By Juan Hoyos, chief commercial officer, Cinq North America.
Technology is changing every aspect of our lives, including how we manage our health. Healthcare is an $8 trillion industry that has always used technology to advance diagnostic tools, preventive treatment, and quality of care – all with the aim of improving and saving lives.
However, it’s also been criticized for a slow and unsteady embrace of new technology. A pre-pandemic survey noted that only 32 percent of U.S. physicians and 27 percent of U.S. consumers rated their healthcare system as performing well in terms of introducing new digital technologies.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the healthcare industry’s adoption and usage of new technologies, and consumers are taking note. Like other sectors, the industry has undergone years of change and challenges in a matter of months, and I predict these changes are here to stay even after the pandemic subsides. Individuals will continue to embrace technology to proactively manage their health, while health institutions will look for new ways to increase quality and improve patient outcomes using advanced technology.
Here are four examples of proven technological innovations that will fundamentally change how healthcare organizations operate and provide care going forward:
Data Analytics – The healthcare industry is awash in data. With the sheer volume of information that patients and institutions produce, big data is one of the most significant tools in maintaining the health of individuals and anticipating potential health conditions in patients. Once collected, big data can be converted into valuable insights using data analytics.
The intelligence gleaned from all of this data can address critical conditions or prevent potential health emergencies. And this can be applied in the entire healthcare spectrum, from hospital to home. For example, Cinq helped to develop an app that allows diabetics to control blood glucose levels. This digital tool helps people with diabetes to carry out daily monitoring of their glucose intake, dose management, and insulin administration.
These smart medical IoT devices easily connect to the patient’s smartphone. They collect and transfer essential information such as heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar levels, proactively alerting individuals and providers for potential hypoglycemic triggers or critical events.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI is playing a big role in healthcare. The remarkable speed with which COVID-19 vaccines were developed are a clear example of how machine learning is playing a larger role in Life Sciences. Pfizer was able to deploy dashboards using AI to extract insights from vast amounts of data as part of its vaccine development process.
In the caregiver space, AI can provide healthcare organizations with great opportunities to analyze massive amounts of data with precision and help to make better diagnoses, recommend treatment paths, generate actionable patient insights, or solve logistical challenges. AI in healthcare imaging, oncology, and population health are growing as well. Adopting use cases from other industries are also opening doors for more AI applications in healthcare.
For example, verification software using AI and biometrics technology can be adopted for a touchless environment and patient verification that can be seamlessly integrated with the Electronic Health Records (EHR). AI is opening a new era in healthcare, helping industry and caregivers to discover new ways of treatment, improve healthcare workflows, and save lives.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – One of the key lessons learned from the pandemic is the importance of sharing data. The industry is now taking data sharing to the next level, implementing new interoperability standards as part of the 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016.
The new rules are meant to give consumers free electronic access to their medical data and enable different information systems, devices, and applications to access and transfer patient data. When combined with RPA, an application of technology that automates mundane business tasks, interoperability can improve the quality and efficiency of care and give patients more control over their own health.
We worked with a leading mobile healthcare app to transform the application’s backend and ensure its integration with EHR. This development relied on RPA to verify prior authorizations, enabling a seamless process for patients and significantly reducing the administrative burdens on provider teams.
Telehealth and sensory devices. Virtual doctor visits became a critical lifeline for millions of patients over the past year, and telehealth visits are expected to continue to increase.
The Philips Future Health Index 2021 report found that nearly two in three healthcare leaders are prioritizing investments in telehealth, and a staggering 89% of U.S. healthcare leaders said they are currently heavily investing in telehealth. Telehealth technology is advancing even further in home healthcare with the addition of new sensory devices that provide physicians with detailed patient medical information for the virtual visit.
The healthcare industry has taken major leaps forward in using technology to create a more seamless and effective healthcare experience for patients and providers. The industry will continue to adopt and expand connected health applications and tools to meet the demand for digital services. Consumers have already shifted toward a more digital lifestyle, and healthcare organizations need to meet their growing expectations for a technology-based healthcare system.