Future of Healthcare (2023-2028)
This report will cover the biggest changes facing the healthcare industry over the next 5 years.
With new technologies, startups and attitudes towards health changing rapidly, the healthcare space is seeing more changes than ever before.
With this in mind, we present five trends set to make up “the future of healthcare”.
1. Nanotech Inside Our Body
Nanomedicine is a field that studies the potential health-related applications of nanotechnology.
Searches for “nanomedicine” have grown by 37% in the last 12 months.
Nanotechnology’s most promising feature is its ability to further reduce the size of miniature medical devices.
These devices can become small enough to be inserted into the body to monitor and treat various illnesses.
We are already seeing glimpses of this technology's impact on the overall healthcare industry.
For instance, a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University has developed a nanotech device that harvests the energy produced by body movements.
Pacemaker batteries inside the body could soon be replaced by energy generated through the body’s movements.
The device can then use that energy to power and operate other medical devices inside the body, eliminating the need for batteries.
According to Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering, “by 2030, nanobots will be flowing inside our bodies”.
These devices will scan and monitor our cells, blood flow, organs and more to diagnose illnesses as they occur.
Furthermore, some nanorobots may even be able to fight diseases inside our body, reducing the need to visit the hospital and undergo treatment.
Example of nanorobots fighting cancer cells inside the body.
2. 3D-Printed Organs
We are in the midst of a massive organ shortage.
Searches for “organ shortage” have grown by 85% in the last 5 years.
There are over 105,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United States.
On average, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ donor.
Number of patients on transplant waiting list vs number of transplants performed in 2021.
The lack of donors is the primary reason behind this shortage.
But as technology advances, organ shortages might become a thing of the past, thanks largely to the emergence of 3D-printed organs (a.k.a. bioprinted organs).
Searches for “3D printed organ” have grown by 366% in the last 24 months.
Bioprinted organs may also drastically reduce the costs associated with organ transplants.
In the US, the average cost of a kidney transplant was approximately $442K in 2020, making it difficult for many to afford.
Therefore, in addition to addressing the organ shortage, 3D printing also makes organ transplants accessible to a larger number of people.
The main challenge with 3D-printed organs is that scientists have not figured out how to make them work like human organs.
But a Harvard professor claims we are about a decade away from solving all issues with 3D printed organs and making them mainstream.
This means that by 2030, replacing failing/damaged human organs with 3D-printed ones might become standard.
3. Genetic Imperfections Are Edited Out
Over 200 million people across the world live with rare genetic diseases.
And a significant chunk of these diseases develop due to small defects in an individual’s DNA.
Genetic engineering, a process that uses technology to modify a living organism’s DNA, could prove to be a game changer for those suffering from rare genetic conditions.
One increasingly popular genetic engineering technology is CRISPR.
This technology basically slices the DNA, repairs the part causing the disease and then re-attaches the DNA.
How CRISPR works.
Cost is currently the main challenge with this technology.
Jennifer Doudna, a Chemistry Nobel Prize winner for her work on CRISPR gene editing, says that treatment with this method can cost up to $2 million.
But the CEO at Intellia, a company pioneering CRISPR solutions, says that costs will likely go down significantly and CRISPR gene altering could reach mainstream patients “very, very soon”.
Considering these advancements, it will be exciting to see how healthcare will change in the next 15 to 20 years.
Perhaps by 2040, we will have designer babies whose genetic makeup has been altered to wipe out any potential disease.
Designer babies engineered to be “perfect”.
Furthermore, people would no longer suffer from genetic diseases because they can simply go in and change their DNA.
Basically, this would signal the end of the genetic disease as we know it.
4. Healthcare Becomes Personal
Healthcare will likely follow other industries (retail, banking, etc.) in implementing hyper-personalization solutions to better understand and serve their patients.
Searches for “hyper-personalization” have grown by 800% in the last 5 years.
60% of consumers said they choose a provider based on how well the provider knows them.
Whereas 75% of US patients wish their healthcare visits were more personalized.
Benefits of personalized healthcare.
Collecting data will be crucial to properly implement robust personalization healthcare systems.
This means that healthcare providers and patients must work together to record, share and analyze various health and lifestyle metrics.
Personalization has the potential to completely shift the healthcare paradigm. Instead of focusing on treating disease, healthcare providers can work to prevent it.
Meaning that a patient’s information will be used to prevent them from developing various diseases.
Even treatment will be personalized for diseases that cannot be prevented.
Instead of taking a pill manufactured to work with the majority of the population, patients may end up taking medications made specifically for their condition.
Because drugs can be developed for each patient’s overall health condition to make it as effective as possible while almost completely eliminating the risk of side effects.
5. The Aging Process Slows Down
As of 2019, the average life expectancy in the US was approximately 78.79 years.
And breakthroughs in longevity medicine, a preventative healthcare field that focuses on optimizing the individual’s lifespan, will likely further increase life expectancy in the next decade.
Searches for “longevity medicine” have grown in the last 2 years.
But anti-aging will go beyond longevity medicine, and we may figure out how to turn back our biological clock and slow (or entirely stop) aging.
Progress is already being made in this field.
In 2020, a team of scientists at the Harvard Medical School reported they had successfully reversed aging in mice.
More recently, in April 2022, scientists at a biotechnology startup said they had successfully reversed aging in human cells by 30 years.
In a survey of around 400 leaders in the healthcare space conducted by The Economist in 2022, approximately 55.36% said that aging would become a treatable disease in the next 25 years.
Optimism regarding this technology is mainly because there has been a growing inflow of capital into biotech startups working on anti-aging solutions.
Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel and Brian Armstrong are some billionaire entrepreneurs that have invested in similar startups.
One such biotech startup with billionaire backing is AgeX.
This completes our analysis of the future of healthcare.
Technology will likely continue to significantly impact this industry and be a catalyst for major changes.
From nanotechnology to anti-aging, it will be very exciting to see how drastically different healthcare (and life in general) will over the next 5 years.