Health plays an important, and perhaps most important, role in an individual’s longevity. As the health technology market matures, it becomes more and more necessary to explore the possibilities that innovation must respond to the major challenges in health, particularly with the emergence of acute, and in particular chronic, diseases associated with an aging population. Enjoying a longer life is good! Having a low quality in this “more life” is bad and we should not accept it! Our ambition should be to improve our quality of life in the last 15-20 years. That’s a lot of time wasted!
The fact is that Portugal, like other countries in Europe, has been experiencing, in recent decades, profound demographic changes marked by an aging population and the growth of chronic diseases. It is worth noting that, according to a study conducted by the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Institute of Health (INSA), more than half of the Portuguese suffer from at least one chronic disease. It should also be noted that the National Institute of Statistics (INE) states that in the next 50 years, Portugal will lose its population and the number of elderly people (over 65 years) will increase from 2.2 to 3 million, while the number of young people will decrease from 1.4 to About a million.
Looking at these numbers, the need for innovative solutions in the field of health becomes clear. And in a market where the role of technology is increasingly clear, we have found an opportunity to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into the healthcare sector. A real era of technological progress represents a revolution in this sector with “unlimited” possibilities. And while evidence-based medicine has been very effective in reducing mortality over the past half century, we have an opportunity to make data analysis and diagnostic capacity more efficient and to meet the economic burden, in some developed countries, associated with the growth of life expectancy.
Thus, we are talking about using AI to help manage chronic and acute diseases, genetic issues, lack of geographic access and aftercare. Although the pharmaceutical industry remains primarily focused on “traditional” evidence, we should view AI as a branch of precision medicine that focuses specifically on enhancing life expectancy and well-being, with many advantages from medical diagnosis to Improving the patient’s life. After all, AI allows experts to make a better decision in a shorter period of time.
With an explicit approach, this could allow us to find complex patterns in large volumes of data, which, through neural networks using high-performance computing, allows us to help in the health field. We’re talking about deep learning, which has been a scientific advance within artificial intelligence and should begin to be a part of doctors’ tools to improve patients’ quality of life. It should also be noted that AI-powered medicine facilitates drug identification for specific individuals. It also allows the identification of biomarkers of aging and longevity to improve the study of aging and disease pathways. It also helps identify interventions that can help slow or even reverse biological (physical or mental) aging.
We know that in the future, AI can help the National Health Service (SNS) manage financial and human resources. Add to that access, and tools related to longevity medicine — made possible by wearables and minimally invasive (relatively accessible and thus reducing financial challenges) technologies — help advance public health more broadly.
Artificial intelligence is an indispensable aid in responding to current needs, and is an extension of human capabilities, but without replacing them.
Antonio Liao, Managing Director of Lilly Portugal
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