So, what are these advances, over the timeframe to 2025?
1. Mobile Internet
2. Automation of knowledge work
3. Internet of Things
5. Advanced robotics
6. Autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles
7. Next-generation genomics
8. Energy storage
9. 3-D printing
10. Advanced materials
11. Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery
12. Renewable energy
McKinsey note key applications for each of these, some of which are related to digital health.
McKinsey predict the mobile internet (#1) could enable a 10-20% reduction in the cost of treating chronic disease through remote monitoring. But of course there are a wealth of other mHealth and telehealth applications, many of which have been discussed here in previous posts.
Cited health care benefits of knowledge work automation (#2) are the application of diagnostics and drug discovery, for example using intelligence systems like IBM’s Watson
The Internet of things (#3) will enable huge productivity improvements in health care according to the report. Devices to monitor or manage health are not restricted to mobile types, so stationary devices, such as a personal weigh scale, will become connected to the Internet.
The Cloud (#4) is of growing importance to provide access to resources to support many of the other advances and integrate their findings. For example mobile health applications and ‘Internet things’ will upload monitoring data for storage and potentially additionally processing and diagnostic review (knowledge work automation).
Advanced robotics (#5) have the, “Potential to improve the lives of 50 million amputees and those with impaired mobility.” Key applications cited include robotic surgery and human augmentation.
While there is no obvious direct application to healthcare of autonomous or near-autonomous vehicles (#6), the potential to reduce the loss of 30,000-150,000 lives to car accidents is huge. But automated ambulances, and vehicles able to access remote or dangerous locations, perhaps carrying remote surgical robotics, are possibilities.
Next generation genomics technologies (#7) are obviously applicable to health in a wide variety of ways.
Energy storage (#8) does not have a cited impact on health care, but clearly there are a large number of applications. Mobile devices and many stationary ones depends on batteries, and the life of these batteries impacts the time before recharging is required, the rate at which energy can be used to process data, and the practical communications bandwidth.
3-D printing (#9) applications include bioprinting of tissues and organs. For me these are perhaps the most revolutionary. Previous efforts to grow tissues in culture were severely limited by an inability to guide cells to form the required structures and to correctly organize and integrate many different cell types in those structures. 3-D printing has other health applications, some of which may be nearer term, including printing replacement joints and cranial plates.
The tenth technological advance, advanced materials, will be especially important in the development of medical and health sensors, and potentially nanomedicine.
Only the last two of the 12 identified disruptive technologies do not have an obvious, significant impact on digital healthcare.
In addition to the full report, McKinsey provide an executive summary, a helpful gallery of slides and an overview podcast.