthcare as we know it…

Amazing technology

It’s called the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the entire reconstruction of a human being from body parts is possibly imminent. Even the regeneration and indefinite maintenance of a living human being is no longer just science fiction, but a real possibility in the years to come.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) in particular is playing many roles in the advancing technology of healthcare. One such role is ‘personalised medicine.’ The unique needs, lifestyle and genetic makeup of every individual patient will continue to be an important trend in healthcare. AI assists through robotics and chatbots to moving past a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

AI is also playing a massive role in cutting the time scientists spend analysing data and testing molecular combinations and it has the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment plans of patients. The cancer mortality rate has declined 27% over the last 25 years and AI has been a significant contributor to the decline of skin cancer through far more accurate early detection than that made by doctors.

The fight against cancer could be further enhanced by the application of immune-oncology, which persuades the body’s own immune system to fight the disease. The use of antibodies that attach to certain proteins on cancer cells, helping the immune system to recognize and destroy them more easily, is used to treat lymphoma and leukaemia.

Smart devices combined with AI will be able to detect a depressive condition in advance and possibly treat it through a cellphone that utilises ‘Woebot,’ (still in trial phase), a chatbot designed according to the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy. The wearing of Digital Devices like ‘Apple Watch’ will become a valuable tool for incentivising healthy behaviour. Wearable devices can generate real-time data about patients and allow them to report their own subjective symptoms more accurately.

There is a new pill which has a tiny sensor that records when it is taken, used by schizophrenia and mental patients. We can now use devices to measure and monitor blood pressure, glucose levels and conditions from blood samples – and send the results in real time to our doctors. These are all possible through IoMT, or the Internet of Medical Things, which integrates personal digital devices, connected medical devices, implants and other sensors.

Stem Cell Technology will assist to totally regenerate cells in the body. Taking painkillers for a worn out cartilage, or having an operation to replace the joint, may be a thing of the past when stem-cell technology is able to help cartilage and other parts of the body to regrow. Even more amazing is that whole body parts may be able to be reproduced through 3D printing.

Ensuring future healthcare solutions

We have really just touched on the incredible trends that are shaping the future of healthcare and it’s clear that the approach to patient care will need to change in many ways. Miraculous solutions mean that aging as we know it today will be very different 50 years from now.

We at Orbvest are at the cutting edge of what will be nothing less than a transformation of healthcare and healthcare facilities. ‘Sick care’ as we know it today, which is retrospective, reactive, expensive and bureaucratized, will be driven through specialisation, technology, DNA-decoding and integration to a new dimension of ‘Health care.’ Health care, contrary to sick care will be preventative, personalised, highly effective, offering remedial care and a far greater quality of life.

The details of this however are for another article. Suffice to say international healthcare trends will demand that we leverage technology, drive down costs and constantly seek better and more effective patient experiences.

  • Hennie Bezuidenhoudt, chairman, Orbvest