Archive Megatrends 2018

It's Time to Get Excited About What's Next

Q&A with Thomas Frey, futurist and revolutionary thinker about tomorrow's possibilities.

Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey


Thomas Frey

What's contributing to the explosion of surgical advancements?

Incredible amounts of information about new technologies and clinical developments are communicated in near real time, which gives us the ability to keep our fingers on the pulse of advances that are occurring around the world. We're transitioning from the physical world to the digital world. As technology becomes increasingly digital, an exponential growth curve kicks in and change is accelerated.

How will patient care be different in the coming years?

Healthcare providers will work to stay ahead of injuries and diseases instead of treating them once they occur. We might soon be able to introduce nanobyte sensors into our bodies to fix what's wrong. Electronic tattoos will perform 24-hour physiological analyses, so there will be a constant data stream coming from patients that healthcare providers can tap into. That will dramatically shift the way patients are monitored in the OR. We're right on the edge of having these capabilities.

How much will data influence patient care?

Significantly. Self-diagnostic technology is developing and computer companies are looking at the human genome as just another coding language to develop algorithms that determine how to best treat patients or the best surgery to perform. Surgeons will be more like the conductor of an orchestra instead of the sole decision-maker in the OR. Their role will ultimately be to handle exceptions to normal surgical care.

What would you say to those who fear the ever-changing wired world?

Change is happening quickly, so embrace the adoption curve. Our noble purpose is to be constantly on the lookout for the newest technologies and figure out how they can be used most effectively. Let's go for it.

Why is patient-centered care still important in a digital world?

We're social creatures by nature, so we should never undermine the value of the human touch. I'm very wary of the development and implementation of chatbots, which lack the human qualities that are so critical in health care. Humans are hugely flawed, but that's part of our humanness. We need to embrace that and make sure we don't lose that moving forward. OSM

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