Covid-19 is impacting nearly all the practices of healthcare professionals.
Telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud computing, blockchain, internet of things, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) are changing the healthcare sector for the better.
The use of technology has proven beneficial for doctors and physicians to provide better medical services to their patients.
Remember the days when a person had to wait for days to get the results of any medical test? Even the doctors had to wait for the reports to diagnose a disease. But those days are gone now. Driven by the need to provide a better patient experience, the healthcare industry is experiencing a huge shift towards digital technologies. Technology is changing the way people live. And, when it comes to health, people always seek the best technology to cure illnesses and get healthier. Just a glance at the digital healthcare market will give an insight into how fast the healthcare industry is adopting different technologies. An estimate shows that the digital healthcare market will reach a whopping $509.2 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 27.7%.
Healthcare technology is making medical care equitable, affordable, interoperable, and accessible to people around the globe. Digital transformation is indeed revolutionizing every industry, but in healthcare specifically, technology is helping people lead a healthier, safer, and more productive life. Nowadays, everyone uses wearable gadgets to monitor their health, and it can be said that people have become more dependent on technology to live a stress-free life. Since people have become so much dependent on technology, it is important to understand which technologies are impacting the lives of people in what ways.
The healthcare industry deals with large volumes of data every day. The data can be used to provide better healthcare services to the patients if analyzed to gain insights. Data might contain personal information and other critical information about the patient and hence needs to be secured. Technologies can help secure electronic health records and health information exchange between different healthcare systems. There are many technologies that are currently improving the healthcare industry.
1. Telemedicine Is Providing More Opportunities for Healthcare Professionals
Source: Ruby Receptionists
The number of telehealth patients has shown a dramatic rise. The telehealth market size is projected to grow up to $16.7 billion by 2025. The reason behind the growth of telehealth is its scalability. Today’s telehealth technology is reaching the patients in the most remote regions of the world to provide quality healthcare services. Not all patients are able to meet the doctor in the scheduled time due to different reasons, and telemedicine can provide a solution to the issue. Telemedicine technology can minimize the need for meeting the doctor by providing at-home consultation through mobile devices. From accessing patients’ medical records to sending prescriptions to them, smartphones can allow doctors to complete small tasks from every corner of the world. Doctors are also using telemonitoring technology to monitor vital signs, symptoms, and blood levels of patients through a wireless network.
2. Artificial Intelligence is Automating Processes in Hospitals
Source: Allianz Global Investors
There are many ways AI is transforming the healthcare industry. AI-enabled robots can help provide robotic surgery. Robots can move in compact space and reach further than what humans are capable of. Surgeries can be done with small incisions, as robotic hands are smaller when compared to human hands. AI healthcare is also useful in medical imaging. The AI and deep learning can analyze CAT scans much faster than human radiologists, and detect diseases in just 1.2 seconds. Healthcare institutes can educate people about diseases based on their symptoms. For instance, AI chatbots can communicate with people about their symptoms. Based on the symptoms, chatbots can detect the disease. Chatbots, on the basis of machine learning algorithms, can also determine the severity of any disease and whether a doctor’s consultation is required or not. People usually do not share their psychological status. With AI chatbots, people get a platform where they can discuss their emotions without the fear of being judged.
3. Big Data and the Cloud Are Maintaining Electric Health Records
Source: Rydot infotech
Data is used in every industry to make decisions and grow businesses, and so is the case with the healthcare industry. Compiling and collating the healthcare data itself is a huge challenge, and big data has found its application in the healthcare industry to address this challenge. Big data can be useful in maintaining electronic health records, giving real-time alerts, and performing medical research. Based on the medical data of the patients of an area, big data can locate high infection zones. The healthcare institutes and governments can then take initiatives to prevent the spread of infection in real-time. The medical data contains some information like medical weaknesses and personal information that can be used against the patient. Hence, medical data should be kept confidential. Transferring this data to the cloud can help secure the medical data. A combination of public and private clouds can facilitate a more secure storage environment and provide remote access to both patients and doctors.
4. Blockchain is Increasing Transparency
Electronic medical records are the current way of gathering and transferring medical data across healthcare systems and service providers. Blockchain systems can address the limitations of electronic medical records and make data accessible on multiple platforms. For instance, one of the limitations of electronic medical records is that it requires health institutes to use the same hosting system to be able to connect and share data. On the other hand, Blockchain technology can allow the sharing of data across many systems, and send data wherever it needs to be without any limitations. The use of blockchain technology will also reduce the number of fake drugs and increase transparency. For example, what if a doctor needs to buy a drug and wants to verify the authenticity of the drug before ordering it. The doctor can use a blockchain-based application to get the information on the journey of the drug from the manufacturer to the pharmacy. If the drug is fake, then no information about the drug would be displayed in the application.
5. Internet of Things (IoT) Is Improving the Well-Being of Patients
IoT is the use of various devices connected via the internet for remote monitoring of the patient’s well-being. For instance, ECG monitors, fitness trackers, and smart sensors can measure pulse rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and even sugar level of a person. With continuous monitoring that IoT provides, healthcare practitioners can keep a constant watch on their patient’s health. IoT in the healthcare industry provides interoperability, end-to-end information exchange, and data movement, which helps in making healthcare services delivery more effective. The healthcare industry can also use IoT for research purposes. IoT devices collect massive data about the patient’s illness, which can be used for statistical study and research purposes.
6. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Are Providing New Opportunities for Doctors and Medical Students
Source: Seeking Alpha
The use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology is not something new and earth-shattering in medicine. Everyone knows that AR and VR are used by doctors for even complex procedures like neurosurgery. But, what’s interesting is that AR and VR can be helpful in much smaller practices as well including teaching the next generation of medical students. VR can help in the recovery of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Alzheimer‘s and dementia patients can retrieve memories and a sense of joy with the help of VR. AR, on the other hand, can help improve the first stick injection success. Vein visualization is a technology that uses AR to project veins on the surface of the skin. It helps to find veins for blood draws, and IV starts.
What people have seen so far in healthcare technology is just the tip of the iceberg. The adoption of healthcare technology will eventually rise to a point where patients will eventually demand its use for getting enhanced treatments. Thus, healthcare administrators should adopt healthcare technology to be ready for the future.