I'll touch upon her list shortly, but my immediate thought was about health tech's equivalent list. There certainly is a lot of health tech that should be headed to the graveyard, but, knowing healthcare's propensity to hang on to its technology way too long, I had to modify her more optimistic headline to say "should" instead of "will."
One can always hope.
Here's Ms. Stern's list:
- Cords and ports: "Our homes, cars and offices will have all the wireless chargers integrated," Sanjay Gupta of the AirFuel Alliance told her.
- Credit cards and keys: She points to efforts like Amazon Go, where sensors, camera, and AI keep track of what you are doing and make these unnecessary.
- Oversized smartphones: "The private displays of the future will be in glasses and contacts; public displays in the physical world will be on most surfaces," Alan Kay predicts.
- Dedicated cameras: "In a decade, using a dedicated camera will seem as quaint as placing a needle on a record," says Ms. Stern, with ubiquitous embedded cameras rendering them outdated.
- Living room boxes: "Instead of a dedicated box with a DVD drive and lots of graphics horsepower, the games and the computing power will live in the cloud," she believes..
- Smart speakers: As Ms. Sterns sees it, "Microphones, speakers and voice assistants will live all around us—in our kitchen appliances, car dashboards, computers, glasses, showers and more."
Pretty cool list, and hard to argue with. So, in return, here's my healthcare tech list (not all of which are gadgets per se):
1. Faxes: You knew it had to be at the top of the list. Anyone under thirty who knows how to work a fax machine probably works in healthcare. The reason faxes persist is because they supposedly offer some security advantages, but one suspects inertia plays at least a big a role.
There are other options that can be equally "secure," while making the information digital. CMS Director Seema Verma has called to make doctors' offices "a fax-free zone by 2020." That doesn't appear to be happening, but 2030 seems like a realistic goal.
2. Phone Trees: We've all had to call healthcare organizations -- doctors' offices, testing facility, health plans, etc. Most times, you first have to navigate a series of prompts to help specify why you are calling, presumably to get you closer to the right person. There are probably studies that show it saves money for the companies that use them, and perhaps some that even claim its saves customers time, but this is not a technology most people like.
I don't want to have to figure out how to navigate the phone tree. Honestly, I don't want to make those mundane, administrative phone calls -- which healthcare seems to be full of -- at all. By 2030 I want my AI -- Alexa, Siri, etc. -- to deal directly with the companies' AI to spare me from phone trees.
3. Multiple health records: I have at least five distinct health records that I know of, only two of which communicate to the other at all. For people with more doctors and/or more complex health issues, I'm sure the situation is even worse.
EHRs are old technology, the cable of healthcare. They're oriented around the people delivering care, and around what happens in the office/facility, rather than the person whose health they are supposed to be tracking or where most of that health happens. The technology exists to collect a broad range of health data for each of us, on an ongoing basis, make sense of it fo us, and communicate it as appropriate to the healthcare professionals who need it. By 2030, we should each have a single health record that reflects the broad range of our health.
4. Stethoscopes: You've seen them. Your doctor probably has one. Find the oldest photographs of doctors that exist and you might find them with stethoscopes; they are that old.
"It’s a relic. It’s rubber tubes,” Dr. Eric Topol said about stethoscopes. "It has very little utility compared to how it continues to be so highly revered.” It's not that they are useless, but as it is that there are better alternatives, such as handheld ultrasounds or even smartphone apps. For Pete's sake, people are working on real-life tricorders. By 2030, seriously, can we be using its 21st century alternatives?
5. Endoscopes: Perhaps you've had a colonoscopy or other endoscopic procedure; not much fun, right? We do a lot of them, they cost a lot of money (at least, in the U.S.), and they involve some impressive technology, but they're outdated.
By 2030, we should be using things like ingestible pill cameras, with ingestible robots to take any needed samples or even conduct any microsurgery. These are technologies that exist, should get both better and cheaper, and would certainly make patients' lives easier.
6. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is literally a lifesaver for many cancer patients, and a life-extender for many others. We're constantly getting new breakthroughs in it, allowing more remissions or more months of life. But it can pose a terrible burden -- physically, emotionally, and financially -- on the people getting it. The side effects can be painful at best and devastating at worst,.
Chemotherapy has been likened to carpet bombing, with significant collateral damage. Increasingly, there are alternatives that are more like "smart bombing" -- precision strikes that target only cancer cells, either killing or inhibiting them. With targeted therapies, perhaps delivered by nanobots, we can have much less drastic adverse impacts. By 2030, perhaps cancer patients won't fear the treatments almost as much as the cancer.
|Nanobots fighting cancer. Credit: Healthline|
Healthcare certainly has no shortage of technology that we should hope today's toddlers will never have to use or experience. The above are just six suggestions, and you may have your own examples. We can make these happen, by 2030; the question is, will we?