Understanding the future of a digital, autonomous and patient-first healthcare system is in fact the first step in realising that every industry is about to undergo the same transformation. It's just a question of how quickly we want to embrace it.
This is an update to my original article "Everything Is Hyperconnected", written for Wired in 2014.
You've fallen. Perhaps for the fifth time. You can't ignore it any longer so discuss the symptoms with the GP chatbot. The dialogue is brief but pleasant, an appointment is booked on your behalf. At the GP surgery, your arrival has already been recorded and your gait analysed. By the time you see the friendly face of your GP and his AI assistant, they've both concluded the diagnosis from your records and recent history: you need a new hip.
Welcome to the General Practitioner of 2027; where machine learning has already made sense of your medical history, can understand symptoms through a conversational interface, where cameras can analyse how you walk, talk and interact for signs of common conditions ahead of your discussion with your Doctor.
Your friendly GP scans your body and takes a portable x-ray of your hip, the results have been relayed in real-time to the hospital so your new hip can be 3D printed in-situ when you arrive. It'll be embedded with sensors.
You arrive at the hospital in an autonomous vehicle with other patients in your area. It's far more convenient and efficient to operate a specialist autonomous service than have a constant stream of drop-offs by relatives. You're automatically registered at reception as you pass through thanks to biometrics and facial recognition that ambiently track patients as they were picked up and arrive within the grounds.
Time to meet the surgeon. She's imposing but you share a laugh and she puts you at ease. She explains that it'll mostly be assisted by a robot, one that has performed this operation countless times which she runs the operation and team. She shows you your new hip, complete with sensors. You remark how you once read about this stuff over ten years ago and didn't think it would ever happen.
Welcome to the Hospital of 2027; where robots will perform routine operations, freeing up hospital staff and surgeons to perform more complex surgeries, where body parts will be 3D printed on site, where patient records and registrations will update in real-time, and where you will arrive and leave by an autonomous shuttle service.
The surgery is a success. You're lying in bed enjoying a virtual reality experience designed to reduce the reliance on medication and make you feel calmer. The sensors are doing their part, you switch views on the headset to see a picture of your body in real-time with data overlays showing you your biometric signs and the data transmitted from your new hip.
It's time to go. As you're followed through the hospital in your autonomous chair by a nurse, he explains that a robot care assistant has already been assigned at your home. He jokes it has a friendly 'teddy bear face'.
At home, the embedded smarts have already received updated information from your medical records and adjusted living conditions to suit. Your healthcare insurance plan subscriptions have been adjusted, your utilities are moved to a new plan while you convalesce, all transactions and contracts recorded on blockchain.
Alarms have automatically been set to remind you to take the right medication where prescribed, and your robot care assistant stands waiting to help you.
Welcome to patient aftercare in 2027; where on-site robot care assistants will augment nurse home visits, where your smarthome devices act as your health monitors, where the home AI will relay your progress to your GP surgery in real-time, update your medical records, track progress and adjust accordingly compared to national records, where your subscriptions for utilities and third party plans are adjusted in real-time until you recover.
This is just one future example, but the scenario painted has a far bigger impact than on just healthcare. Consider the technologies used;
• Internet Of Things, Sensors
• 3D Printing
• Virtual Reality
• Robotics, AI, Machine Learning
• Enterprise Resource Planning, Supply Chain Management
• Big Data, Cloud, Real-Time Analytics
• Autonomous Vehicles
Now consider the industries needed to make just one futuristic healthcare example happen;
• Smart Home
It's easy to forget that to make one industry work how we envisage it to in the future, we need the others to move at the same pace and connect.
The future of healthcare is in fact tied to the future of every industry, and vice versa. The technologies we define and create today are not merely for one sector but to connect all.
And as technologists, advisors, futurists, it's on our shoulders to show how it can be done.