December 12, 2017
Everyone has swapped their turkeys and pumpkins for decorative lights and Christmas trees. As the cold air moves in and 2017 moves out, it is time to brace ourselves for the new year and innovative technology that is expected to sweep us off our feet. In this blog, we will discuss how technology will shape the healthcare industry in 2018.
It is obvious that whatever we have developed today will be used in the future. With over USD 9 trillion spent globally on the healthcare industry, a good chuck of that money is being used to solve some of the complex challenges that the industry faces. Challenges such as healthcare data management, reach to rural areas, medication adherence, patient-doctor communication, remote monitoring, workflow optimization, and automation of routine processes, are being addressed using technology.
The mission that digital health is currently on, and has been on over the years, is to solve healthcare challenges effectively and improve patient experience irrespective of whether the patient is in a hospital or at home recovering.
As healthcare is one of the most crucial and possibly the biggest industry in the world, it is also one that heavily uses the latest technologies. Artificial intelligence along with big data give doctors and physicians the opportunity to prevent certain diseases. Given that patient data is moving towards the cloud, AI can analyze this data, understand the mechanisms of a disease and provide doctors with proactive solutions that can reduce or eliminate the chances of a disease.
Not just analytics, AI can help patients who have lost a limb. With intelligent prostheses, patients can now do much more! These new protheses can distinguish pressure, light, etc., better. AI is revolutionizing the protheses market within the healthcare industry. AI coupled with robots also makes for intelligent assistants.
With so many AI oriented applications and processes, the need for securing patient information is high. 2018 is expected to see a huge influx of patient data – meaning data security will become a key aspect for the healthcare industry.
Electronic health records, otherwise referred to as EHRs, are the vogue currently. Most of the patient data is digitized and stored in the cloud so that it can be accessed at anytime and anywhere! If not protected properly, it leaves the door open for data theft and malicious attack.
As many hospitals and enterprises adopt the BYOD policy, it is getting increasingly difficult to prevent data theft. Also, hospitals and other leading healthcare providers have native apps of their own. These are apps that gather and store patient health information. If the transmission of this information onto the cloud is not done securely, it can have serious repercussions.
A study found that over 55% pediatric hospitalists either sent or received health information via text messages on their personal smartphones. Only 11% reported that their institutions offered some sort of encryption mechanism for text messaging.
Using unencrypted mobile communication is risky for all stakeholders involved. For this reason, 2018 will be focused mostly around securing EHRs and their transmission from place to place.
Humans in the 21st century can be considered as digital omnivores. We access the internet through various touch points such as smartphones, tablets, iPads, laptops, desktops, and other such devices. The internet is accessed by all types of individuals: patients, caregivers, doctors, publishers, etc. Digital health takes advantage of this connected environment.
Through various mobile solutions, healthcare providers and caregivers can communicate with their patients and each other easily, access EHRs, post-operation monitor, diagnose fatal accidents remotely, etc. The scope of what can be done through digital health is vast.
Also as the BYOD policy, as mentioned above, is being adopted widely, it becomes easy for doctors to attend to their patients. Of all the categories of individuals, patients are the ones who use digital health solutions the most. Be it wearables, apps, etc. patients are the ones who drive the market for digital health.
Patients are crucial to digital health movement. They opt for digital healthcare solutions because it improves their experience, simplifies certain processes, and saves them of a few dollars.
-Emerging Markets – Telemedicine has seen exponential growth in all the major markets across the world. As smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, telemedicine is expected to penetrate the emerging markets as well. In 2018, we will witness telemedicine penetrate third world countries and in fact in our opinion will flourish there. Asia-Pacific is expected to the fastest adopting region.
-Accessibility and Affordability – As mentioned above, telemedicine is expected to flourish in the third world countries as the smartphone has become affordable. Internet as well has become accessible for many countries, making it possible for telemedicine (read – digital health) to transform the way healthcare is perceived in such countries.
-BYOD – This is expected to completely radicalize the healthcare industry. As more and more tech savvy doctors and patient use their smartphones for health-related communications, the scope of digital health is only going to increase.
Digitization of healthcare will only lead to more opportunities for the industry to grow. As we can currently see, the number healthcare apps has increased five-fold over the past couple of years. In addition, these apps are also paving the way for the entire industry to digitally transform. And it is a win-win for the industry as well as traditional cumbersome workflows are being simplified with efficient digital tools, improvement in patient journey and experience, etc. These are only a few ways of how digital health is going to transform the healthcare industry in 2018.
To epigrammatically put it, digital health is expected to drive the healthcare market in 2018 and also the years to come. It has great potential to become the face of healthcare in a few years’ time. It helps in delivering better healthcare services to people across the world. As healthcare providers look to enhance their ability to evaluate and diagnose patients, digital health has already seen a good share of adopters. 2018 will only prove the concept of digital health to be robust!
What are your thoughts about digital health? Do you think the aforementioned trends will define how healthcare is perceived in 2018? Share your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below.