A quantum leap for healthcare

Posted on: July 12, 2019 by Frederik Kerling

With recent advances in data and analytics, automation and artificial intelligence, the capacity even of today’s most advanced supercomputers will start to reach its limits. The good news is that a new computing power is emerging that will bring remarkable changes to many sectors, including healthcare. Quantum computing is opening up possibilities that will transform the way in which human beings process information by offering vast improvements over traditional computing in computation time, quality, cost and energy usage.

What is quantum computing?

Based on quantum physics, quantum computing – unlike traditional computing – is non-binary. This means it doesn’t provide a definite answer; instead, it averages the right answer over multiple identical iterations and works with multiple states at the same time.

Even now, there are some processes and tasks that have been difficult, if not impossible, to achieve using traditional computing because of their size and complexity. Quantum computing changes this, altering the way we can approach major scientific and technological hurdles and making research and industrial processes faster, better and cheaper.

Applications of quantum in healthcare

In healthcare, quantum computing will help to meet the opportunities and challenges arising from the explosion of data. The power of quantum computing will enable researchers and healthcare professionals to discover, pioneer and deliver more precise and more personalized diagnoses, treatments and medications. Here are just three examples.

  • Electronic health records. The ability of quantum computing to process very large amounts of complex, variable data from many different sources will transform what is possible using patients’ electronic health records, with data from connected objects and third parties. What’s more, quantum computing offers new and different levels of encryption (called quantum cryptography) to safeguard electronic patients record from cyberattack, even as cyberthreats evolve.
  • Genomic research and personalized medicine. One of the most significant ways in which quantum computing transforms the ability to process and use big data is genomics. Using the power of quantum computing, it will be possible to massively speed up genomic sequencing, at a volume and cost that is not possible with existing supercomputing. As a result, clinicians will be able to deliver more personalized medicine, based on an individual’s unique genetic makeup, which currently maybe too costly or time-consuming to justify investment at an individual level.
  • New ways to develop drug and new drugs. Again, using the power of this new kind of computing, researchers and scientists will be able to harness big data to analyze disease patterns to discover and develop new drugs, to treat both disease and individuals. High performance computing processes to advance research will be much simpler, faster and accurate. Perhaps one of the largest, eventual, impacts on healthcare will be the ability to carry out iterative drug design by, for example, analyzing the structure of a virus and, using quantum computing capabilities to simulate different biological reactions in order to formulate effective medications.

Making quantum a reality for healthcare

In healthcare, we’re likely to see applications of quantum computing entering the mainstream in the next 10-15 years. To make this realizable, research and development into quantum computing today is critical. That’s why Atos has already embraced quantum computing as one of the game-changing innovations of our time. The Atos Quantum program is our response and is the first quantum computing industry program in Europe. As part of this, we are developing a quantum simulation platform to enable researchers to test, algorithms and software for future quantum computers – together with a portfolio of quantum applications, including quantum cryptography. While there is much to be done, these are very exciting times as quantum technologists all over the world prepare for this truly revolutionary and awe-inspiring technology to enter the mainstream.

Read Health experts' insights in Atos Digital Vision Paper on Health to learn more from on the real revolution in Healthcare.

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About Frederik Kerling
Senior Quantum Expert, and member of the Scientific Community and member of the Scientific Community
Frederik Kerling is a Senior Quantum Expert heading the quantum consulting team based in the Netherlands. He is also a member and an editorial board member of the Atos Scientific Community. As a theoretical physicist specializing in Quantum engineering he made the transition to consulting after his time in Copenhagen. He is internationally active within the quantum community, and collaborates in several consortia and initiatives to promote quantum technology. In addition he develops patents in quantum technology, and is always open for a good discussion about quantum fundamentals. Frederik is often employed in innovation tracks in the role of innovation manager or even determining innovation strategies on a corporate level. And in his spare time can be found exercising, gaming, teaching and doing improv.

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