The biggest tech trends in healthcare include acceleration of remote healthcare and telehealth, increased adoption of artificial intelligence, cloud-enabled digital technologies, and blockchain technologies. According to my research, these technologies will open up the path for patients to gain more power, while at the same time, help health care providers deliver the best care results possible.
Let’s discuss all 4 tech trends:
1. THE ACCELERATION OF CARE TO HOME HEALTH
Last year, we saw a significant rise in home-based health services, aided by decentralized technologies that have moved into the home. Technological advances and increased regulatory support will continue to enable the industry to move out of the clinic and into the home. Advantages of home hospital programs include a reduction in hospital-based staffing needs, increased capacity for those patients who do need inpatient care, decreased exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses for patients and healthcare professionals, and improved patient and family member experience. Because of this, we will see more health systems delivering hospital-level care in the comfort of the patient’s home, and telehealth virtual visits as a key communications tool for remote experts, nurses, and patients. This will be supported by technologies such as remote patient monitoring, and artificial intelligence-based predictive analytics and machine learning software like WoundWiseIQ – a software application that helps provide remote wound care to patients by connecting the patient and their nurse, to a remote wound care expert.
2. EXPANDED UTILIZATION OF TELEHEALTH TECHNOLOGIES
During the Pandemic, the explosion of telehealth effectively eliminated the geographical constraints that in the past forced patients to walk into their local hospitals and providers. Some studies predict that post-pandemic, telehealth will standardize at 30% to 40% of all patient interactions. As we move forward, patients want to be able to select providers from their mobile phone and from the comfort of their own home; and to be able to choose the provider that works for them. Technologies will enable this because the patient will be armed with ever-increasing amounts of personal health data at from wearable devices and other data sources. This will be extremely important for equality in healthcare for remote patients or underserved communities where they may not have access to the best physicians and nurses.
AI-based telehealth provides a new generation of affordable and accurate sensing devices that can be used to examine, monitor or diagnose patients remotely, as well as new communication technologies that will help transform a visit to the doctor’s office into a virtual experience, enabling a patient to secure more effective, frequent and affordable physician access.
What does this mean for health care providers? It means that to compete, as well as to begin to recover lost revenue from not getting as many onsite visits, they will not only need to expand their telehealth program, but they will need to market themselves more, by devoting resources to building patient loyalty and into creating ‘raving fans’ out of their patients – just like a businesses would do for its customers!
“There’s a lot of cost savings to the health care system to be achieved by helping patients with chronic diseases with their health status. Those certainly seem very well-suited both to wearables and the monitoring devices in tandem with a telehealth solution. It allows for lower costs, for fewer touches with the clinician. It doesn’t force the person to come to a medical center. It allows for more continuous integration with medical records so you’re getting a more longitudinal view of a patient’s health status. All of this is attractive to investors.”
Managing Director of Healthcare
KKR & Co.
3. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) IMPROVES CARE WHILE CHANGING THE ROLE OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
In the last year, we have witnessed substantial advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – technologies being applied in healthcare that are resulting in improvements in both diagnosis and treatment. Health care providers continue to transition to value-based care, as they focused on effectively manage quality measures, patient experience measures, provider performance measures, and other key metrics.
In the coming year, as the volume of data increases; and as AI systems continue to improve, having high-quality data will be required for competitive advantage. AI systems focus on diagnosis and recommended treatments, enabling services to be delivered faster, at lower costs and with increased efficiency. These benefits will drive providers and payors to invest hundreds of millions of dollars toward building predictive models to infuse intelligent “next best actions” into their workflows that will help them manage the health of their patient populations more effectively. For example, BurnIQ, a patented product developed by healthcare startup, www.medcomplianceiq.com, utilizes AI and ultrasound video to analyze burn wounds to provide data to the physician (that they do not have access to today thus improving results) about the severity of the burn damage located beneath the visual surface of the skin.
4. BLOCKCHAIN AND PATIENT-OWNED DATA
Today’s healthcare information systems are incredibly fragmented, with patient data from different sources – for example physicians, pharmacies, labs, urgent cares and more – all kept in their own siloed CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. Many large hospitals are working on this through interoperability, but it has been slow progress, because of resistance to change by powerful hospital IT departments and CRM providers who do not want to give up control. The fact is that once a patient gets any kind of work done outside of that one hospital system, the data begins to scatter, and this limits the ability of a physician to generate a holistic view of the patient’s information, thus restricting them from producing the best health outcomes for the patient. For example, think about an Urgent Care physician who sees a patient for the first time and has to make recommendations on treatment without having access to the patient’s full history, medications, and other critical medical data.
One of the technologies that can change this – is Blockchain. Blockchain applications can be used to eliminate data silos, enable real-time access to patient information, and return control to patients for the use of their personal data – all in a highly-secure digital environment. In the coming year, we will see the continued expansion of blockchain applications in health care. Patients will benefit too, because it will facilitate patients owning, managing, and even monetizing their own personal health data. One of the healthcare tech startup companies trying to attack this problem is www.lemurpbc.org, who is developing a platform that gives patients the power and access to their own medical record data, and the ability to share this data with healthcare providers regardless of the location of care.
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