By Vladimir Kuzmenko, SVP of sales and business development, NIX United.
As healthcare becomes increasingly complex, the role of technology is evolving to offer new and innovative solutions that allow healthcare practices the opportunity to better serve their patients. However, as technology evolves and changes, healthcare as a whole must also grow and adapt to thrive in a complex and ever-changing ecosystem.
As we embark on a new decade (in which we’re now well into the first year), I’d like to examine a few of the more pressing trends that forward-thinking practices embracing currently and for the foreseeable future.
Some of these adoptions may include new systems and technologies being implemented, as well as technologies that are best-placed to keep up in these rapidly-changing areas of any profitable practice.
More importantly, however, is how these technologies might impact healthcare and how forward-thinking organizations take advantage of these opportunities. With this is mind, here are six trends that may influence healthcare in 2020 and beyond.
You may hear the term blockchain and think, “what does cryptocurrency have to do with helping patients?” However, blockchain has evolved and has many more applications than just new forms of currency. For instance, many urgent healthcare issues may be solved by utilizing blockchain, including:
- Secure health information transfer
- Health data management
- Reducing the number of counterfeit medicines on the market
In addition, blockchain technology can be used in innovative ways to allow organizations to access information on a secure channel that maintains privacy.
Electronic health records
For all the integration issues U.S. healthcare organizations experienced in integrating electronic health records into their practices in the last decade, there has been no more profound change in the practice of healthcare in the U.S.
These electronic records create opportunities to track and improve patient care and to find new, more efficient treatment methods by incorporating artificial intelligence technologies. Protecting a practice’s and the patient’s data privacy is also an issue that must be addressed beforehand, not after a breach has occurred.
Cognitive computing is a technique for dealing with large volumes of rapidly changing data. It involves self-learning systems using data mining, pattern recognition, natural language, and more to acquire patient and other data in real-time.
This is more than just an algorithm, as cognitive computing can be used to predict disease onset, data patterns, such as a drug’s effects on populations or individuals, to classify populations, and more. Cognitive computing can also be used to combine data from disparate sources to create new methods of understanding a patient’s condition or creating a patient 360° view.
Internet of Medical Things
Medical devices and applications connected to healthcare IT systems via the web comprise the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Wi-Fi-enabled devices facilitate machine-to-machine communication and link to cloud platforms for data storage. This might involve devices such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and smart sensors.
These devices may help healthcare practitioners improve treatment and even diagnose some diseases in their early stages. However, security is an important issue with these applications, particularly as these may involve patient data.
In a linked healthcare system, keeping a database accurate and up-to-date is a challenge organizations must embrace to allow them to serve their patients.
Particularly in pharmaceutical research, the need for information is crucial as there are medical, legal, and financial implications at every stage.
Virtual reality is in early practical stages of impacting healthcare. This technology allows surgeons and dentists, for example, to practice procedures and techniques without the need for live patients. Nurses may also benefit from VR training for CPR education.
But the benefits are not limited to practitioners. Patients can use VR to understand a surgery that is to be performed and the rehab needed. Among the other applications of VR are for both mental health and physical therapy, phantom limb treatments, brain damage rehabilitation, PTSD treatments, and chronic condition therapies.
These are only some of the advances inspiring healthcare practitioners, organizations, and businesses to better serve patients. Innovation remains the driving force behind healthcare advances and inspired companies will find new ways to benefit their clients in 2020 and beyond.