Tuesday, August 18, 2009

AMEDD Futures 2039 Project

The Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF) reported in their August newsletter that their Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Futures 2039 Project has been completed. The Futures 2039 Project was designed to help young leaders within AMEDD explore the major trends that will impact AMEDD over the next 30 years. More than 40 military and civilian AMEDD personnel in the U.S. and Europe participated in the project

The 2039 project report forecasts how advanced technologies will provide care in the year 2039. The futurists envision that researchers and doctors will have a comprehensive understanding of health and disease at the genetic and cellular levels which will lead to advanced prevention and therapeutics.

According to the forecasts, by 2039, a plethora of biomonitoring devices are going to be available to use for early detection, diagnosis, therapeutic decisions, follow-up prognosis, home self-management, and environmental monitoring. Imaging technologies will be able to investigate inside individual cells and simple handheld devices will be used to make rapid diagnoses at the point-of-care anywhere. Nanomolecules for imaging the location of cancer will be able to deliver powerful therapies directly into cancer cells and then confirm that the tumor is destroyed.

Powerful knowledge tools such as grid computing, comprehensive databases will convert huge amounts of data into knowledge and disseminate it to researchers, clinicians, patients, policy makers, and consumers. Biomonitoring when combined with personal health records will provide vast amounts of privacy-protected data for real-time research on the health status and effects of medical interventions.

By the year 2039, the “Health Advocate Avata” will exist to mediate interactions between individuals and the vast store of medical knowledge in a personalized and ethical way through voice recognition, haptic devices, and high resolution displays. The Avatar will act as a coach educator, navigator, and health manager to tailor interventions to the needs and preferences of the individual health consumer.

Advanced materials and nanotechnology will be used in drugs, durable artificial organs and for medical nanodevices. For example, implants and sensors, adaptive intelligence and a therapy delivery system will be able to automatically and continuously manage a diabetic patient.

The futurists see neurotechnology, which is the convergence of nano-info-bio-cogno technologies, restore and enhance normal brain function. This will be accomplished through enhanced memory, concentration, and emotional intelligence.

Biosensors will be worn on the body or embedded in the environment to continuously track physiological and psychological health status and behaviors. The data will provide a comprehensive ongoing picture of all aspects of health and allow detection of minute changes in disease.

Smart agents and robotic assistive devices will support care providers, allowing patients to self-manage health at home. The center of home healthcare in the home will use in-home diagnostic tests, virtual visits, and virtual reality. For example, an elderly person might work with a collaborative team in person or in virtual space to include physical and occupational therapists. Device manufacturers will also play a role and produce custom assistive appliances to support living independently at home.

A network of public health leaders will serve a similar role for the entire populations and each day they will conduct ongoing privacy-protected monitoring of the massive data available from all digital health activities. The solutions will involve education, policy changes, new therapies, and then efforts can be made to change behavior for individuals, families, communities, and society.

To read all of the 14 forecasts in the 2039 project, go to www.altfutures.com/AMEDD2039.