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As neurologist VSRamachandran said, all disruptive new technologies are rooted in a potentially real, imagined concept, and disruptive computer technology will inevitably bring about major changes in the field of medical health care and life sciences. .

Adapting to new technologies is a slow process, and medical treatment is longer than other disciplines. In 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered the world’s first antibiotic penicillin (Penicillin), the first article on penicillin published in 1929, but has since been tested for effectiveness, toxicological tests, and improvement of the penicillin fermentation process. It took 14 years until 1943 to really solve the problem of mass production of penicillin. On the eve of the Normandy landing, the number of penicillin was enough for American soldiers landing.

▲ World War II slogans (thanks to penicillin, wounded soldiers can safely return home)

A more recent example is laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery was discovered in 1901. It has the advantages of small surgical trauma, little patient pain, and quick recovery time. However, it was not widely used until the 1990s.

The adaptation of the medical industry to new technologies is relatively slow, but the changes brought about by new technologies are often disruptive. The modern history of medicine includes a period of progressive innovations (such as efforts to map genetic maps) and breakthrough innovations triggered by comorbid conditions (such as the development of monoclonal antibodies). The medical system is a complex system that is prone to “butterfly effects” – small changes can produce large impacts and changes. For example, in 1907, the average life expectancy was difficult to reach 45 years. By 2007, the average life expectancy increased to 75 years. This is mainly caused by a significant change in the infant mortality rate. The change in infant mortality rate is achieved through a series of key system reforms. , such as water purification systems and vaccination.

Every industry is now affected by disruptive high technologies, but is the medical system mature enough to make radical changes? In 2009, the HITECH Act authorized the widespread use of electronic medical records (EMR) in the United States. With medical legislation, radical changes can be made in the future through breakthrough software, especially those that can use large, complex databases. We believe this change will happen because the five high technologies of artificial intelligence (AI), big data, blockchain technology, robotics, and 3D printing technology are infiltrating into the medical field.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence software is often used to simply optimize programs (knowledge engineering) or act as statistical learning software (machine learning). Some of these procedures have been used for “clinical decision support” to achieve regular use, but it has not been confirmed that artificial intelligence can replace human assessment.

Now we see hypothesis generation AI programs (contextualization). These programs have the ability to increase the smart threshold, resolve loose connections and find meanings that have not been found before. The IBM company’s Watson software used in medical research is Commercial artificial intelligence using a cognitive computing system.

Advances in machine learning capabilities also increase the threshold for intelligent analysis. The main working principle of AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence program that beats the Go world champion, is deep learning. Through machine learning, the ability of intelligent analysis can surpass the human brain.

In the future, artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role in medical interactions, drug discovery, and treatment plan decisions.

Big Data

Biological data has a certain depth, density and diversity. In the past, unstructured data could not enter the computer system without manual sequencing or incomplete data structures.

However, after the emergence of EMR (Electronic Medical Record), the medical system began to collect unstructured, real-time, comprehensive data. Now computers have been able to use machine learning, natural language processing and advanced text analysis programs to resolve these heterogeneous data.

The changes brought about by Big Data are groundbreaking, allowing the loosely related things to be processed to produce new assumptions.

The early method of association was the “document-based knowledge discovery” method proposed by Prof. D. R. Swanson in the 1880s. The idea was to “discover implicit links between certain knowledge fragments from published, non-relevant literature. On this basis, scientific assumptions or conjectures are put forward, and scientific researchers carry out research or experiments.” In 1986, D.R. Swanson found that some literature documented some abnormalities in the blood of patients with Reynolds disease (such as high blood viscosity), and some literature documented that edible fish oil can correct these abnormalities (such as it can reduce blood viscosity). Through literature correlation research, he proposed the hypothesis that edible fish oil would be beneficial to patients with Raynaud’s disease. It was published in Raynaud’s disease was loosely associated with fish oil. The scientific hypothesis was finally confirmed by clinical experiments. Cases such as migraine and magnesium, Somatomedin-Cand Arginine, and Potential Bio-warfare Agents are also obtained through this method.

It is very difficult to find these associations by artificial means. In the future, relying on the power of big data will be able to discover new connections and knowledge.


The disruption of future blockchain technology may be comparable to the Internet.

A central issue in blockchain resolution is intermediary credit issues. In terms of colloquialism, it is difficult for two previously untrustworthy individuals to cooperate, and it is necessary to rely on third parties, such as transfers and banks. However, through blockchain technology, people can realize mutual trust transfer behavior without mediation. The core technology of blockchain can enable unfamiliar parties to realize mutual trust and achieve decentralization to achieve security. “No number on the blockchain is generated out of thin air. No one number can be eliminated. All the transfer and modification of numbers need to leave a record in the blockchain, so when we see a number, it is not An isolated data, but from the time it was produced to all the processes of transfer, transaction, and modification. Blockchain can give data credit.”

The blockchain provides a decentralized digital ledger. The parties involved in the cooperation can use blockchains to generate smart contracts to improve accuracy and efficiency. Blockchain technology has potential value for clinical trial technology, medical billing, drug supply chain, and identification of patient information transmission.


Medical robot

Medical robots have the potential for disruption because they can dramatically change the scale of production, reproducibility, and location of health services.

The DaVinci robot can manipulate surgical instruments that are smaller than human hand size. Da Vinci robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery have the advantages of less trauma, less postoperative pain and quick recovery, while Da Vinci robot surgery More accurate than laparoscopic surgery, it can avoid the errors caused by long-term surgical fatigue of the doctor and make the surgery more perfect.

▲ Da Vinci Robot

(From left to right: surgeon console, bedside robotic system, imaging system)


Nano-robotics, which is based on molecular biology principles, designs and manufactures “functional molecules” that can operate on nano-spaces. It can be used for non-invasive treatments, cell repairs, and delocalization treatments such as telesurgery or the US military’s Trauma Pod (semi-automated robotic surgical system) to enable remote care.

As early as 1987 in the United States released in the science fiction movie “Amazing Qiqi”, scientists have reduced the number of people and spacecraft down to a few nanometers into the human blood vessels, so that these ultra-miniature “visitors” on the various organs of the human body The direct observation of the situation such as operation, etc., at that time, nano-technology is only a scientific illusion, but it has now become a reality.

▲ Nano Robot (Model)

Nano robots are the most tempting elements in nanobiology. Related data shows that the first generation of nano robots is an organic combination of biological systems and mechanical systems; the second generation of nano robots are assembled directly from atoms or molecules to have specific functions. Nano-scale molecular devices; third-generation nano-robotics will include nano-computers, a device that can conduct human-computer interactions.

Experts predict that it will not take long before the magical nanobots with only the size of a molecule will enter the daily life of human beings.

Medical nano-robots are still in the R&D experiment stage and have not yet entered the clinical practical stage. But what is certain is that in the next few years, nanobots will bring about a medical revolution. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, American inventor and futurist and Google’s engineering director Ray Corswell pointed out that the medical nanobots will connect the human brain and the cloud-brain (cloud computing system) in the future, so that they can improve at that time. Human intelligence and prolong human life, let us look forward to this day as soon as possible.

3D printing

3D printing has the potential to change the medical supply chain by changing drug production, inorganic equipment, prosthetics, or medical inorganic materials.

On August 5th, 2015, the first SPRITAM (Levetiracetam) instant film prepared by the American pharmaceutical company Aprecia using 3D printing pharmaceutical technology ZipDose was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing and 2016 officially sold. SPRITAM is mainly used for the treatment of epilepsy. A prominent feature of Aprecia’s 3D printing tablets is that tablets dissolve quickly and are suitable for patients with dysphagia.

Left: Dissolution of Aprecia’s 3D printed tablets Right: Dissolving ordinary tablets

3D printing is also very promising in terms of tissue engineering, regeneration of damaged or diseased human tissues. The bio-inks used for 3D printing can be served by living cells, cell-supporting hydrogels, extracellular matrices such as collagen, Hydroxyapatite. Researchers at the University of Kansas in Missouri, Columbia, used living cells as a material to develop a bio-inspired ink that they hope will one day be able to complete alternatives such as printing out organ failures, although only in the early stages of testing and development, but 3D printing technology The innovation will certainly bring about a new pattern in the field of medicine.

With the five technologies mentioned above, any progress will greatly change the current status of biomedical sciences. We now have the ability to use intelligent systems to collect a wide range of accurate biological information, structure data results, analyze hypotheses generated through AI systems, generate a 3D printed biological organ, and remotely control these products. So, it’s time to think about how we can shape our future with these tools.

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