Bertalan Mesko - Is 3D Printing the Most Disruptive Trend for the Future of Medicine?

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Mar 24, 2015
by Stuart Milne and Louise Hallman
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Bertalan Mesko - Is 3D Printing the Most Disruptive Trend for the Future of Medicine?

Doctor, researcher, medical futurist and self-described geek explains what the future holds for medicine Bertalan Mesko models one of the many devices he uses to track his wellbeing

Bertalan Mesko started tracking his wellbeing as a teenager, and more than 6000 days later, the self-described geek is still doing it, and he believes more of us will be following his example.

As a doctor, researcher, geek and medical futurist, Mesko collects data on his mobility, sleep patterns, heart rate, brain activity, and even the speed of his eating through a number of a number of gadgets, including “wearable” tech and even a “smart fork”, enabling him to monitor and more importantly modify and optimize his behavior.

Wearable tech is a growing market with an estimated one in four Americans currently monitoring their health and general wellbeing either through dedicated devices or their mobile phones. 

Such apps and devices enable not only the wearer to track their vitals on a daily and ongoing basis, but also share this data with their physician. 

As this technology becomes more affordable and widespread, remote data transfers could enable patients to spend more time talking to their doctor about their condition during time-limited appointments, and for those living in remote areas, remove the need for them to travel large distances for simple procedures such as having their blood pressure measured. Biosensors such as tattoos and digital stethoscopes could further ease this collection of data, which would not only enable to the doctor and patient to be better informed of the individual’s condition, but also help enhance large scale data sets.

In addition to the expansion of self-tracking and remote data collection other innovations that Mesko believes will have huge impacts on the future of health include 3D printing – enabling the speedier and more cost effective production of prosthetic limbs, bio-materials such as organs, and even  drugs, creating the possibility for customized and immediate drug access; augmentation – enhancing prosthetic and natural limbs through the use of computerized exoskeletons; and nano-technology and nano-robotics – tiny programable devices that could exist inside the body to collect data.

These huge technological advances raise a multitude of concerns, not least of which is bio-terrorism. Mesko’s advice to Fellows? Read more sci-fi; not for tech ideas, but to start considering now what might be the ethical challenges of the (possibly very near) future.

To listen to a full interview with Bertalan Mesko on the role social media can play in medicine, where the greatest innovations are coming from and the revolutionary potential of 3D printing, visit: www.soundcloud.com/SalzburgGlobal or listen below:


Bertalan Mesko is a medical futurist, and was a speaker at the session The Promise of Data: Will This Bring a Revolution in Health Care? The session is part of the Salzburg Global series “Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century” and was held in collaboration with the Mayo ClinicArizona State UniversityThe Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, and in association with the Karolinska Insititutet.

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