Recently, hospitals in China have deployed robots to help doctors in combating the coronavirus menace. Nothing can better exemplify the growing healthcare IT trends creating remarkable impact in service and delivery. Information technology has pierced global healthcare to such an extent that almost every day we are witnessing new innovations applicable today or may be after few years.
We have seen the emergence of artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain technology, cryptocurrency in global healthcare. Patient generated data is another aspect which is already seeing some revolutionary changes as is the department of health e-commerce. The future of healthcare- not just in first world nations but everywhere will be dependent on how things play out in the coming few years. This is a great time to get an understanding of how IT trends are set to influence healthcare.
Medical robotics beyond surgery
China has pressed in robotic services to combat coronavirus. One of the emerging trends is to tap the potential of robots in general healthcare assistance beyond surgery. The global medical robot market is estimated to touch $23 billion by 2023 as reported by Forbes.
Robots would be entrusted with varied tasks like assisting doctors examine patients through teleservices, helping rehabilitation patients, nursing, transporting medical supplies, disinfecting rooms and packaging devices. Robots in the form of micro-bots are showing promises in targeted therapy allowing to treat only a specific body part without affecting the surrounding part as in radiation or antimicrobial therapy.
The one-size-fits-for-all is fading from global healthcare. 3D printing is showing a new way in replication by creating patient-specific organs and body parts. Imagine organ transplantation with 3D printed heart, kidney, etc. 3D printed prosthetic limbs would rightly fit the patient’s requirements. It is cost-effective providing more comfort to the patient. It is seeing more applications in dentistry and orthodontics.
In one of the latest Healthcare IT trends, the computers would be able to see and understand through visual inputs. This specific training of the computer is known as machine vision and the currently being used for diagnosis and viewing scans and images etc. It can help doctors know definitely the amount of blood loss a woman is likely to face in childbirth making them well prepared to take adequate measures. It is seeing a growing use in reading CT scan to spot specific neurological and cardiovascular disorders and X-Ray images for tumor detection.
Creating a near real-time replica of a physical object is known as the digital twins. In healthcare, it is the life-long data of an individual powered by AI to question the data and get specific answers. With this, doctors can assess the success probability of a particular treatment procedure. Digital twins can help in enhancing efficacy of precision medicine with patient-centric approach improving patient experience. Although in the early stages of development, its future potential is unlimited.
Growing demand for remote patient monitoring in the underserved areas through telemedicine or improve the network speed and outcome in long-distance surgeries, 5G support is imperative. It would enable transmitting large files fast helping physicians have a quick review enabling efficient treatment delivery through AR and VR applications.
AR, VR and Mixed Reality
Augmented and Virtual realities are words you usually do not associate with healthcare or hospitals but will see both being utilized more often in this industry. Virtual reality is entering the surgeon’s rooms where they can practice doing complicated procedures in a virtual environment. VR may not have a massive impact on healthcare technology trends but it is being increasingly utilized in hospitals.
Augmented Reality however is one of the emerging healthcare trends this year. The VR and AR market in healthcare is expected to touch $5.1 billion by 2025.
VR is helping patients suffering from depression, autism, and cancer and vision impairment. AR can be used to see diagnoses and procedures in front of everyone’s eyes- which will be great for training purposes. It is providing additional support to surgeons and physicians in reconnecting blood vessels during a critical surgery. In medical education, there wouldn’t be a need to rote learn content- it will be in front of them anytime they wish with the help of AR.
Although the usage of both AR and VR is in nascent stages in healthcare today, expect them to be an integral part of your hospital in the coming years. Whoever thought Virtual and Augmented reality was only geared towards gamers and tech enthusiasts was clearly wrong.
AR and VR intertwined gives mixed reality. It not only extends educative possibilities of medical professionals and students but also helps in making patients understand their conditions and proposed treatment plans.
Wearable devices and how it affects healthcare IT trends
Another major development assisted by the help of a technological leap is the wearable device. From Apple watch to the flit-bit wearable devices that record your health developments are among the de-facto emerging healthcare technology trends this year.
These devices were unleashed for the health conscious that could record their daily run or swim but they are here to stay and be integral in the future- according to a report from an international data corporation by 2020, approximately 25% of the population will be wearing and recording their health data.
A person can record and share their information with their doctors or healthcare units. Healthcare IT trends will involve a lot of wearable devices. Everything from blood pressure to heart rate will be recorded by the individual. The doctors can keep daily track and even a slight difference would immediately be noticed and the individual will be alerted. This is revolutionary.
Upgraded wearable tech
Healthcare wearable would no more be limited to counting calories and footsteps. With more people considering it as a vital tool, this healthcare IT trend is showing no signs of retreat. Smartwatches are devised to monitor ECG and detecting atrial fibrillation which can be transmitted to your physician via smartphone. Wearables in the form of biosensor patches to monitor blood glucose, heartbeat, body temperature and other parameters are soon to see widespread adoption. The aim is to make consumers proactive and take quick action in case there is any anomaly in parameters.
Advent of Artificial Intelligence
AI is one technological industry that has truly come into its own in the past few years and healthcare IT trends dictate that it will make its presence felt in the healthcare sector as well. It has been a steady progress- as of now most AI activities in hospitals center on doing robotic automation assistance but expect this situation to change.
Artificial Intelligence will eventually be used for clinical decision support, disease management and pathology. Industry insiders are predicting that as soon as the end of next year around half if all leading healthcare systems will be using some form of Artificial intelligence assistance and support.
Among the many emerging healthcare trends to happen in recent times the advent of artificial intelligence assistance is the most well know to the general public. The science fiction image of robots doing open heart surgery is not too far off in the future- soon we would be operated by robot surgeons.
Another trend that should pick up this year is telemedicine, which means interacting with your physician virtually. A skype session for example would be fantastic for the elderly and senior citizens who can get all the information they need without leaving their house.
If healthcare IT trends had one choice, which is overwhelmingly that is desired by the masses- it is telemedicine. A recent advisory board survey found that a staggering 77% of consumers are interested in receiving their healthcare virtually, from the comfort of their homes and 19% had already done so, and enjoyed the process.
The accessibility, freedom and comfort afforded will make sure telemedicine is a routine experience in healthcare in a few years. Again- expect this trend to become the norm not just in first world nations but around the world.
A new era of Virtual Healthcare is on the horizon
Never before telemedicine found importance in healthcare as is now when patients are preferring long distance healthcare consultations instead of crowding in the OPD. In a situation where healthcare organizations are fighting a tough battle to push up the radically declining earnings since last few months, empowering virtual healthcare and stressing on highly positive patient experience has been the lone savior. Nearly 81% of healthcare CFOs responding in a survey felt, widespread implementation of Virtual healthcare technology and its optimization is vital as a long-term survival strategy of the organizations.
Videoconferencing tech boosts mental health
Videoconferencing in telehealth has been plagued by several issues ranging from tech upgrade to privacy issues, but the recent development in social distancing practice seemed to have broken most of the impediments of adopting it. Virtual healthcare is evolving in new forms and finding more takers. Although several authoritative regulations are waived owing to the prevailing pandemic, the patients still need to get necessary device set ups like a smartphone or laptop with a stable net connection and be savvy enough to download and install all the required software. Meeting a doctor/psychologist over video can also be confidence-boosting especially for patients with very restricted mobility. They can feel the bedside care that makes them feel better.
In recent months, healthcare implications of videoconferencing have moved far beyond the physical health, it has become an important tool to boost mental health as well. Meeting friends and loved ones far away through videoconferencing has unusual emotional benefits according to a psychologist. This face-to-face virtual communication triggers the release of specific neurotransmitters that lower the stress and anxiety.
Relation between doctors and hospitals
Another one of healthcare IT trends that will have aftereffects in the future is the way practices are conducted. Today most physicians in America practice in hospitals which wasn’t a trend even five years back. As new technologies define the possibilities, most practicing doctors in the future will not have their own clinic or practice.
The new trend would be seeking long-term employment with health systems. How this will affect practices and trends in other parts of the world is yet to be foreseen but it could be similar to the American system. Most systems or even large hospitals are getting better equipped and smoothly run, not to mention insurance issues- many patients today are uninsured which directly affects healthcare.
Expect doctors to find steady, well-maintained work in Government institutions and forego independent practice. Healthcare technology trends will define a steady relationship between the doctor and the healthcare unit.
Healthcare IT trends will have a major impact not just on the healthcare units but in all society. From the emergence of robotics and AI to individual decisions by practicing physicians and doctors the healthcare landscape is going through a major change.