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What to expect in medicine in 20 years

The 70-page "The Future of Medicine" attempts to envision changes over the next 25 years based on the thoughts of futurists and experts in various fields.

Their work, they said, is about more than making predictions, although the report is full of specific forecasts. They sought to spark debate in cities like Buffalo over how to be ready for and take advantage of the impending disruptive forces in the health care industry.

Why Jeremy Jacobs is imagining the future of health care

In five years, expect:

  • Genomic testing of IVF embryos will allow parents to select the embryo with the lowest risk factors for future disease.
  • The FDA will consider a drug’s price in its approval process, allowing drug competition and price competition.
  • Hospital networks will have huge, centralized command centers for remote monitoring of patients.
  • A drug class known as checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies will replace chemotherapy as the first-line intervention for half of cancers.
  • Driverless cars will reduce accident rates by 90 percent, eliminating more than 2.25 million visits to emergency rooms.

In 10 years, expect:

  • Virtual reality headsets for Alzheimer’s patients will be used daily to stave off the disease.
  • For those who can afford it, a process called parabiosis, injections of blood plasma from healthy young people, will prolong the period of our lives where most of us stay fairly disease free.
  • By clearing the body of senescent cells and their toxic signals, stem cells in 40-year-old knees will again grow cartilage.
  • Back surgery, currently driving 7 percent of operating room budgets, will be far less common as other treatments replace it,

In 20 years, expect:

  • A programmable flu “shot” will mean an end to the yearly needle.
  • Nanoparticle swimmers guided by magnets will clear arterial plaques.
  • Transplants of organs from anybody will be possible by using CRISPR gene editing to tweak the immune receptors that identify transplanted organs as foreign.
  • Medicine looks more like construction, with general contractors (doctors) managing different teams (subcontractors) with the help of checklists, protocols, and artificial intelligence.
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