As we ring in the new year, looking back, 2018 was a big year for healthcare and healthcare technology. Digital health companies secured over $7.5bn in investment in 2018. The healthcare industry, in particular, had been adopting trends at a slow and steady pace. Over the past few years, significant changes have been made where several companies are found redefining the term digital transformation. In the following post, I will shed some light on a few healthcare trends that I see coming in 2019.
Gone are the days when experts used to gaze into the crystal ball to identify which tech is going to make an impact in the future. In the present scenario, talking to industry insiders, tracking their trends are some of the most tried and tested ways to conduct predictions for multiple industries vertical and the healthcare sector is no exception!
Stay Ahead Of the Curve
With the dawn of 2019, the entire nation seems to be vying to improve the life expectancy rate. Some of us are already using personal health products like FitBit and Apple Watch to proactively monitor our physical activity. Is 2019 the year we shift our focus from physical activity to what’s going on inside the body. I personally see digital transformations as a stepping stone that might lead us to a bright future. Now many of you have this misconception that digitalization is all about buying new technologies and latest tools. No! It’s way beyond! It’s all about changing the operational process in the healthcare sector and making it more automatic and efficient.
Now, do you think an x-ray gives the exact picture? Of course not! There are certain areas which are distorted while certain areas are unnecessarily highlighted. And have you ever wondered why it happens? Simple professionals are looking more into 2D images, and we can definitely consider that almost all the surgeries that were conducted in the past were merely based on assumptions and guesswork. But not anymore! With technology advancement and innovations like 3D bioprinting, it becomes possible to understand the organs and their positioning in alarming clarity and in three-dimensional terms.
It may quite interest you to know that last year, successful separation of conjoined twins become possible. One of the twins relied on the other one’s heart to filter out impurities. They were attached from the lower part of their chest to their belly buttons. With the help of 3D bioprinting technology, they could operate virtually before doing it for real. They were successfully separated. The doctors wore Google like virtual reality glasses and explored a three-dimensional model of the twin’s hearts and explored the infants’ anatomy in minor detail. They blew up the 3D image of the infants’ anatomy before deciding on the right way to do the procedure.
Healthcare Technology Advancements
For healthcare professionals, quality always matters! And technology has proved its worth so, time and again. Today healthcare services has been elevated to such levels that were deemed impossible until some time ago. According to World Health Statistics 2015, a child born in 2013, has a life expectancy that’s seven years more than a child born 25 years earlier”. If I recall certain remarkable milestones, EMR- Electronic Medical Records used to make a huge impact a decade ago, and now it has become an ordinary element. Today, telemedicine, IoT, wearables, robots are setting up trends.
Enhancing user experience is the key. With the rising medical costs- patients are actively seeking alternatives for such costly treatments. Patients today are expecting to have a convenient and seamless experience that includes everything from accessing information to making informed decisions and having their questions answered through both online and over the phone.
I am sure you will agree with me on the fact that diseases affect the quality of life- and millions of people are getting affected because of these diseases at a global scale. Technology has improved the patients’ health and their quality of life; affecting the global economy.
- The electronic health record– After creating big strides in the centralization and efficiency of patient information, these EHRs can also be used as a data and population health tool for the future. Today data is what we’re making decisions off of, that’s going to change and improve outcomes of the consistency of medicine delivered.
- mHealth– As the name suggests, Mobile Health acts as a freeing healthcare device that enables physicians and patients alike to check on healthcare processes on-the-go. Slowly and steadily the trend became more prominent and prevalent due to which smartphones and tablets allowed healthcare providers to more freely access and sent information. At present, Physicians and service providers can use mHealth tools for orders, documentation and simply to reach more information when with patients.
- Portal technology– With the years passing by, patients have started becoming their own kind of players in the industry. With the help of portal tech, people (physicians and patients) can easily access medical records and interact online. Due to which patients become more closely involved and better educated about their care.
- Remote monitoring tools– In the year 2013, patients all across the globe started using home monitoring solutions. As a result, unnecessary costs and visits to a physician’s office got reduced. Patients were monitored at home. According to professionals, it’s basically allowing other people to monitor your health for you. It may sound invasive but is great for patients with severe and chronic illnesses.
What’s in the Future?
Digital transformation seems to have touched everything, including patient registration, smart diagnosis, self-care tools and a lot more. For many of us, the entire healthcare sector seems to be something which is magical; value-based care and filled with positive outcomes. Further below I would like to mention a few trends that will continue to have a significant impact on the healthcare industry: take a look!
- IoT & Clod computing
Image Source: Udemy
Gone are the days when professionals use to sit on a desk all day long and file papers regarding a patient’s health records, test results, etc. Even digital records are stored on the cloud instead of the offline storage- hard drives. Due to which medical professionals, as well as patients, can easily access health records. Good news is that “the agonizing wait time” of patients and their loved ones for test results has completely abolished. Besides, offer second opinions and better, advanced treatment options are other benefits offered by the tech.
Telemedicine or ‘telehealth are one of the terms which refer to video consultations between medical experts or interactions between doctors and their patients. As a result, professionals now can view scans, assess diagnostic reports, monitor symptoms and physical progression of a medical condition on a remote basis. Which also means a patient can easily consult professional without even meeting him or her in person. Development in telemedicine has resulted in saving the travelling time for the doctors and their patients, less crowded clinics and waiting rooms, also more streamlined medical front desk operations.
- Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) as tech has struggled to gain footholds in other niches and it seems like it is finding its place in the world of cloud computing the rosy future is about to hit! Healthcare industry is witnessing how this tech helps in speed up and improve diagnostic procedures, create innovative solutions which aids well in early treatment approaches. The AI-based diagnostic device has the capability to identify conditions such as diabetic retinopathy. This is done by scanning the retina which is already a reality and professionals requires to make sure that it has been found to be highly accurate. Several radiotherapists and oncologists are seen using Artificial Intelligence to speed up processes, increase accuracy and reduce costs.
Chabot featuring AI-based message and voice systems to deal with patient queries and save money. In addition to this, these bots can assist with several tedious tasks such as filling prescriptions, making appointments and billing processes. In pharmaceutical R&D, algorithms can test biological or chemical interactions safely and on an accurate basis. This definitely speeds up the process of drugs reaching the markets resulting in effectively saving lives. In the upcoming years, more and more specialists will be found applying AI to diagnostic and treatment procedures.
Complicated surgeries performed by a robot was next to impossible a decade ago. But see today’s sci-fi innovation in healthcare has given a ray of hope. Robotic equipment performing high precision, minimally invasive procedures is a reality today.
Additionally, robots are helping to deliver medical supplements, medications, and diets specifically tailored for individual patients. Human presence is no longer required as robots can monitor the vital signs of a patient, and call for human intervention when necessary. Right from assisting with surgeries to disinfecting patient rooms, reduce human exposure to possible contagion. It may quite interest you to know that you can even perform tedious tasks such as taking blood samples without having to prick the skin repeatedly to find a vein. The robot can accurately identify the blood vessel and make the extraction quickly, causing less pain. Experts predict that the use of robots in the medical field is set to shoot up in 2019.
- The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
Much applicable to healthcare, IoT (internet of Medical Things) brings healthcare tech, telemedicine, apps, and wearables. In the present scenario, experts are found tracking and helping prevent chronic illnesses with the use of wearable EKG/ ECG, blood pressure, temperature, and glucose level monitors. According to several reports, most of the healthcare operations have adopted IoMT and IoT devices.
- Blockchain and Data Science
I am sure you must have come across the term blockchain that uses secure shared digital data using a peer-to-peer system and can integrate easily and effectively into the healthcare sector. This absolutely means data and healthcare information becomes more portable accessible while remaining secure and appropriately complying with industry standards. In the present state, data science provides healthcare professionals with valuable information and analyses to help formulate treatments. Whether you wish to gather information about patient-drug interactions, patient-environment outcomes, and technology has proven its existence by assisting procedures in and delivering least expected times.
Professionals now can easily identify and address regional trends or epidemics ethnic predispositions and genetic vulnerabilities to predict and control the disease. One can definitely expect mainstreaming and standardization of these technologies in times to come.
A sudden increase has been observed in the use of wearable devices. Whether you wish to go through a local grocery store or dispensary, to measure blood pressure or weight, wearable apps provide significant assistance. It might even interest you to know your smart phone with mobile healthcare applications can perform DIY blood tests, ECGs, record temperatures and heartbeats.
The automation in this particular sector has made several impossible things possible such as sending automatic prompts to the patients about when is the correct time to check their weight, sugar, oxygen level or pulse. After the proper checkup is done, patients can enter the results in the portals especially designed for the patients. Even the real-time result transmission has become a reality. Now, with a little pro-activeness and no labor, patients can minimize the risk of bigger diseases like heart stroke, lungs failure, etc.
If you are in the healthcare industry, I am sure you must have started using digital technology to make the lives of your patients better. In addition to this, it can provide an experience that levels the playing field so that consumers feel more and more empowered and more connected to products and services you are offering.
Most of the technologies mentioned above are used across the globe. Their adoption and mainstreaming in this space, in particular, is supposed to increase. One can witnesses how more and more such applications are seamlessly integrating into preventive medicine to improve overall well-being in times to come. This might lead to new surgical and pharmaceutical treatments and genetic engineering to create solutions and cures for conditions which were thought to be untreatable in the past. Several experts predict that at least now, healthcare providers can feel the satisfaction of creating effective, lasting and customized solutions for the utmost care of their valuable patients. So that’s all for now! Keep watching the space to know more regarding the same.