When it comes to adopting technology, healthcare is a bit behind other industries. Nevertheless, it stands a good chance to witness significant changes over the next few years, as many companies are becoming more digitally mature, applying technology to their functional aspects.
We believe that being familiar with emerging healthcare technologies puts tech leaders in a winning position when they are strategizing the future.
New healthcare technology: The state of industry today
The healthcare industry is looking for ways to treat patients virtually, predict and prevent diseases, increase hospitals' efficiency, as well as to overcome security and tech talent shortage issues.
Essentially, the field is moving towards reducing the cost of services. This can be achieved by putting personalized medicine into action, which improves patient care.
Technologies bring a lot of value into customer-based care, enabling the following functions:
- remote patient monitoring, including those with chronic diseases
- virtual screening using devices that transmit a patient’s health information
- individual treatment plans
- early detection of disease
In this article, we have pulled together technology trends in Healthcare that will shape the industry in 2020 and beyond.
Trend 1. Telemedicine
In 2020, more insurers will be covering telemedicine as it becomes widely adopted. At the same time, more doctors are going to embrace this trend.
Telemedicine epitomizes technology-driven healthcare. It has been the driving force in transforming the US healthcare system. It had the transformative power that enabled thousands of people in remote areas to get medical aid they couldn't otherwise access. Telemedicine also freed urban citizens from hours in waiting rooms caused by the unavailability of medical professionals.
Current healthcare technology trends in telemedicine
- Improved healthcare apps
Remote communication is prevalent, and so telemedicine strives to improve the quality of interactions between patients and healthcare providers. Therefore, we can surely expect that the apps will become more intuitive and easy-to-use.
- Healthcare will become less centralized
More and more professionals are forfeiting large hospitals in favor of smaller practices in decentralized communities. It’s predicted that the younger generation will keep the ball of decentralization rolling.
- Solidifying cybersecurity
Technology and cybersecurity go hand in hand. Healthcare operations are prone to cybercrime, so healthcare data protection is naturally the number one priority.
Trend 2. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
According to a recent report, the wearable medical device market is expected to reach more than $27 million by 2023. In 2020, there will be around 20-30 IoMT devices.
The convergence of IoT and telemedicine brought about a variety of wearable devices and mobile apps used to track and prevent disease. IoMT spans a variety of smart devices: ECG, EKG monitors, smart beds, connected inhaler and many more.
Above all, IoMT lets doctors focus on prevention. Instead of doing a check-up once a year, patients can get health updates more frequently. As a result, healthcare providers rely on wearable tech to have access to real-time health monitoring of high-risk patients.
Providing consistent communication within the ecosystem of IoT devices is the biggest challenge of the industry nowadays. The devices generate massive amounts of data, and its handling creates a problem for manufacturers that are reliant on proprietary protocols. Plus, the slow and failed connections are yet to be addressed by the industry.
Trend 3. The Cloud
Cloud platforms boost collaboration between doctors and patients. With the records stored in the cloud, there’s no need to build out infrastructures and hire maintenance teams.
Digital medical records are easy to access, making the consultation process super convenient. Because virtual consultations rely on text-based and video-based communication, there’s a need to deploy fast, secure and stable WAN connections. But that’s one side of the problem.
The other is that data protection within cloud ecosystems require stringent standards. Unfortunately, HIPAA Privacy and Security compliance is often a stumbling stone that makes healthcare organizations refrain from adopting the Cloud. For many it’s not simple to secure the information within the formats required by the regulations.
To remedy the situation, some cloud providers began to cater specifically to the requirements of HIPAA. There are also alternatives like private cloud systems and on-premises solutions, which allow high-level control over data.
Trend 4. Big Data is among healthcare trends
Data-driven medicine is one of the key emerging trends. According to a study by Datavant, more than 4 trillion gigabytes of medical data is generated annually. The forecasts say this number will double every two years.
Tons of information come from a variety of medical sources. This data can be crunched and turned into actionable insights by predictive analysis. Weaving big data into healthcare is rather promising:
- lowering the rate of medication errors
- creating illness preventive plans
- reducing wait time due to understaffing
- preventing patients from readmission and improving long-term care
Most importantly, due to deep insights pulled from Big Data patients can react to health problems faster.
Through predictive analytics, doctors can get a feasible analysis of a patient's expected health situation based on the information gleaned from the family record.
Trend 5. Mixed reality and its future trends
Digital health trends such as AR and VR are the key enablers of technology advances in healthcare. The global virtual and augmented reality in the healthcare market is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2025.
Simulated environments are proven to be helpful in relieving pains, coping with stress and post-traumatic effects, and even overcoming motor deficiencies. VR gives access to activities and visual experiences that are otherwise unavailable or impossible during therapy.
Other uses of virtual reality include planning complicated surgeries, doctors’ training and skills improvement, motivating users to exercise, and treating emotional health.
Here's an example of new trends in technology: Neuroscientist Nanthia Suthana is using virtual reality to help her patients fight memory loss. She uses the VR headset to test the memory of a patient. The patients with brain implants can participate in virtual reality task in VR that simulates the real-world environment. The scientists can record brain signals and try to understand what’s happening in the brain.
Augmented reality is a key influencer in healthcare. By imposing an additional layer of information on real-world scenes, AR screens allow surgeons to have access to life-saving information during emergency procedures. Students can use 3D models when they need to explore a subject quickly. AR also makes it possible for doctors to accurately diagnose the symptoms. When patients struggle to precisely describe their symptoms, AR may come in handy to better describe those symptoms.
Trend 6. Artificial Intelligence as a current trend in healthcare
Artificial intelligence along with machine learning promise to bring a lot of value to the sector. They provide innovative ways to diagnose diseases, create treatment plans, do medical research, drug discovery and clinical trials, monitor and predict epidemic outbreaks, increase operational efficiency during peak loads in hospitals.
By 2030, AI-powered systems will be widely used in personalized medicine, and 5 years later, autonomous AI will begin replacing human doctors. Here are some applications of AI in healthcare.
As part of assisted AI, image classification systems help the doctor conduct high-quality diagnostics over a short period of time. Today the efforts of radiologists, ultrasound specialists go into image classification and their description. In the future, this can be automated by means of AI.
With risk groups, early treatment saves lives. Using Artificial Intelligence, risk patients can be identified and treated sooner.
Humanity often faces epidemic outbreaks and emerging technologies in healthcare help in preventing them. The artificial intelligence system that allows controlling and predicting epidemics has already been used in Africa. Drones collect information about a region. Doctors can analyze DNA of mosquitos and provide a forecast as to where and when will the next epidemic is likely to occur.
Further advancements in Artificial Intelligence will lead to the wide use of augmented artificial intelligence systems, which opens up new possibilities. For example, classifying MRI images at high speed without human intervention. AI also allows creating personalized medication and effective treatment based on the patient’s individual data, such as tests and reactions to chemicals. According to forecasts, personalized treatment powered by AI will be available for mass use by 2030.
Trend 7. Blockchain, future healthcare technology
Blockchain solves the problem of accessibility, portability, and integrity of information in a complex environment. There’s always a risk to lose or compromise medical records stored in clinics' databases. Blockchain has the potential to challenge the status quo. Using a public-private key, a patient can decide who is going to have access to their record. If a specialist is needed for a consultation, a patient can grant access via a system that all parties are using. It will be completely transparent as to who has access to the records and in what way they are used.
Blockchain systems in healthcare prove efficient when a patient is traveling to another country. When health intervention is needed urgently, doctors can access medical records fast, without having the patient to provide the information orally.
As an example of new technology in healthcare, the American SimplyVitalHealth developed a system that allows the exchange of patient data between several clinics. The company has already announced the development of a new, larger-scale infrastructure system.
At the same time, behemoths like IBM take it slow to adopt this technology. With the common tech standards yet to be reached, the challenge of industry-wide adoption of Blockchain still remains.
Newest health technologies will remain the basis for digital transformation in the medical field. Our team at NCube stays on top of the trends and is ready to consult you regarding technology choice for your company.