If you have a virtual patient you can select the treatment with the highest cure rate (Image: Tommy Parker)
A medically accurate digital double will allow doctors to diagnose complex conditions, test treatments before cutting you open – and show you your future self
WHEN June slipped on an icy pavement and fractured her wrist, the doctors treating her thought little of it. She was a fit and healthy 65-year-old. Her wrist was set in a cast and she was sent home. But two years later, June tripped in the garden and couldn’t get up. She was still there the following morning, when her son found her and took her to hospital.
June had osteoporosis. She had fractured a bone in her hip and needed major surgery to put in an artificial replacement. She later suffered two fractures to her vertebrae, deforming her spine and restricting her breathing. Confined to bed for six weeks, she developed a chest infection and died.
Her case is not unusual. Osteoporosis, where bones become weak and fragile, is often missed first time round. But just four years from now, such an experience could be entirely different. After that initial fracture, June’s bone density would be measured and she’d be sent home wearing sensors that continuously recorded her activity levels, gait and posture. She’d be offered a CT scan to capture the exact structure of her bones and reveal areas of wear, tear or weakness. All of this data would then be plugged into a computer simulation that would create a virtual June, fast-forward her through the years, and …