Technology is revolutionizing every industry, increasing productivity and making processes more efficient. One of the most exciting areas benefiting from the latest software is healthcare, where innovations stand to save lives. Increasingly, medical professionals are getting excited about the changes that tech will eventually bring, since they realize the power artificial intelligence has to revolutionize disease treatment.
At one time, advanced therapies were available only to the most affluent patients, who could afford to pay top dollar for them. Thanks to technology, however, these advanced therapies are now accessible to patients of all economic means, with those therapies gradually becoming standard. Innovative companies are working alongside the medical community to come up with treatments for complex and rare disease groups that previously were untreatable.
Unfortunately, despite all this hard work, more than a billion people across the world still can’t get access to the basic medical insight necessary to keep them healthy. As a result, 150 million suffer financially in addition to putting their health at risk. With so many companies across the world working hard to come up with treatments, it would seem that these numbers would gradually dwindle, but unfortunately, each entity is working separately.
Academic institutions come up with cutting-edge treatments every year, but putting that new technology to use in a cost-efficient manner brings new challenges. Because of these challenges, those treatments never make it to patients in the U.S., let alone in developing areas of the world. For example, the scientific community has put an emphasis on stem cell collection and preservation in lieu of existing treatments that are already working in regenerative medicine, but consumers only hear about these treatments on the evening news, rarely seeing them as an option for their own health issues.
Planning for the Future
The medical profession has long realized that stem cells could someday be the key to treating everything from cancer to heart disease. That day is soon approaching and in some cases it has already arrived. Today, the promise of regenerative and personalized medicine is a reality. Healthy stem cells are already being used to essentially “repair” deteriorating building blocks in our body.
Right now, as more and more therapies show promise in clinical trials - patients in need are forced to seek out alternatives to using their own stem cells such as stem cell transplantation (using another individual's healthy stem cells). Why is this happening? Consumers are generally reactive instead of proactive. They haven’t preserved their own stem cells yet.
Why is this important? Preserving stem cells is similar to buying insurance for a person’s future, since those cells can be called upon later for a person’s health needs. If patients fail to preserve their stem cells while they’re healthy, they run an increased risk of not being able to take advantage of the most advanced therapies in the future. It’s already happening today and will only increase over time. Scientists say that alternative solutions will never be as effective as using your own stem cells, your own building blocks. However similar to insurance, if it’s too complex and costly; consumers will seek out alternative solutions.
To solve this, Silene Biotech launched the only FDA-registered and fully compliant direct-to-consumer stem cell preservation service that eliminates the need for a costly, invasive outpatient procedure. Silene Biotech helps people store their stem cells, and requires only a simple blood draw that can be done at home or at a partner donor center.
Another company heavily investing in the future is 23andMe, which is mostly known as a genetic testing service. Since 2015, however, they’ve been researching ways that they can use that DNA to improve drug development. When a customer sends in a DNA kit, there is an option to allow their information to be used anonymously for pharmaceutical research. As a result of their work, 23andMe says it has developed 17 new markers leading to a risk of Parkinson’s Disease. Both Silene Biotech and 23andMe are working to democratize health data as well as bring more scientific knowledge to the world.
The Global Solution
Collaboration is the key to improving health on a global basis and several companies are working hard to make sure that happens. One such company is the Human Diagnosis Project (Human Dx), which has introduced a system that crowdsources physician intelligence to streamline treatments for various illnesses. Instead of each physician working separately, this electronic consultation (eConsult) technology will save medical professionals time and money, since they can access information from specialists in even the rarest diseases.
Another crowdsourcing solution that stands to change medicine is CrowdMed, which combines physician input with predictive technology to improve patient care. Each case entered into CrowdMed is overseen by a licensed physician who serves as a moderator, utilizing the expertise of more than 20,000 medical professionals and other members, some of whom are not in the medical field. Through chat and discussion, this group offers suggestions and support based on a patient’s medical history and symptoms, which that person can then take to his or her own medical professional.
Worldwide, women's’ health is a growing concern, with higher death rates in parts of the world where screenings and preventive exams aren’t readily available. POC Medical has its sights set on breast cancer, which is a leading cause of death in women worldwide. With their mobile screening kit, the company has reduced healthcare costs from hundreds of dollars to less than three dollars per session. In addition, they stand to save lives as their technology enters widespread use.
Fertility is another important concern for women, and it’s one that companies are working hard to address. One of those businesses, Glow, delivers accurate cycle projections to help women know when they are most fertile. Glow boasts more than eight million women in its community, with more than a half a million pregnancies having been recorded on its app. In addition to helping women, the company also works directly with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by providing data to help with fertility prediction algorithms.
Keeping consumers healthy is a top priority for tech innovators across the country. Whether they’re addressing a specific consumer segment or targeting a specific healthcare concern, these businesses stand to make a big difference in health care moving forward, especially if they collaborate with medical professionals in order to do so.