The Sci-Fi Future of Healthcare Data

It’s curious how the use of data in healthcare is occurring within both the public and private sectors, and on an individual and national scale. The results are saving money, making money, reducing illness and predicting the future, and all have the capacity to fundamentally change healthcare and thus the lives of many.

We examine some of the ways in which data is being used in new ways to solve healthcare issues.

Care.data – by the NHS

Take, for example, the NHS data sharing scheme in England, which will compile anonymised records to the Care.data database. Researchers believe the information “will be vital in helping develop new treatments as well as assessing the performance of NHS services.”

The scheme was set up in order to improve that quality of care by filling in the gaps in information across the UK by collecting and making use of health data.

While the scheme has been met with setbacks and delays, it runs as an interesting parallel to apps such as Exist.io which allow users to capture sleep patterns, exercise regimes and eating habits to quantify and analyse the ‘data of our lives’. It then allows users to figure out which patterns lead to the best moods, sentiments and results.

There are countless sleeping, eating, fertility, breastfeeding and exercising apps on the market, all of which grab the data of our existence and turn it into useful, actionable information with which to optimise our lives.

Imagine how the data of many hundreds of individuals might benefit the NHS? What trends and habits could they spot then? And how might that lead to illness-battling solutions?

Wearable tech

We’re familiar with Apple’s Watch, FitBit and Puls – useful, flashy wrist apparel that’s inherently social. But this expensive gadgetry pales into insignificance when compared with the work of Google and Novartis who are developing a contact lens for diabetics; it will alert the wearer, and those looking at them, to changes in blood sugar levels. Now that is truly powerful wearable tech that’s pushing the boundaries of where the Internet of Things will take us.

Nanobots

Opportunities for technology to improve our wellbeing are growing all the time. As Business Life reports, “Our ability to fit sensors into just about everything and process the data they collect has enormous implications for healthcare.”

‘DNA nanorobots’ are being developed at Harvard Medical School which are capable of destroying ‘cells in distress’- cancer, in other words. They’ve also spent time injecting all sorts of nanobots into cockroaches to help deliver drugs and potentially be used to sophisticatedly diagnose or treat diseases.

Big data

Big data is already in use by the NHS, for example to predict “down to postcode level how many people in a 10-house area will develop type 2 diabetes and respiratory problems in 20 years”.

Mark Cooke, Head of IT services and operations at C5 Alliance, a Jersey-based solutions provider and high-tech consultancy believes there is huge potential here to save money and lives by using large data sets, such as those captured by consumer fitness and wellbeing apps.

There is an enormous opportunity for data to drive real results in healthcare. Perhaps we’re looking at a future where we all voluntarily capture our own health data – because of the immediate and actionable information it provides – and choose to share that data with the NHS via effortless reporting.

Could the future of the NHS be based around a handful of powerful apps, seamlessly and silently working hard to capture our healthcare data? What do you think? Let us know below or interact with us over @themediaoctopus!