Science fiction will be non fiction for new generation

Adelaide, or Addie, will be born in August 2017. When she arrives, she will face a future much different than her grandfather did when he was born in the late 1950's.

Addie will have an expected lifespan that is about 20-25 years longer than her grandfather because of advances in healthcare. A recent article in the Lancet medical journal shows that most babies born in industrialized nations today will live into the triple digits.

Science FictionBreakthroughs in DNA and genomics will revolutionize care. There will also be advances in personalized medicine and diagnosis. Many diseases may be eradicated and the introduction of bio-printed tissue, organ regeneration, new technologies, artificial intelligence, big data, and personalized drugs will have astounding effects on health care and quality of life.

Addie will live in a transformational world of patient care, one that will be vibrant and constantly improving to ensure the best in personalized care, very much how the best hospitality and retail organizations work today.

Until her grandfather (or, Pops) explains it to her, she won't know that generations before her did not have access to DNA, genomics, and massive databases of information that could help with curing patients, or planning health care based on genetic profiles. She won't know what it was like to live a life before artificial and augmented reality. Many of the diseases of her grandfather's generation will be eliminated including kidney, heart, liver and lung diseases. Many of the cancers of today will also be eliminated or minimized due to the ability to extend life with the new advances in care. Immunotherapy will fight cancer and precision medicine will use patient immune cells or mass-produced checkpoint inhibitors to free the immune system to kill cancer cells.

Addie will have a greater awareness of her health unlike previous generations who only thought about health care when they got sick. The advances and new technologies available for Addie will allow her to know in advance and "real-time" what her risks are and how best to mitigate them. If she has a genetic risk for heart disease she may be able to bank a heart for a future transplant. Technology will likely advance to provide constant real time measures of health risks rather than the episodic tests done today during an annual physical or when someone is feeling ill. Early diagnosis will result in better outcomes and lower acuity.

By the time Addie is 15 years old, she will be surrounded by intelligent machines as smart as humans because of the advances of quantum computers. Quantum computing will serve to detect cancer earlier, develop more effective drugs by mapping amino acids, analyzing DNA-sequencing data, and will help doctors discover and design superior drug-based treatments. Through DNA testing, she will know which diet and exercise program works best for her metabolism to turn nutrition into energy. Antioxidants that target mitochondria will slow down her aging process, while providing an immunosuppressant with both antifungal and antineoplastic properties.

The greatest challenges that will face Addie as it relates to her health will be environmental. As the population grows and people live longer, how will the world's standard of living advance? What will be the jobs for this growing and aging populous? Will there be a middle class or will technology eliminate the need for lower wage jobs? These social economic factors will most definitely affect health care.

The last great frontier for medical advances and breakthroughs for Addie's generation will be brain research. Can we eliminate Alzheimer's, dementia, epilepsy, migraines, and mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disease and depression? There is so much to learn about the brain and advances in brain research will be critical.

There is work to be done to transform health care, and it's exciting to see the advances in health care by all these great scientists and innovators who are creating a better tomorrow for us and generations to come. For Adelaide and future loved ones, we are passionate about creating a safer and healthier world. Adelaide is my granddaughter and I can't wait to meet her in August. I know that she will make the world a better place!

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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