In the healthcare industry, innovation is a necessity. And over the past decade, technology has been reshaping the way people receive health services and how medical professionals do their work. But the digital transformation in the healthcare industry goes beyond the commercial and individual level. On the surface, we see wearable medical devices, physicians in our pockets, and online appointment booking systems. But behind these intuitive technologies, several other innovations could completely change health care soon.
Here are five key innovations that are transforming the healthcare industry and patients’ lives.
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Big data has long since entered the industry, and it’s making the lives of medical professionals easier, or at least those in the lab and R&D departments. Hospitals are using AI and machine learning to develop a more accurate staffing system based on hospital admission patterns and past activities. This ensures that the hospital or clinic isn’t understaffed and helps reduce wait times in the ER. AI also helps fill gaps in areas prone to human error, including patient record analysis, diagnosis, and preventive care. It also helps physicians reduce medication errors by assessing prescriptions against a patient’s health record.
2. Drug discovery & clinical development
AI is also assisting pharmaceutical researchers in organizing data, supporting analysis, and expediting drug discovery. Labs and analytical instrument companies use digital technologies such as modeling and simulation and computer-assisted clinical trials to make more informed decisions faster. Labs are now being equipped with power tools to analyze massive volumes of data for many applications.
For instance, scientists can now access digital biomarkers to zoom in on sub-populations suitable for clinical trials. Moreover, the use of digital monitoring systems helps them ensure increased patient adherence to the drugs being tested to arrive at evidence-backed conclusions more efficiently.
3. Blockchain electronic health records
Blockchain is not a new buzzword. In fact, people’s understanding of it is often limited to cryptocurrency. However, it is instrumental in the medical industry as it enables computerized transactions that are secure and more cost-efficient, sans third parties such as banks. On top of that, blockchain also improves the accuracy of medical records and prevents data breaches and other security concerns.
Blockchain has been so important in the industry that the market’s investment in it is set to reach $890.5 million by 2023. However, while the technology is advanced, EHR (electronic health records) systems are yet to be perfect. The industry still has a long way to go to ensure seamless integration and that hospital/clinic employees use EHR systems properly.
4. On-demand healthcare & telemedicine
Telemedicine or health care delivered remotely has become increasingly popular over the past few years. However, these systems are only as good as the people who use them. Some physicians, clinics, and patients still heavily rely on traditional modes of delivery despite having a telemedicine option at their disposal. However, with apps and software becoming more intuitive, we could see a rise in adoption in the coming years.
Over the years, telemedicine has proven to be beneficial for people seeking on-demand and personalized care. Services such as “concierge doctors” and digital therapy sessions have become more popular, especially during the pandemic. Nowadays, people can easily consult with their physician, get a second opinion, and have their prescriptions refilled from the comforts of their homes. In the future, we can expect telemedicine to become more accessible to everyone as this method of delivery has proven to be useful, more convenient, and cost-efficient for hospitals and clinics.
5. Connected virtual monitoring
Remote medical monitoring is another emerging technology that’s shaping everyday lives. People with chronic conditions, for example, can use wearable medical devices so they can transmit real-time data to their physicians and become more active participants in their well-being.
Gadgets like fitness trackers, wearable ECG and blood pressure monitors, and biosensors provide real-time information to patients and give doctors a more detailed analysis of their patient’s condition so they can take steps to prevent serious complications. And with the addition of 5G technologies, patients can now get life-saving medical advice instantaneously.
The modern healthcare landscape still has a long way to go. Nowadays, most people and healthcare businesses still deal with long lines in the triage area, paper bills and invoices, dated ERP systems, and a pile of time-consuming manual tasks. But in the next years, we will start seeing advancements in not only the method of delivery of healthcare services but the whole healthcare experience as a whole.