Norman's News – Medicine in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Added Wednesday, October 11 2017

One of the seminal events of the Millennium was the human genome project; the complete sequencing of the DNA “alphabet” of sentient life. In 1990, it was nearly unthinkable but the Prize and the unstoppable tide of digital and other new methods meant that the target was exceeded.

Today we have Precision Medicine (aka Personalised Medicine), a widespread recognition that our DNA not only controls our size, shape and colour but also dictates our individual reaction to disease and to the possible drugs and other therapies used in the attempt to treat it. Finding the relevant Biomarker, the key section of the DNA sentence, which relates to each condition in each person, is central to the research in medical schools all across the world and equally here in Northern Ireland. Discovery, technology and invention proceed apace.

So what will going to the Doctor be like in 2030?

Before even attempting to answer, let’s take a look at the rise of the rest of the world of disruptive innovation; what was known or at least guessed at, what was complete science fiction and what came as a complete shock?

Electricity: Michael Faraday famously told skeptical politicians to prepare for one day they would be able to tax electrical power. 200 years on Faraday would recognize the inners of a power station, an electric motor and many electrical goods of today. He might not just believe how ubiquitous they are, the range of scale from hair’s breadth to giants powering excavators with 100 ton buckets.

Computers: The leaders of IBM in 1950, said that the world would never need more than 5 computers, one for each continent. Even by 1980, they couldn’t see beyond corporate use and missed Bill Gates and his operating system that enabled the home PC. Nevertheless, computer architects of the earliest period, would recognize the devices and their designs; they would just be blown over by the low cost, size and the myriad of applications we have for them and how dependent we have become.

So back to my question what will a visit to the doctor look like in 2030?

This was the question posed at the second in the Catalyst Inc series of monthly debates looking at how areas of our lives are being disrupted by accelerations in technology – the 4th Industrial Revolution Challenge (4IRC). The debate focused on the experience of a cancer patient from diagnosis to treatment and how this will be radically improved between today and 2030.. Contributors from oncology, research and pharmaceuticals ensured a wide ranging discussion on where we are today and how advancements in areas such as targeted drug therapy will improve patient experience.  In Northern Ireland we great innovators, already turning gene based ideas and digital connectivity into effective business models in companies such as Randox, Phillips Path XL, Intellisens, Almac, Warner Chilcott and more.

On 7th November, the next debate in our 4IRC series will focus on Blockchain hailed as the next big disruptor which aims to solve an age-old human need; the need to establish trust in an uncertain environment. Advances in the use of Blockchain could disrupt many areas of our lives such as how we access healthcare, how we vote, how our qualifications are shared and the food we eat – what are the opportunites and challenges?

I invite you to join us, help find the answer and then help make it happen!

For more details about the 4IRC debate series go to https://www.connect.catalyst-i...