Top Technology Trends Transforming Healthcare in 2020
Digital transformation is ongoing in a wide variety of industries, and healthcare is no exception. The healthcare sector of the economy will continue to be transformed in 2020 by new devices and technologies. In some cases, these technologies, like wearable devices and video conferencing, have already become fairly common in consumer and business settings. Other technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality will push the envelope of what’s possible.
Small and medium organizations in the healthcare industry can expect to see their competitors implementing new ways to improve treatment outcomes, offer more flexible patient care, and reduce their costs.
Here are six impactful trends driving the transformation of healthcare using new technologies. In general, they focus on innovative ways to interact with patients, reduce errors, and improve the effectiveness of treatment plans.
1. Medical Wearable Devices
The most successful wearable devices in the consumer market have been products like Apple’s iWatch and activity trackers like Fitbit’s smart bracelets. Other wearable products have had difficulty gaining traction. In the healthcare field, however, wearable medical devices are transforming how doctors treat their patients.
This segment of the wearable device market has been projected to grow to $14 billion by 2024, according to a 2018 report. Wearable medical devices make it possible for doctors to monitor and treat their patients outside of a healthcare setting. Examples of wearable devices include:
- ECG monitors like Withings’s Move ECG
- Blood pressure monitors like Omron Healthcare’s HeartGuide
- Biosensors like Philips’s adhesive wireless patch
- Glucose monitors like Medtronic MiniMed’s Guardian Connect System
These wearable devices make it possible for healthcare providers to collect vital data from patients and continuously monitor the progress of their treatment. The ability to respond faster to changes in their patient’s vital signs significantly improves their treatment outcomes.
2. Remote Health Care Technologies
Remote health care, sometimes referred to as telehealth or telemedicine, is offering new ways for patients to connect with their doctors using the internet and mobile technologies.
Patients can provide their doctors with updates quickly and easily, without the need for an office visit or phone call. Medical apps can calculate variable medications like insulin dosages based on activity levels and daily diets. Doctors and EMTs can interact with patients over video- or teleconferencing systems to provide direction or monitor treatments. These examples of remote technologies are expanding treatment options for patients with both acute and chronic conditions.
3. Big Data Analytics
Big Data technologies have been transforming many industries by making it possible to discover patterns and insights in extensive data sets. Many parts of the healthcare industry are all taking advantage of big data, including healthcare providers, medical device manufacturers, and insurers. When big data analytics is applied to treatment plans, medical outcomes, and medical records, the efficiency gains in both cost and service quality can be impressive.
Big data can be used to improve the quality of healthcare service in several ways:
- Reduced medication errors: Applications can screen prescriptions for errors by analyzing a patient’s medical records and ensuring that they are getting the correct dosage and avoiding any contraindicated medications.
- Better staffing decisions: Big data analytics can generate predictions of daily patient counts to help healthcare providers staff accordingly in advance.
- Improved preventive care: Analysis of medical records and treatment plans can help healthcare providers anticipate and flag patients for preventative care.
4. Virtual Reality
Most people probably associate virtual reality with gaming, but healthcare applications of this technology are showing promise, though they’re still in an experimental stage.
One example of this is a VR treatment trial for patients struggling with chronic pain who don’t respond to traditional treatments. Depending on the source of chronic pain, VR software can direct physical therapy exercises or teach psychological techniques that help patients manage their symptoms.
VR software can also be valuable in educational settings for medical students to illustrate procedures with 3D and interactive lessons. Medical schools have also begun to experiment with VR simulations of medical emergencies to teach their students how to treat patients under time pressure.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence applications are transforming the way healthcare providers interact with their patients. AI can aid doctors with diagnoses, and for patients AI chatbots can automate customer service. Chatbots are sophisticated natural language programs, and they can handle many of the routine transactions and questions that patients have. When a healthcare provider utilizes these programs in their practice, it frees up time for doctors, nurses and receptionists to focus on more critical communications and patient issues that require their expertise. Global healthcare chatbot services are projected to reach $300 million by 2023.
AI is also improving healthcare outcomes in the field of precision medicine. Artificial intelligence applications are helping doctors with a variety of tasks: interpreting X-ray and MRI imagery, choosing the best drug for a set of conditions, and even analyzing a patient’s genome to discover hidden pathologies. These advances in AI software can improve doctors’ outcomes by allowing them to analyze complex situations faster, identify oversights, and recognize rare medical conditions. It’s particularly effective when combined with big data analysis.
6. Blockchain-Powered Medical Records
Blockchain technology is the public records software popularized by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It’s used to record transactions and establish ownership securely. Other industries have begun to implement a blockchain method for their public record systems, and in healthcare, it is being used for patient medical records.
Blockchain functions as a digital ledger that employs encryption to enforce privacy. It may well revolutionize the way medical records are stored and shared between medical organizations securely.
A recent study in 2019 predicted that blockchain services and software products might grow by 64% by 2025. The primary benefit that industry experts are predicting is the prevention of data breaches involving patient records and other personal information. The costliness of a breach, especially in the healthcare industry, given HIPPA rules and other regulations, means that protecting patient data is a critical issue for the industry. If blockchain can help prevent breaches, it can reduce the cost of cybersecurity in the healthcare industry.
Exploring the Possibilities
Healthcare providers and other organizations in the healthcare industry who want to explore these new technologies can count on Outsource IT for help. We can assess your current systems, recommend ways to improve your processes, and implement enhancements to your infrastructure to keep you ahead of the competition. Contact your Outsource IT account manager today to learn more.
Healthcare providers and other organizations in the healthcare industry who want to explore these new technologies can count on Outsource IT for help. We can assess your current systems, recommend ways to improve your processes, and implement enhancements to your infrastructure to accommodate new software and technologies. Contact your Outsource IT account manager today to learn more.