Step 1: The diagnosis
Karla is a fictional person. She lives in the year 2040 in a central European city and is 45 years old. She is a non-smoker, is active in sport and is a flexitarian – a quite normal diet in the year 2040 in urban settings. Yet in the future people still suffer from stress. Karla also has a genetic pre-disposition that increases her risk of cardiovascular disease. And now it has happened: Heart attack. Emergency lights. Hospital. But what is it like for a sick person in the year 2040? Does the health care system operate exactly the same way as today? We are going to take a tour with Karla of the hospital of the future.
"I am an optimist. I believe that a major problem with the health care system will have disappeared in ten to twenty years", says Burkhard Rost, a professor of bioinformatics at the Technical University of Munich, who is a researcher in the field of computational biology. Currently strict data privacy laws still prevent the networking of all the actors in the health care system. "Hospitals, doctors and even individual departments inside the hospital can barely communicate and exchange data with each other", says Rost. But he believes that it will soon be possible to tap into the vast wealth of data that currently exists – blood test results, hereditary dispositions, data from experiments, studies or smartphone apps. "In the field of molecular medicine, more data was generated in the year 2015 than over the entire period from 1990 to 2005", says Rost.
Each year the volume of all medical data grows exponentially in which researchers and doctors could discover interconnections and cures if they were able and authorized to use the data. Patients today therefore often have to undergo tests many times. "For this reason, we lose valuable resources and time while a patient is suffering", says Rost.