Technological advances in medicine can be a game changer for employment

Kehlan Kirwan looks at technological advances taking place in medicine and sees fundamental changes to society as well as a host of job opportunities being created.... jobs we currently cannot even envisage.

Think for a moment about the complexity of the human body. All the things that need to work in order for us to stay alive.

Bacterial and chemical reactions inside a shell of bone, muscle and skin.

Now look at one of the many organs within our bodies. How they function and work in tandem with the others to produce a balance, a formula for staying alive.

Now, what if I tell you that within the architecture of those organs could be put a ‘chip’ for observation? What if we could observe the reaction of lungs or the heart, to medicines to see how they can influence recovery or prevent further damage?

Well, those ‘organs-on-chips’ already exist. They are a new standard in developing medicines which can help patients and sufferers of numerous diseases and health problems. 

They are just a hint of what is to come in the years ahead.

As patients, doctors and insurance companies push for drugs which work more efficiently the industry is reacting by producing new ways to solve health problems.

Stem-cell research has become an incredibly important part of medical development.

Stem cells can now be found beyond the controversial embryonic phase and now non- embryonic stem-cell research has led to huge breakthroughs in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease, auto-immune diseases, strokes and heart disease, to name but a few.

Just last week, scientists had a breakthrough in the ability to create retinal cells from mouse or human stem-cells. The target being to help those with age-related blindness. 

In the same week, Japanese researchers announced that they had made complex skin tissue which included hair and glands.

Essential for those with skin diseases or burn victims. The jobs that these new treatments produce are just isolated to the science industry.

A PwC trends’ report noted that people wanted to see more companies help them save for medical expenses. 

In a similar way to putting together a retirement plan, young people now are looking at how they can protect themselves and their families against large pay-outs for treatments or preventative measures.

That means we’re going to see more financial planning targeted at the general market. In the same survey we also get an insight into why this has happened as 60% of people have never had a conversation with their doctor about the cost of a visit, prescription or treatment.

Technology will also play a part in developing applications which take the patient away from the waiting rooms.

High-end apps are already beginning to change the point in which people enter waiting rooms, be it the local GP or A&E. The removal of parts of the body in order to treat tumors or cancer is becoming less invasive. 

Advances in laser technology, sound waves and microengineering are slowly taking surgery out of human hands.

In our race to fight the ailments that the human body goes through we are also creating the jobs of the future.

My son is five years old. By the time he reaches 25 there will be jobs available that don’t even exist now.

Bioengineering and biomedical research are constantly changing what we know about the world around us and how we improve the lives of people.

Like food, the jobs will be driven by the need to live longer and the chances are that the first person to live to 150 years old is already among us. 

That brings with it more medical, financial and social implications for the jobs of the future.


Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s growing resentful of her widowed mum’s needy behaviour.Ask a counsellor: My mother is so clingy since losing my dad – what can I do?

More From The Irish Examiner