In the 1998 sci-fi thriller Gattaca, human babies are modified while still in the womb. This is done to provide them with the best chance of success in their lives. If a child’s father suffers from type-2 diabetes, hypertension, or hypoglycemia, this genetic trait can be removed from his son before birth. Mental illnesses including chronic anxiety, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s can also be taken out instantaneously from one generation to the next.
It isn’t possible in real life, at least not now. Yet, technology in health and wellness is not a thing of the future. It is a constant, it has always been. Since the beginning of human existence, people have been looking for ways to stay young, to be healthier, to heal faster, and feel better. As a result, technology has developed hand in hand with medicine; it is the foundation of modern science.
A quarter into the 21st century, technology still plays a vital role in the health and wellness industry. Examples include healthcare facilities, nanotechnology, and real-time diagnostics.
Technology in Healthcare Facilities
In the past, only state-owned and university hospitals had access to the latest medical devices. As such, few people could benefit from them, all at a premium price. In countries like the US and other nations without universal healthcare systems, it would take weeks, even months to get an MRI scan or proper ultrasound.
Things have changed. Nowadays, these machines are not the luxuries of a few but rather basic needs that even a small clinic or private practice should have. Besides, technology has welcomed an era of automation. Machines can check, measure, and diagnose illnesses without the need of a physician or nurse present. From a business standpoint, this represents fantastic opportunities for experts in other fields to become entrepreneurs. Even if I am not a doctor, I can still invest in a physical therapy business or wellness center and be successful.
The best medicine is the medicine that works for you. One person might take an aspirin to cure a headache. A second can choose an Advil while a third will drink a cup of warm water and go to sleep. But what if over-the-counter and prescription drugs were personalized? What if the pill itself were able to adapt to your specific physical conditions and needs?
Nanotechnology not only deals with customization but also individual cell treatment processes. For cancer patients, this means delivering nanoparticles to isolated cancer cells inside the body. As such, the side effects of chemotherapy and the physical and psychological damage caused by the treatment itself could be eliminated.
Whether a treatment is working or not is usually based on time. A medic can’t recognize the efficacy of a drug from a single dosage. Hence, the beauty of real-time diagnostics. Although the technology itself is not yet commercially available, it is fast-developing. Soon, doctors and patients will be able to see the effects of a drug seconds after it has gone into the body.
From a retail perspective, real-time diagnostics technology provides a wide variety of options to companies selling portable health gadgets and self-testing monitors. Along with measuring your glucose levels, temperature, and blood pressure, regular people will soon be able to track changes in liver function, muscle development, and lung condition.
Aside from technology in healthcare facilities, applications in nanotechnology, and real-time diagnostics, there are plenty of other ways in which technology continues to influence the health and wellness industry. Examples are genetic engineering, the use of VR and AR for physical treatments, electronic health records, and AI-based artificial limbs.
And the list keeps growing, expanding, and transforming. Who knows what the future might bring? Perhaps the dystopian society presented in Gattaca is not so far-fetched after all.