Added value for society

The proper study of mankind is man

(Alexander Pope, An essay on man, 1733)

In silico technology is set to produce a quantum leap in our understanding of the nature of man, for it is only through the identification of useful information in the vast amount of data on 'man' that we will arrive at a genuine comprehension of our biological nature.

Analytical bio-modelling is also set to make major practical contributions and to transform the way society handles health-related matters. The 'added benefit' of in silico technologies for health care includes the following:

• New, interactive in silico teaching and educational tools will be available for doctors and the greater public. This will help to improve professional skills and general health awareness. Future health-related implications of an individual's behavioural patterns or of various treatment strategies can be assessed and compared on the basis of long-term case predictions.

• In silico technologies will help health care policy development and acute decision making. The latter will be based on improved access to expert information, statistics, case reports, etc. Medium-term decisions will benefit from the early recognition of epidemiological patterns, etc. Long-term policies can be based on detailed investigations into the cost-benefit-relation of restorative versus preventative strategies which, undoubtedly, will consolidate the case of preventative medicine.

• In silico models will aid both the standardisation and individualisation of medical care. Standardisation of diagnoses, drug and device descriptions, procedures, etc. will make relevant information more readily and more widely available. On the other hand, advanced models will allow development of patient-specific procedures for diagnosis and treatment. This will move the focus from the treatment of diseases to the curing of patients.

• All the above effects will ultimately lead to reduction in morbidity and mortality and an improvement in the quality of life.

On this optimistic note we shall finish.

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