When it comes to technological development, there is one particular law that is often quoted. Or rather, not a law, but a prediction. Moore's Law, developed by the eponymous Gordon E. Moore in the 1970s, to be exact. This concept in simple terms states that the overall processing power of a computer will double every two years.
And, so far, it appears to have been accurate. Every 18 months or so, computers become twice as powerful, pushing technological innovation along with it. Think about how advanced modern smartphones are compared to just a decade ago, or even last year.
It isn't just consumer electronics that is benefiting from this rapid development either. Medical technology has also come a long way over the last few years, with the arrival of 3D printing, robotic surgeons and even data management systems. These kinds of advancements are part of the reason why private health insurance premiums tend to increase every year, but considering the large improvement in life expectancy that Australia has seen, it is surely worth it.
The only question remains is what could be next for the medical industry? What could be the next big innovation?
Funding the next generation
"Australia has a proud history spanning decades of being at the forefront of medical innovation"
Capital funds innovation, so it's best to turn our attention to where the money is going. Westpac and BlueChilli, for example, fund one lucky entrepreneur every year, and this year the focus has been placed firmly on the bleeding edge of the medical industry.
"Australia has a proud history spanning decades of being at the forefront of medical innovation. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to pitch the next big idea in health that could deliver greater accessibility, improve the quality of care and reduce growing costs," explained Westpac's Head of Healthcare Leon Berkovich.
"We're calling on Australia's best and brightest to put their minds to developing the next big thing for this vital part of our economy."
And where do Westpac expect to see this kind of innovation in the medical industry? There are a wide range of applications for the $40,000 grant, it seems, including:
- Education and training,
- Greater accessibility to healthcare,
- Improving efficiency in existing systems,
- Brand new payment systems between providers, patients and governments,
- New tools to reduce administrative costs.
You will notice that new medical procedures or products are not listed here; rather, it is digital integration of already-existing systems that takes the limelight. Previous winners of the award used apps and programmes to provide accurate property prices for homebuyers (2014) and source casual labour for agribusiness (2013). This year's winner could well follow in this educational and facilitation-orientated slant, but with a medical twist.
Beyond the digital
Digital disruption affects everyone from insurance providers to retailers to farmers.
However, while digital disruption affects everyone from insurance providers to retailers to farmers, adapting to these new technologies are not the only direction for the medical industry to head in. With an ageing population, medical providers will have to adapt quickly to provide appropriate services and products to an older generation. Considering the Treasury estimates that people over 60 will make up 25 per cent of the population by 2040 (double the current demographic proportion), this is a significant hurdle that needs to be considered now.
Expect to see new options around accessibility and facilitating disability, as well as research into issues that predominantly affect older Australians: Alzheimer's, arthritis, heart disease, to name a few. Could the continued AI revolution birth a new set of robotic aged-care assistants? Will improved data management programmes make your insurance more personalised? Considering some of our most important medical discoveries were made by accident, could it be something entirely out of left field?
Whatever the future brings, there will always be one constant: the private medical industry will likely have new tech before the public system. Make sure you have access to all the latest innovations by ensuring your private medical insurance is up to date. Feel free to call HICA on 1300 44 22 01 for advice on your options.