5 min read

Life or Death

Oct 1, 2014

The healthcare system is massively broken.

It’s not healthcare. It’s sick care.

It’s reactive, retrospective, bureaucratic and expensive.

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First the bad news:

  • Doctors spend $210 billion per year on procedures that aren’t based on patient need, but fear of liability.
  • Americans spend, on average, $7,290 per person on healthcare – more than any other country on the planet.
  • Prescription drugs cost around 50% more in the U.S. than in other industrialized countries.
  • At current rates, by 2025, nearly ¼ of the US GDP will be spent on healthcare.
  • It takes on average 12 years and $359 million to take a new drug from the lab to a patient.
  • Only 5 in 5,000 of these new drugs make it to human testing. From there, only 1 of those 5 is actually approved for human use.

And Now, the Good News:

We are in the midst of a (medical) revolution driven by exponential technology: artificial intelligence, smart sensors, robotics, 3D printing, big data, genomics and stem cells.

Today’s $3.8 trillion dollar healthcare industry is in the deceptive phase of its march towards dematerialization, demonetization and democratization (as I discuss in my A360 Summits).

What does that mean? Imagine a time within the next 10 years when:

  • Smart Sensors and Artificial Intelligence democratize and demonetize accurate diagnosis. Where an autonomous health scan is identical for the poorest on Earth and a billionaire in Manhattan.
  • Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it.
  • When robotic surgeons can carry out a perfect operation (every time) for pennies on the dollar.
  • When each of us can regrow a heart, liver, lung of kidney when we need it instead of waiting for the donor to die.

These breakthroughs are materializing because of the convergence of the following key accelerating technologies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

AI will enable better diagnoses and personalized medical recommendations.

  • Johnson & Johnson is teaching IBM’s Artificial Intelligence called Watson to read and understand scientific papers that detail clinical trial outcomes.
  • One such Watson system contains 40 million documents, ingests an average of 27,000 new documents per day, and provides insights for thousands of users.
  • After only one year, Watson’s successful diagnosis rate for lung cancer is 90 percent, compared to 50 percent for human doctors.

Smart Sensors:

Wearables, connected devices, and quantified-self apps will allow us to collect enormous amounts of useful health information.

  • Wearables like the Quanttus wristband and Vital Connect can transmit your electrocardiogram data, vital signs, posture and stress levels anywhere on the planet.
  • Google is developing a smart contact lens that can monitor the wearer’s blood sugar levels for diabetic patients.
  • The $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is bringing the Star Trek Tricorder to life in the next 15 months – not for a doctor or nurse, but for you, the consumer.

Robotics:

The precision, accuracy, and mobility of medical robotics will allow us to serve more humans around the world, faster and cheaper.

  • Over 1.5 million surgeries worldwide have been performed by Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci robotic system using 3D HD vision inside the body, with precise movements that don’t have the tremors of a human hand.
  • Companies like Suitable Technology’s BEAM, and InTouch health allow top physicians to beam into locations around the world for consultation and rounds at hospitals.

3D Printing:

On-demand manufacturing will make medical devices cheaper and more readily accessible to millions, and it will make scarce resources like organs-for-transplant abundantly available.

  • 3D Systems is 3D printing precise dental and anatomical models, custom surgical guides, implantable devices, exoskeletons, hearing aids, prosthetics and braces for scoliosis and other applications.
  • Students at Washington University 3D printed a robotic arm for about $200. Traditional robotic limbs can run $50,000 to $70,000, and they need to be replaced as children grow.
  • Dr. Anthony Atala’s team are 3D bioprinting with cells to produce tissues, blood vessels and even small organs.

Genomics & Big Data:

The cost of genome sequencing has plummeted 100,000-fold, from $100M per genome in 2001 to $1,000 per genome today… outpacing Moore’s Law by 5x.

  • At Human Longevity Inc., our mission is to accumulate the largest genomics data set ever. We will sequence over 1 million full human genomes, microbiomes, MRI body image scans, metabolomes, and more…
  • Next, with that large data set, we’ll be able to unlock the secrets of our biology. We’ll find insights into and cures for cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease, and ultimately extend the human lifespan.

Also read: TOP 50 MOON SHOTS (2000 - 2020)

Stem Cells:

We are now in the earliest stages of stem cell therapy development. Future therapies will be transformative and, frankly, mind-boggling.

  • Stem cell therapy promises tissue regeneration and renewal – and thus a “cure” for everything from blindness to spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, burns, cancer and osteoarthritis.
  • In 2012, researchers at Cedars-Sinai reported one of the first cases of successful therapeutic stem cell treatment – they used patients’ own stem cells to regenerate heart tissue and undo damage from a heart attack.

Conclusions

The disruption and transformation of medicine is happening right now. That’s why each year I work with Dr. Daniel Kraft, head of the Medicine track at Singularity University, to hold an amazing 3-day event that brings all of the coolest and most powerful technologies together at an event called Exponential Medicine.

If you’d like to attend this click here. It’s my pleasure to extend to you a significant discount to attend. Just enter the code XMEDPHD to get a $750 discount on the general ticket and a $1,000 discount on the VIP ticket.

And if you’re interested in discussing and exploring the impact of these converging technologies with me, I run a mastermind group of CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs. I coach them on how to turn their success into significance and positively impact the future.

It’s called Abundance 360. 

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Peter H. Diamandis

Written by Peter H. Diamandis

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