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How We're Advancing in Healthcare and Why I'm Excited

28/10/2014 12:28 GMT | Updated 27/12/2014 10:59 GMT

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One of my friends recently told me that she doesn't intend on opting-in to the current government pension scheme, nor does she intend to get a private pension plan because she figures due to being overweight, a smoker and an unrelenting lover of cider, she won't live to get a pension. Obviously, these were deep words from a 21 year old woman but she did get me thinking... Where will we be with medical technology 50 years from now?

It's something that both excites me and completely overwhelms me. If we look at where we are with medical technology now and where we were 60 years ago, the changes and growth are absolutely monumental. My friend may think that in 50 years, she'll be dodging the pension-age but really, we don't know where government legislation or medical technology will be by then. What we do know, though, is that in the past 50 years, medical technology has continued to surpass any and all expectations so the chances are it'll continue to do so. This is a fair observation given the digital age we're living in and the advancements made even just in the past ten years compared to the thousands before it.

So what advancements have we seen so far?

• Perhaps most notably, we've seen (no pun intended) the rise and success of laser eye surgery. The words laser eye surgery sound far more intimidating than the actual process is. It's actually a very simple yet precise process that removes faulty tissue in the same manner that a scalpel would. To give you insight: a popular laser 'eliminates 0.25 microns of tissue - that's one thousandth of a millimetre, which is the same as removing 1/200th of a human hair or 1/39,000,000th of an inch in four billionths of a second!' - source. Laser eye surgery has become part of everyday discussion and the depth of what it actually does and means for future technology is perhaps now taken for granted but it really is an incredible advancement!

• Portable technology. There was a time when medical devices such as heart rate monitors were only found in hospitals and occasionally in homes of the extremely ill. They are now available to us in app and device form with devices such as the Wireless Pulse Oximeter which monitors blood oxygen saturation, pulse rate and creates records based on the trends your body experiences.

• 3D and 4D ultrasound scans. For new parents, the excitement and anticipation that builds up over the 9 months of a baby being carried can get all too much. What will they look like? Are they healthy? The questions are endless and even the reassurances of midwives and nurses can sometimes do very little to calm the nerves and frustration of expectant parents. 2D scans do very little to calm such nerves as they scan right through the skin and only display internal organs. This can now be a thing of the past thanks to 3D and 4D ultrasound scans. 3D scans show your baby in three dimensions and 4D scans show your baby moving in real time and not in the disappointing black and grey grainy sense that 4D scans do but in the sense that you see the baby completely.

Of course, there have been many more advances including laser treatment for cancer care, real time location systems and genome sequencing.

All of the above advancements are relatively new in the medical field. Even the internet, in relative terms, is very new and we still don't really know what's next or where we're going with it. Keeping this in mind... what can we really deduce? Can my friend honestly say she has bad health now so in 50 years, she has no chance of being alive when she doesn't know how much the medical field will improve?

50 years is a long time in anybody's mind but in the world of science and technology, it's an incredibly long time. The advances that can be made in that time are unfathomable. The very thought that the technology I've listed above will probably be outdated and considered to be even obsolete comparatively is mind-blowing.

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[photo by NEC Corporation of America]