2014-04-29

4 Encouraging Trends From The Future Of Health Care

From self-tracking tools to printable prosthetics, a massive wave of innovation is just starting to change the health care field. As patients, here's what we can expect.

Health care is changing. It's more data-driven, more personal, more empowering, more flexible. PSFK Labs's latest Health Trends Report rounds up 13 areas of innovation, distributing them into four categories. We picked a few of the most interesting trends in health care innovation from each:

Nudging

New tools and incentives are "helping people better track and understand their behaviors" and "encouraging them to make healthier lifestyle choices," the report says. That includes blood-cell monitoring, gadgets that track and record what we eat, pulse monitors, and breath-testing equipment. New incentives include schemes run by retailers (like Walgreens) and insurers, work wellness services, and weight-loss clubs. Gamification is another trend: Games can teach new practices, as in this game from Austria that shows young diabetes sufferers when to take insulin.

Here are some interviews PSFK did on these themes:

Empowering

Technology gives us access to data about our health, allows us to gather advice and to self-diagnose—all before ever going to a doctor. From the app that checks your urine for disease, to devices like Scandu that read out your vital signs, technology is moving to the level of the patient. People also have more information, can look up procedures, compare hospital costs, and get more social support.

Distributing care

Health care is moving to the cloud. Networks offer new "commons" for doctors to share research and advice. Doctors can look up medical records more easily, do remote house calls, and develop treatment plans based on larger pools of data.

Augmenting care

Innovations in this category include "embedded vital monitors" (chips, tattoos, and sensors stuck on or inserted under the skin); overlaying visualizing technology (like this Google Glass surgery); and printable features (like prosthetics) that can be made right there in the hospital. In the future, doctors may even be able to print skin, ears, and bone for quick surgical fixes, the report says.

[Image: Abstract via Shutterstock]

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