Healthcare is one of the industries to watch out for in the next few years. It’s not necessarily because of high profitability in this sector. Significant changes are expected, which may be good or bad news depending on whose point of view it is. If there’s anything that is guaranteed to induce expedient changes, though, it is technology. Tech infusions and trends in the medical or healthcare sector are expected to create helpful changes just like the following.
1.Greater efficiency through artificial intelligence
AI is changing the healthcare landscape in many ways. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are are used to achieve several goals especially the following:
With the help of AI, physicians can more quickly identify diseases and provide the corresponding treatments. AI can process big data that are helpful in coming up with accurate diagnosis. It is particularly useful in processing a variety of multimedia content, from case texts to images, videos, and medical examination results.
When it comes to drug discovery, AI is one of the core technologies used in the development of models for neuron interaction and biological responses to certain substances or chemicals. It speeds up the way new medicines are discovered and developed by providing accurate representations of biological-chemical reactions so researchers no longer have to go through certain stages of drug discovery and development, and proceed to the more advanced phases.
Moreover, AI provides the advantage of more organized workflows in healthcare facilities as well as in ensuring correct real-time accounting. It can handle many of the management, documentation, and financial aspects of healthcare so medical professionals can focus on more important tasks.
Accenture Consulting did a survey on AI perception in the healthcare industry and found that the healthcare industry is the top industry that uses artificial intelligence. The results indicate that an overwhelming majority of healthcare organizations believe that processes enabled by machine learning deliver real benefits. The survey also found that around 5 out of 10 healthcare companies are investing in machine learning across different processes including IT management, financial management, product delivery and management, and human resource management.
2.Convenience with remote healthcare
While healthcare mostly requires patients to go to a hospital or medical facility to be examined by a qualified physician and given the appropriate treatment, it’s also possible to provide health services remotely. This is what is known as telehealth, which entails virtual appointments with doctors, remote patient monitoring, first aid assistance to patients via live video chat or telephone, and store-and-forward care which is the collection of clinical information for transmission to a health facility for evaluation.
A study conducted by DataM Intelligence suggests that remote healthcare is set to become a $113 billion market by 2025. It will create several advantages not only to patients but also to healthcare facilities as they can tap on new revenue generation avenues. Through telehealth, doctors and hospitals can serve patients in other parts of the world to a certain extent. It’s important to emphasize, however, that international telehealth may require qualified on-demand medical interpreters to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to erroneous medical advice and services.
3.Expansive interconnectivity and data gathering with the IoMT
Much has changed since the Internet of Things (IoT) emerged. A sub-branch called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is bound to transform the healthcare sector as several smart devices are being developed for medical or healthcare use. They can be interconnected to facilitate more efficient monitoring and response to treatment and care needs. These devices include ECG monitors, fitness tracking bracelets or watches, sugar level monitors, automatic insulin pumps, calorie trackers, and gadgets to help watch over the elderly.
According to a Frost & Sullivan study, IoMT devices will number around 30 billion by 2021 with an expected value of more than $160 billion. By 2019, it is estimated that 87% of health systems will integrate IoMT. All of these will help create a healthcare system and information network with dramatically improved relevant data capture, service delivery, diagnosis, and response to threats. IoMT devices are not only for the benefit of individual users. More importantly, they are instrumental in big data accumulation and analytics that will significantly improve the healthcare industry.
4.Enhanced interaction and visualization through VR, AR, and MR
If you think virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) are technologies that are only used in games and entertainment, know that they also have applications in the medical field. The tech that creates more immersive gaming experiences can also be used for medical education, diagnosis, and even surgeries. A Goldman-Sachs report on the healthcare use of AR and VR tech projects that it will become a global market worth $5 billion with more around 3.4 million users.
One notable system that uses AR and VR is the AccuVein, which is designed to present a real-time map of blood vessels in the body to help doctors in safely working with valves and bifurcations during operations. Microsoft’s MR-employing HoloLens, on the other hand, is useful for educational purposes and for planning surgeries.
5.Fortified data security with blockchain
Blockchain is largely associated with bitcoin, but its applications go beyond cryptocurrency. In the medical industry, it us used to to secure and protect patients’ data. Because of its highly secure cryptography-based universal ledger system, blockchain can be used by healthcare facilities to share healthcare information without the risk of getting tampered with or accessed without the proper authorizations. This makes medical data sharing easier for hospitals and clinics to process in accordance to the safe data communication and usage requirements of government agencies such as HIPAA.
Additionally, blockchain can help minimize the prevalence of fake drugs and boost the confidence of customers on pharmaceutical products. Manufacturers can use blockchain codes in lieu of the usual barcodes or QR codes to monitor their products on the market and for customers to verify if the products they are buying are not counterfeits.
Technology is a vital component in the advancement of healthcare. There’s nothing to fear in the growing presence of tech in the medical field. What’s needed is proper testing, the development of best practices, and stringent regulation to avoid problems brought about by inappropriate procedures and the lack of systematic processes and handling of cases.