BUPA-Sanitas Hospitals’ Jorge Velázquez believes we’re at the beginning of an exciting new era for healthcare – we just need to get creative
“As a society we are now experiencing a tsunami of new technologies,” says Jorge Velázquez, Director of Business Transformation at Spain’s BUPA-Sanitas Hospitals. From stem cell therapies to the bio printing of human tissues, exoskeletons to bionic implants, ‘Big Data’ to AI, a dizzying range of new technologies is coming to the healthcare sector. All these new technologies could help doctors and patients treat illnesses better.
While he acknowledges the sheer scale of innovation can feel overwhelming, Velázquez is confident we will be able to make the most of it: “humankind has been adopting technologies for millions of years”. What’s more, he reckons “those organizations that are able to understand changes in societies and create value with technologies will be those organizations in whom we will trust for our health care”.
Velázquez, who will be speaking at Smart IoT London about the intersection of AI and IoT with healthcare this March, discusses some of the key issues raised by this new “tsunami” of healthcare tech.
“It is already the present”
We’ve long been accustomed to talking about digitally enabled healthcare technology as if it will arrive at some point in the future. But, according to Velázquez, that’s no longer accurate: “this technology is not something to wait for, it is already in the present”.
When talking about ‘health’ technology, there’s a wide range of IoT devices which are already used near-continuously by large numbers of people. “People already use IoT devices for playing sports, going for a walk, feeding, mental health, etc.” He points to tech like “chest or wrist bands or mobile apps, all of them connected in real time with cloud algorithms”. And he reckons this kind of tech will only become more ubiquitous: “smart insoles, electrocardiogram bands, stickers that measure temperature, oxygen or sugar levels in blood and so on will be as normal as our mobile phones are today”.
That said, when it comes to medicine and medical treatments, the introduction of already-available tech will be slower. “Medical science needs scientific evidence, and this takes time” – medical trials need to be conducted and new medical treatments must be approved by regulatory boards. Velázquez adds that doctors “are still very cautious and in most cases are not natural believers in those technologies”.