The world of quantum computing has certainly ramped up technologically in recent years. With the ability to boost disease tracking, assist with drug discovery, and formulate functional supply chains, the healthcare industry greatly benefits from the growing impact of quantum computing technologies and, though it is not a cure-all for all modern healthcare problems, it is a likely frontrunner for the continued advancement of healthcare technologies.
Quantum computing works by solving problems on an atomic or subatomic level. Quantum computers, unlike standard supercomputers, operate by performing all calculations at once using the qubits of information that they are programmed to hold. These computers are suited for processes like optimization, molecular simulation, and machine learning.
Seeing as quantum computers are a relatively new technology as compared to standardized computers, they are still limited in functional applications, though the qubit reservoir that the computers use for data processing is steadily increasing, approximately doubling capacity every year.
"Because quantum computers can simulate atoms and other molecules much better than classical computers, researchers are investigating the future feasibility of doing drug discovery, target protein matching, calculating protein folding and more," said Scott Buchholz, Deloitte Consulting’s Technology Research Director and Government and Public Services Chief Technology Officer.
"That is, during the drug discovery process, they could be useful to dramatically reduce the time required to sort through existing databases of molecules to look for targets, identify potential new drugs with novel properties, identify potential new targets and more."
Because of how quickly quantum computers process information, it is also likely that they will be prime disease diagnostic tools in the future. This is, according to Buchholz, because these computers are likely to require smaller, lower-power, and more sensitive sensors, which will be key in the identification and diagnosis of diseases.
Because these computers can simulate molecular interactions at high efficiency, it is also likely that they will optimize manufacturing processes with time, encouraging less wasted energy and resources and increasing the timeliness of manufacturing processes.
"While the technology to solve the 'at scale' problems is still several years in the future, researchers currently are working hard today to put the foundations in place to tackle these problems as the hardware capacity of quantum computers advances,” said Buchholz.