As technology advances, its impact on other industries leads to changes in how things are done. The healthcare industry is no exception.
Digital transformation in healthcare has already begun to change how doctors and patients interact and how medical tests are performed. Other changes involve machine learning capabilities like artificial intelligence and automation and the use of Blockchain to secure patient records.
A report by the AMA found that 54 percent of physicians see digital tools as giving some advantage to their ability to care for patients. Just 13 percent felt that there was no advantage of such options. As well, the study found that most physicians look for digital options that help them to be more efficient, improve diagnosis and helps keep patients safer.
Moreover, it has been predicted that the digital health industry will reach $206 billion in the next year. The biggest leaders in this growth are expected to be mobile and wireless health options.
Tech trends in healthcare
There are a variety of ways that tech has been changing the healthcare system. Some of the most important ways include:
AI caregivers: Thanks to artificial intelligence, computers will be able to monitor patients. This will help to keep them safe in their homes and save on home care costs. For example, Addison Care, a 3D animated caregiver. Addison’s focus has been on monitoring aging patients to allow them to stay in their own home longer. The program is capable of having two-way conversations and can be customized for a patient’s needs. Some of the things that Addison can do is basic checkups, medication reminders, collecting vitals and recognize signs of decline in health.
Telehealth: Patients who live in remote areas have come to rely on telehealth professionals due to the reported doctor shortage. Thanks to this type of technology, people can access medical diagnosis and help without leaving their communities. According to Forbes, the number of people using telehealth services rose to seven million in just a couple of years. The benefits of this include the ability for patients with a serious illness to meet with top specialists from other regions. It can also save patients and doctors valuable time by allowing a diagnosis to be made over the phone and prescriptions issued quickly.
Machine learning: Thanks to artificial intelligence and deep learning, it is becoming easier to get the results of a medical test quickly. In fact, some research has shown that these technology advancements can analyze test results 150 times faster than human beings. The study was published in Nature Medicine and showed that acute neurologic events like strokes or hemorrhage could be detected quicker with AI. “With a total processing and interpretation time of 1.2 seconds, such a triage system can alert physicians to a critical finding that may otherwise remain in a queue for minutes to hours,” one publication quoted Eric Oermann, MD from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. This means patients can be diagnosed and treated much quicker than before.
Augmented Reality: AR has already been put into practice by helping doctors learn how to do their jobs better. For example, through AR they can practice performing difficult surgeries before they go and do the real thing on a patient. In addition, AR has been helping patients with cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Through technology, these patients are able to recall an important memory or event from their past. By doing this, these patients experience more joy despite their condition.
Blockchain: As more and more medical institutions collect and store personal data on patients it is crucial to ensure this information is safe. This is where Blockchain comes in. Deloitte stated that “blockchain systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate the friction and costs of current intermediaries.” Furthermore, an article in Forbes noted that Blockchain was a “tamperproof public ledger…Blockchain is highly resilient.” John Halamaka, the editor-and-chief of Blockchain in Healthcare Today told the publication that medical records secured with Blockchain cannot be altered and thus it preserves its integrity. It is touted for being one of the most advanced and secure networks. “a nationwide blockchain network for electronic medical records may improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients,” according to the Deloitte article.
Future predictions for digitization of healthcare
With advanced technology, there is a lot of ways that healthcare could change in the future. These are a few predictions that have been made.
Car care. One report has predicted that monitoring systems in our vehicles will increase by 67 percent by 2026. That means the industry would be worth $6.7 billion. Some of the car manufacturers that have been moving in this direction include Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Volvo. There are a variety of ways that our cars could help monitor our wellness including through the seat, steering wheel and seatbelt. These elements could be used as a biometric sensor that monitors vital signs. Some cars could even be equipped with cameras that can help ensure drivers stay awake while behind the wheel.
Wearable monitoring. Smartwatches are an ideal device that could be used to monitor an individual’s health. In fact, some wearables are already equipped with health monitoring features including the Apple Watch. The primary use of these medical options will be to measure ECG and blood pressure; blood sugar is likely next.
Globalization of healthcare. As technology continues to break down the walls between patients and physicians, it has also been predicted that it can create a more globalized healthcare industry. For example, patients in one country could start to request diagnosis or specialist treatment in another country.
3D bioprinting. In the United States, the FDA has been supporting efforts to use 3D printing technology to create implants or medical devices. It is now also considering issues connected to bioprinting tissue-based products. This means we could see the day when synthetic tissue is printed with a 3D printer. Some trial data has shown that this type of product has been successfully used on lab mice.
Advanced technology has already transformed industries like retail and banking and it seems inevitable that the healthcare industry will need to adapt tech tools to stay relevant.
Yet, it is more than that. Physicians have indicated they believe that digital tools have the ability to improve their patient’s lives and make the industry more efficient. From AI caregivers to Blockchain security for patient records, there are a variety of ways that tech will benefit patients and doctors alike.
Article written by Mark Edgington