With the advent of growing technology, new paths have opened in the healthcare ecosystem promoting enhanced care and better treatment outcomes as well as reducing cost and time consumption. The digitization of businesses across industries is accelerating the next-generation technology invocation in the healthcare domain. Furthermore, the pandemic has accelerated the technological transformation of the healthcare sector making consumers more conscious about their wellbeing. Studies reveal, consumers using virtual visits rose from 15% to 19% from 2019 to early 2020 and again increased to 28% in April 2020.
“The healthcare industry is in the midst of a technological transformation with the goal of improving patient care, and IT needs to be ready to support this progression.” By Susan Biddle, Sr. Director of Healthcare, Fortinet.
During the past decades, many healthcare organizations have incorporated digital technologies into their operational sectors. However, they frequently adopted a fragmented strategy for many initiatives, such as installing electronic health record (EHR) systems, developing apps, and experimenting with disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), while holding a conventional approach in their treatment procedures and consumer engagement. Only recently have we begun to see technology being leveraged to deliver accurate, user-friendly solutions that are supported by reliable data.
Thus, emerging technology is ushering in a new wave of developments in healthcare fundamentally changing the ways of patient consultations, diagnosis, and treatment procedures. The digital era opens the scope of rendering remote health check-ups and treatments. Over the years, the healthcare sector has undergone some transformational changes in the areas of technology usage. However, the transition in the healthcare domain was happening considerably at a slower pace as compared to the other industries until the pandemic struck the overnight service response to telemedicine, monitoring the health remotely. This indeed turned out as a convenient and safer way to manage health issues not only during the COVID 19 times but also times in general. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate there are 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections annually, which lead to 99,000 deaths.
Key technology drivers to bring change in the healthcare practices.
Remote Patient Monitoring
RPM is essentially the use of interconnected electronic tools to record patient health and medical information in one place, which is then examined by a clinician remotely. RPM enables practitioners to monitor patients in-between clinic visits or when in-person care is not feasible. It can be used to treat both acute and chronic diseases. RPM involves the use of many different kinds of equipment, including blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, weight measuring scales, oximeters, heart monitors, and much more. Moreover, other types of RPM include wearables like Fitbits and smartwatches that are designed to collect the data of users’ personal health and exercise. These are useful to track user’s overall health conditions and treat long-term diseases. This practice is becoming so beneficial that 88% of healthcare providers had invested in or were evaluating adding RPM to their practice. In addition to removing time and geographical restrictions, this technology has also increased patient awareness of and engagement in the treatment process.
The application of AI in medical health has had it substantiate share of debate considering the fact that the use of AI in medical practices can literally be a matter of life and death. Numerous instances have shown how AI has the ability to help physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in their day-to-day job. To briefly state some of the benefits, AI in healthcare can improve the overall treatment outcome, improve people’s wellbeing, provide accurate data for diagnosis, and so on. By analyzing huge data collected from public sectors and other standard sources, AI can help predict the spread of many contagious diseases. In fact, AI has the potential to be a key component of the global public health effort in the fight against pandemics and epidemics.
Furthermore, AI can help to resolve mental illness by detecting behavioral signs of anxiety and depression with over 90% accuracy. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) backed by artificial intelligence can help people suffering from neuromuscular disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, or spinal cord injury. In conditions when the patient is unable to communicate, BCIs acquire brain signals, analyze them, and translate them into commands that are relayed to output devices. Such technology terms that once seemed like jargon are becoming today’s imperative for solving health issues.
Digital Therapeutics (DTx)
Nowadays, we are capable of monitoring our health easily with the help of various apps, mobile devices, sensors, virtual reality, IoT, and other tools. Digital therapeutics, one of the most popular trends in the mobile health (mHealth) domain, implies the confluence of software and healthcare to deliver better clinical outcomes. It’s a user-empowering technology that provides customized health services enabling users to monitor and prevent health problems. There is a fair possibility that DTx helps in curing some of the complex ailments like Alzheimer’s, insomnia, type II diabetes, congestive heart failure, depression, etc.
Currently, the healthcare industry is at the pinnacle of success in terms of technological expertise. The pathbreaking developments brought about by advanced technologies are going to positively impact millions of lives across the globe. Going onwards there is an ample hope of finding cures for many untreated ailments. Most importantly, the healthcare sector is also experiencing a transformation in its approach of giving care. Physicians are showing more openness and faith in relying upon information about patients gathered from DIY devices. As a result, there has been a tremendous improvement in patient engagement with the care provider and the treatment process.