September 27, 2018
Change is the only constant and this fits so well in the context of technology – changing and evolving with each day, making more inroads into our lives. It doesn’t gather much of an argument that technology and digital touch have been a deciding factor in how we function and behave.
One of the most significant contributions of technology has been towards healthcare. This sector has witnessed numerous technological innovations in the last few years which have totally redefined how healthcare is provided. Emerging technologies including mobility have been responsible for a revolutionary paradigm shift in the treatment cycle, care delivery and patient experience. Medical research, diagnostics, treatment, and communication are more equipped and refined today than ever before. Clearly, they have made health care services simpler, cheaper and more accessible across all socioeconomic layers.
Let’s take a look at the top technologies that are disrupting and revolutionizing the healthcare system.
AI is empowering the providers by helping them quickly deliver more organized and personalized patient care. It’s bringing precision in diagnosis which enables the providers to deliver better care and reduce the number of fatalities. Clinical data analysis and machine learning applications result in more efficient medical research, drug development, and predictive healthcare model, thereby improving public health.
Mental healthcare has benefited considerably from AI. Using machine learning, it’s now possible to detect concerning symptoms at an early stage and plan an appropriate course of care. In particular, this is even more helpful for the patients who have difficulty in opening up.
AI has also been able to increase health awareness among people. With many easy-to-use apps and devices, more people are now monitoring their self-health.
AI is assuming bigger responsibilities in healthcare by the day. Accenture’s estimate comes as no surprise which states that healthcare’s AI market is going to reach $6.6 billion by 2021.
Virtual and augmented realities will soon be picking the pace and expanding their areas of application in healthcare.
It’s obvious that human anatomy is complex and medical trainees often find it challenging to view and access certain parts of the internal body which makes the treatment difficult. Virtual reality makes it possible for them to get a complete view of anatomy in high-quality video and get trained more effectively.
It also helps the surgeons perform a complex surgery using a robotic process where the robots are controlled by them. Psychologists can use it to give their patients various simulations of real-life scenarios and understand their reactions and behavior. This can help them choose the course of treatment accordingly.
This is a creative technological offering which not only enables the caregivers but also helps the patients to understand their problems more precisely and ascertain how the treatments are helping them.
The possibilities of IoT application in patient care are immense. IoT has certainly brought in the means to deliver better care with improved machine-to-machine conversations. Use of connected devices and RFIDs has not only given rise to recording and efficiently maintaining patient profiles, monitoring health in real-time and offering remote care, and has paved the way to offering timely, cost-effective and quality care to the patients. No wonder the connected health and wellness devices market looks to touch $612 billion globally by 2024, says a new report by Grand View Research.
Wearables, a useful introduction of IoT, has seen an increased adoption in recent years. It’s helping people track and manage their health in a more effective manner with real-time data on their health such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar content, calories etc. Wearable devices can be connected with the cloud and the doctors can use the stored patient data to determine the nature of treatment.
IoT is especially turning out to be a great help in the elderly’s care. Connected devices and sensors continuously monitor their health and send an alert to their family in case of an anomaly in health reading or an emergency. Drug adherence is another benefit associated with them as they constantly remind the patients to take their medication and follow-up appointments with the consultants.
Fundamentally, blockchain is a technology which records and stores data transactions on an encrypted digital ledger which can be shared between authorized users. In healthcare, it can be used as a centralized and shared pool of critical health data which doctors and clinicians can use to take a comprehensive view of the patient profiles and provide more accurate treatments.
Blockchain ensures a stronger data privacy and security system and in order to share the health-related information, one needs to look up the blockchain system whether the patient has given his/her consent to do so. It also reduces the time required for high-volume administrative activities and can be instrumental in facilitating research for predictive care and improved public health.
With blockchain, all the transactions are validated. This leaves no room for claim-related frauds which means an efficient claim processing and billing management.
Blockchain technology in healthcare not only aims to enhance data and interoperability but also to set up an excellent care delivery system and smooth treatment cycle while keeping the patients’ interest at the center stage.
Robots have been serving the healthcare industry for over three decades now and their application is sure to increase in days to come. They are handling a wide range of simple to complex responsibilities today.
Robotics has been able to simplify several time-consuming activities by automating them and thus minimizing the room for human errors. At the same time, they have freed up human resources to attend to more complex priorities. Today, robots are used to assist the surgeons in surgeries and perform complicated surgeries themselves. In 2017, there were 693,000 robotics-assisted procedures performed in the United States alone, according to iData Research. In the future, they are expected to contribute more to patient safety making people more independent.
Healthcare industry generates a massive amount of data each day which can give valuable information to the providers regarding people’s behavior, demographic limitations and challenges to healthcare accessibility.
It holds the key to devising better treatment plans, improving patient engagement, finding cures for chronic illnesses, and inventing solutions to improve public health.
Predictive analytics can help the providers prepare beforehand by identifying any change in healthcare trends and anticipating any threats based on prior cause-effect patterns such as epidemics, data breach, drug abuse etc. It can also be used to optimize staffing and associated costs as it can give shift managers the clarity on how many people will be required to support the patients at any given time.
Healthcare organizations have started to realize the potential of applications leveraging big data and analytics. BIS Research expects the global big data in the healthcare market to grow over $68.75 billion by 2025.
Emerging technologies are set to stabilize the sector and establish a unified healthcare system in the future not very far from now. With developments in medical research powered by technology, it would be possible to find a permanent cure to so-far incurable diseases and deliver superlative patient experiences.
AI, IoT, EMR, analytics etc. hold an immense potential to deliver highly effective care, facilitate early diagnosis, bring down treatment costs, facilitate better patient experience, all the while preventing physician burnout and improve staff productivity.