Many organisations embarking on the journey of transformation in healthcare do so from the perspective of the technology and all too often focus on transferring current ways of working says Sam Shah, director of digital development at NHS England.
While healthcare has historically been slow to adopt technology, the industry is about to witness significant changes over the next several years. The digital health market is expected to reach $206 billion by 2020. Leading companies are already redefining themselves with digital transformation, applied to their main functional areas with customer-centric approach.
For us, keeping an eye on the latest industry-specific tech trends is essential. These trends are typically best showcased at the world’s leading events—in our case, healthcare conferences. Today we’re going to share our insights gained at Med-Tech Innovation Expo, spotlighting 8 major technology trends in healthcare to watch over the next few years.
Evolution in telemedicine is one the biggest sources of rapid change in the US healthcare system. In a large country where access to providers is limited, telemedicine is increasingly proving to be transformative. In urban areas, underserved communities also face problems arising from wait times which have increased from 18.5 to 24 days from 2014, according to the 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates.
Telemedicine is improving diagnosing and treatment by making it easier for patients to get access to specialists, too. The availability of electronic records has also made it simpler to forward documents to specialists. In rural areas, this can mean the difference between having or not having expert input into a case.
2. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
Various devices and mobile apps have come to play a critical role in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses for many patients and their doctors. By combining IoT development with telemedicine and telehealth technologies, a new Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has emerged. This approach includes the use of a number of wearables, including ECG and EKG monitors. Many other common medical measurements can also be taken, such as skin temperature, glucose level, and blood pressure readings.
By 2017, nearly 60% of operations in the healthcare field had adopted IoT or IoMT systems, according to Frost & Sullivan. This trend has given rise to improvements in everything from patient experience to profitability. Between 20 and 30 billion IoMT devices are expected to be deployed by 2020. By 2021, the market for IoT devices in healthcare is anticipated to reach $136 billion, Allied Market Research reported. With the arrival of new delivery methods, such as the first smart pill approved in 2017 by the FDA, practitioners will have many interesting options for providing care in a more effective manner.
3. AR/VR/MR in healthcare
The arrival of virtual and augmented reality solutions has led to significant advances in healthcare technologies. Advances that could only be imagined a decade ago are now being implemented. From educating new students to planning procedures, the field of AR and VR in healthcare offers serious promise.
One of the biggest problems in overcoming motor deficiencies following a stroke is putting patients in robust enough environments to foster improvement. Enhanced and simulated environments enable more diverse interactions that might otherwise be possible during physical therapy. Data can be gathered using monitoring to assist therapists in devising customizes care plans.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Have you ever gone in for a test, but had to wait for a week for the results? This is where technology is enabling a better customer experience. With AI, body scans and other services are being dramatically improved. Using AI and deep learning, body scans have been shown to analyze CAT scans up to 150 times faster than human radiologists, detecting acute neurological events in just 1.2 seconds. Talk about an improved customer experience! No more stressed out waiting—just accurate, on-the-spot answers. AI can also help with things like determining the most effective pharmaceutical compositions—allowing for faster trials and better meds than ever before. Oh, and on the backside, AI can do all the things it does in other industries—reduce costs, prevent identity theft, improve processes, etc.
5. Chatbots serving as digital assistants to physicians
Just like any other industry, saving costs is a major concern for the healthcare industry as well. Chatbot technology is helping deal with routine medical queries using AI-backed messaging and voice systems in an affordable manner.
The chatbots of today are designed to learn from patient interactions and assume the role of a general practitioner. In fact, some chatbots like Woebot have now also acquired the capabilities of serving as digital therapists. Smart bots serve as digital assistants to physicians in keeping track of contacts and managing appointments with patients. On the other hand, chatbots also make life easier for patients by providing timely prescriptions, conducting lab tests and making the billing procedure uncomplicated.
Although the chatbot technology is still in its early phase of development, market research firm Grand View Research has estimated that the global chatbot market will touch $1.23 billion by 2025, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3 per cent. In the current digital healthcare industry landscape, healthcare chatbots can be broadly bifurcated into two categories, the first, patient-only apps that help patients track health data; and second, patient-clinician applications which act as a bridge between the two groups to serve the purpose of diagnosis and treatment.
6. Focus oriented towards content marketing for consumer engagement
Adopting digital marketing strategies at voluminous scale is another noticeable trend to have made its presence felt in 2018 in the digital healthcare industry. But what forms the crux of any digital marketing strategy is the content. Without engaging content which is tailored to disseminate vital and relevant information to the consumer, it’s almost impossible for any healthcare provider to sustain in a highly competitive market. Content which provides answers rather than raising fresh questions increases engagement and helps convert visitors into existing patients.
7. Cloud computing in healthcare
Paper filing of a patient’s health records, test results etc. are almost a thing of the past in some advanced countries. Even digital records are now stored on the cloud rather than offline storage such as the hard drive of a medical facility. This gives easy access to health records to medical professionals as well as patients.
The agonizing wait time of patients and their loved ones for test results or definitive diagnoses reduces significantly. The other benefit is that medical professionals on the other side of the world from a patient can quickly assess a situation to offer second opinions and better, advanced treatment options.