Introduction of research capacities and relevant technology can help adopt holistic approach of creating a healthcare system where innovations will be a sustainable instrument to value-based healthcare. This is true only when digital darwinism (a phenomenon when technological advances exceed societal, organizational and regulatory growth) can be prevented and transparent pricing mechanism can be introduced for the new cure. For convenient and mass healthcare, net zero waste can be adopted that can save precious resources. Few examples of healthcare shiny objects that have not yet made to the consumer friendly application include:
Regenerative medicine is the use of human cells (onto another) to rejuvenate or regenerate another human tissues. However, this technology is not widely applicable and the commercial cost is not determined. It is also unclear whether the application of regenerative medicine will be significantly better than that of conventional care.
This technology also brings in the ethical concerns of using stem-cell-based therapy. Once these backlogs are cleared, regenerative medicine can be adopted for widespread clinical practice.
Gene transfer involves inserting a particular set of genes into another living cells to enhance the host’s adaptability, response mechanism to complex diseases or to provide specific proteins/antigens that are lacking in the patient. However, treatment costs of gene therapy can exceed $1 million and there is limited data available on long-term efficacy.
Such treatments require similar dataset for sustenance of the patient’s immune system, and minimizing the post operating negative effects. Without such data, gene therapy cannot be integrated into clinical practice at a transformative scale.
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Robotics has the potential of operating many healthcare-related tasks that require efficiency and precision handling. For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics can be used to sterilize and decontaminate medical apparatus, operate critical surgeries, and improve drug compounding preparation. AI-enabled apps can offer simulated environments through virtual reality (VR) that can be used as training tool for surgeons to improve health outcomes.
Driverless autonomous cars can take patients to their appointments or designated health kiosks. Pharmacy automated robots can prescribe medicine or remind the patients to take the medicine on time. Although such technologies are now in use, full potential of the technology is yet to be realized.
Extremely high cost of introducing and maintaining these technologies is a big challenge in some cases (e.g., for surgical robots). As the cost-benefit analysis is yet to be calculated, it is also unclear whether introducing robotics for mass application will justify the additional cost.
Although massive investment in healthcare innovation and R&D is needed, it should be kept in mind to prioritize the practical availability and affordability of such technologies. Innovation is for the greater good of human race. Most of the poor countries in the world require affordable, and convenient healthcare system. Unless the technologies are not transformed for general use for this population, innovation of new technologies in healthcare cannot be justified.
An engineer turned energy analyst, Riasat Noor is a research-savvy professional with experience in wide spare of power & energy verticals and expertise in quantitative and qualitative analysis. He has worked in the areas of energy value chain, sustainability reporting and investment in the energy sector. A seasoned copy editor, Riasat has authored several peer-reviewed journals and publications on energy connectivity, and appeared in flagship platforms such as UNIDO, GSCASS, Eurasian Forum (YES-Forum) and APEC Energy Working Group. Riasat also specializes in multi-country market research and speaks widely on energy security & carbon pricing, as well as writes on innovation, digitization, and business intelligence.