The healthcare industry in the US has a net worth of more than $800 billion. Being one of the most lucrative industries, it is also rapidly changing, driven by technology. Thanks to the pandemic, we’re witnessing a technological revolution that has allowed us to incorporate rigorous testing for drug development and introduce telemedicine and AI into healthcare.
Here are eight trends to look out for in the healthcare industry.
Though many firms and corporations were familiar with remote working before the pandemic, the healthcare industry particularly wasn’t. Virtual appointments and remote patient monitoring are relatively new interventions in the medical field. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in remote medical consultations. Patients can consult doctors and healthcare professionals over online meetings and phone calls rather than in-person visits.
Not only has telemedicine saved time, but it requires fewer resources than a clinic. Telemedicine has also introduced us to remote patient monitoring.
With the use of tools and gadgets driven by AI and machine learning technology, doctors and nurses can monitor patients without being in direct contact with them.
Through CCTV devices, it is more feasible to check on a large number of patients. Remote patient monitoring through the use of cameras and software saves time and eases the burden on the medical staff. However, telemedicine and technology also pose a new challenge for healthcare institutions – individuals with an executive MHA trained to manage and work with the latest medical devices and workflows efficiently.
2. AI disrupts healthcare
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword now. It has disrupted most industries and markets, creating new and better pathways for business and operations.
AI has been used for “augmented intelligence” to assist clinicians and doctors in their medical work, not to replace them entirely.
From drug development to forming a medical diagnosis, AI has a vital role to play.
For instance, AI technology has allowed doctors to analyze CT scans to detect illnesses like pneumonia. On the other hand, we have tools like Project InnerEye, which leverages AI and radiotherapy to enhance the 3D image of a patient and give results within minutes. Though the project is still in the works, it saves time when prescribing drugs and diagnosing cancer.
3. Extended reality
More than just a catchphrase, extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and augmented reality (AR). You might have seen or heard of VR devices in gaming and tech, but they’ve also made their way into healthcare.
With specialized lenses using the XR technology, it is easier to train surgeons and doctors. With XR devices, professionals can teach medical students without jeopardizing a patient’s life. There is a greater risk involved with practicing medical procedures on live patients than in a virtual simulation.
4. Cloud hosting and storage
Another form of technological disruption is the usage of cloud computing in storing sensitive patient information. Cloud storage is more secure than conventional data storage methods.
Nonetheless, cloud hosting solutions like the HIPAA improve the functionality and efficiency of medical staff. Notably, data storage isn’t the only useful feature of cloud computing.
Hospitals and healthcare professionals can use cloud computing for security, appointment management, communication, patient history, and collecting healthcare provider feedback.
5. Wearable devices
Wearable technology is one of healthcare’s most commonly used and important discoveries. Smartwatches and smart fitness bands collect valuable health data like blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate.
They’re also helpful in tracking physical exercise and breathing during intense physical activity. Especially people who forget to take medicines on time can use wearable devices to set reminders or track progress. Since most people have smartphones, wearable devices are compatible with them and widely used.
Most devices also have pedometers and breathing rate monitors designed to detect life-threatening pulse levels when you engage in intense physical activity.
6. Mental health discourse is gaining momentum
Though not a technological trend, in recent years, mental health and discourse on mental health have gained momentum in the healthcare industry. Where previously topics of anxiety, depression, and illnesses like schizophrenia were associated with supernatural elements, they are now openly discussed.
There is far less judgment in the healthcare industry regarding mental health issues. Doctors and patients are more open to discussing mental health and its problems. Previously physical health was given precedence over mental. However, both are closely tied.
According to the American Hospital Association, almost 70% of patients with behavioral health issues have psychiatric comorbidities, and the healthcare industry must address them.
7. Digital twins and simulations
Digital twins are the concept and practice of using models based on real-world data to simulate a process or system. Like other industries, healthcare is employing the use of digital twins and simulations.
Creating a virtual patient for testing drugs and treatment plans is more feasible. It requires less time than it takes to roll out new medicine and test its use on the general public.
Initially, the ideas of simulations and digital twins were applied to specific organs or systems only. However, now scientists can use these models to simulate the entire human body and study the impact of a drug or treatment on the whole body, not just in a localized region.
Digital twins and simulations help medical experts inspect pathologies and treatments before being tested on human beings. It reduces the risk involved in trying out new medicine and treatment plans.
8. Personalized medicine
Previously, medicines and treatment plans had a one-size-fits-all approach. The one-size-fits-all strategy was approved for medication and treatment plans after countless trials to improve their efficacy.
With rigorous research and testing, these medicines treated many patients with a low risk for side effects. However, with modern technology like genomics, digital twins, and AI, medical scientists can adopt a more personalized approach for every patient.
For instance, the Empa center in Sweden uses mathematical modeling and AI to predict the correct dosage of medicines for patients. Such mechanisms are effective for patients suffering from chronic pain or when administering high doses, can cause adverse harm to a patient’s health.
The healthcare industry has vastly changed in the last few decades. Not just regarding the efficiency of medical experts but pathologies and treatment plans. We have a better understanding of individual patient needs and certain life-threatening illnesses. Doctors and medical staff are more equipped with resources to cater to patient needs.