The Future of Medicine.

So I gave my thoughts on health care reform, now some quick thoughts on the future of medicine. (I am a science-fiction writer after all.)
Three basic scenarios in my opinion. All of these are looking at the state of medical science about the year 2050.

Scenario One: The Conservative Nightmare.
Financial crash due to bloated spending and regulatory overload kills innovation and development. We haven’t progressed much beyond where we are now. Very little research being done as nearly all medical science dollars are consumed in treatment. With or without healthcare reform the government is buried under a crushing load of debt and bills to care for its population.

Scenario Two: The Liberal Nightmare.
Breakthroughs lead of significant advances in health and life extension, but the costs are high. The processes can not be made cheaper by economy of scale or mass production and only the well-off can afford top-end care. For the wealthy life is very good. Disease and morbidity are things that happen to other people. As side from trauma, there is little to fear health-wise and maybe even aging itself can be prevented. For the poor and most of the world it’s a game of watch as the rich go on and on while you get sick and die. Expect vast social upheaval and disruption as this is not a stable system in my opinion.

Scenario Three: Medical Transformation.
The way computer sciences changed our world, advances in medical science make the world of 2050 as unlike todays as our computers are to roman numerals. Quick and easy genetic testing and treatments means that everyone get treatment and drugs designed for their unique genome. Treatment of disease is cheap and plentiful. Healthcare for all is taken for granted because it costs so little. People live long and productive lives without the infirmities and indignities of old age today. Our decedents look upon our medical treatments of today the way we look on witch-doctors and leeches.

The question is — which scenario will it be?

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One Reply to “The Future of Medicine.”

  1. My thoughts – Scenario one: If this were going to be what happens, then it would have happened in most of Europe. Instead, though they have not progressed as far as I would like to see in terms of handicap access (physical access – older buildings simply don’t accomodate wheelchairs well), much of Europe offers a broad range of services for persons with overwhelming disabilities that we don’t even begin to touch. In this, the conservatives are wrong.

    Scenario two: We have something like this now. This is not a prediction of the future: it is our present, especially if you include the third world. Does the current proliferation of suicide bombers (and the relatively recent introduction of women into their ranks) qualify as social upheaval & disruption? I think we may be heading that way.

    Scenario three: To me the way you have presented this is shows development as being too even and the timetable (41 years)is too ambitious. There are definite leaps, for example, in some cancer treatments but we can’t make a simple, non-habitforming sleeping pill. We continue to focus the majority of testing on only one gender of our population (males) because they are more likely to give us consistently reportable results and then extrapolate those results to the second gender without regard to massive hormonal differences and the effect of that. If we are still making these kinds of elemental errors, we can not realistically expect to make the leap you postulate in the time frame mentioned. After all, it took from Leeuwenhoek in 1676 to Lister in 1867 to go from the knowledge that microorganisms existed to the concept that it was needed to elliminate them on surgical equipment. While a percentage of this time is due to differences in communication technology, there is still a paradigm shift that must occur in the human mind to make the connections needed for scenario three to be the future.

    I also wonder what kind of problems we may create along the way – though this is never an excuse not to proceed.

    I suspect there will be some blend of these plus a handful of unforeseen other things. (Not very specific. Sorry.)

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