How will the typical doctor’s patient differ in the 2020s. Well I am already seeing a big shift in behaviours since I first qualified as a doctor. We are speeding away from the days when a patient waited until they had a medical symptom, a face full of wrinkles or lacking in energy before a visit to a doctor. This shift in behaviour has occurred with huge advancement in biotechnology, preventative education and improved accessibility to a variety of health options.
Biotech now allows people to monitor their bloods, hormones and nutrient levels fast, accurately and effectively with just a finger prick test at home. Blood sugar, high cholesterol, low testosterone and deranged liver functions are some blood examples that can all be discovered early and addressed before they can become problematic. With smart watches and phones, it won’t be long before these biomarkers are talking to your devices and giving you real time advice.
This is just a snap shot of the health of your body though. Underlying this biotechnology has paved the way for genetic testing, fast and much more affordable. Understanding your genetic risk to diseases and how your body interacts with nutrients, both macro and micro can build on this picture and allow for truly individualised approaches to preventative health.
Putting this all together with the new science of exercise, supplementation and mindfulness the shift is beginning. I am sure at the end of the decade many of us will have small devices with tiny sensors reading the body’s information in real time, feeding it back to our watches and phones, alerting us to move some more, avoid sugar as the body’s glucose level is high or even alert a person to seek medical attention.
Personalised monitoring and preventative strategies are certainly outlining the route in which things are shifting in healthcare and I believe this is the right shift. Practising 20th century medicine of addressing symptoms, investigation only once symptoms have occurred, non-accurate diagnoses (not DNA sampling of tumours and bugs) and broad treatment protocols (best for the population, not the individual) is fast becoming out dated with biotechnology and these behaviour changes. We will hopefully see the doctor’s role in the next decade shifting to preventative strategies and support of disease avoidance and not symptom management.
Dr Michael Barnish, Head of Genetics and Nutrition, REVIV Global Ltd.