From robotic surgery to telehealth, digital advances are driving innovation in all areas of healthcare, a trend that can be expected to accelerate during and after this era of pandemic-caused isolation.
We see dramatic changes in these areas: (1) Sensors and wearables; (2) Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality; (3), 3D printing; (4) AI driving analytics, automation, and robotics and; (5) The rise of chatbot. In fact, we are already experiencing the impact of the coronavirus isolation in some areas, such as telehealth and 3D printing.
On the grand scale, robots have been proven to be more precise than surgeons and AI can diagnose cancers with a success rate of 99%. In 2020 cost pressures –compounded by the coronavirus initiative- and regulatory change will act as the major catalysts for digital health treatments, which have a crucial role to play in delivering effective, fast, and cost-efficient patient care.
For instance, the pandemic isolation combined with digital health advances are helping shift care to be based around people’s homes.
Local care is not just more convenient and less stressful for patients, it also makes financial sense, when you consider the average hospital stay in the US is upwards of $10,000, totaling over $1 trillion annually in hospital services, and that 60 percent of all bankruptcies in the US are related to medical expenses.
The transformation of traditional value systems in healthcare will continue to accelerate as patients increasingly become better-informed health “consumers”. Thanks to digital, the “value pool” is shifting in this industry, resulting in cost savings for patients thanks to better system efficiency. 2020 will also see the introduction of standalone 5G, which will enable the adoption of an almost limitless number of applications involving AI, big data and the IoT. Many healthcare-related high-bandwidth projects will be set free by 5G’s connectivity, bringing therapies from within hospitals into the field.
Dental health has always been an important aspect of your overall well-being. While most people may perceive dentistry as a means to improve one’s aesthetic, this is but an extra perk of visiting your dentist regularly. There are a wide variety of diseases and they all function the same way —through infection.
When a pathogen is able to gain ingress into your body that is called an infection. And one of the means of ingress are the teeth. A tooth cavity or an abscess are both dangerous in the sense that they are infections waiting to happen.
In the digital age, daily life is enhanced by the technology that we have. For one instance, traditional X-ray images had to be printed on a metal sheet and processed the way you would a camera film. Today, thanks to digital photography, the image is instantly projected onto monitors and saved to a database. There’s no longer the waiting phase. It goes straight to the diagnosis phase.
In previous iterations of the technology, the way that orthodontic diagnostics were performed was that dentists had to make a temporary mold of the patient’s crown (to be replaced) while the permanent mold of the crown would be made back at the lab.
Because of digital photography and 3D printing, dentists simply have to scan the crown that they intend to replace and add it to the database. The computer then simply prints out the replacement crown on the spot.
And while this technology seems impressive, there has been one piece of tech that has been on everyone’s lips for the past few months — artificial intelligence.
It first became publicly known when Google introduced it with its new line of Pixel phones. The artificial intelligence found in these phones was able to significantly improve the photo quality taken by the phone camera. A plethora of phone manufacturers, such as Asus, Huawei, and Oppo, followed suit thereafter.
What most people don’t know is that in the medical field, AI is currently being used to make the process of diagnosis more efficient and more accurate. IBM brought its Watson platform into the picture and it is currently used to help doctors make the best diagnosis and recommend treatment based on the patient’s medical history.
The software is even being further developed for it to be able to schedule medical procedures based on its estimated procedure durations. What this does is that it helps improve the efficiency at which hospitals operate by ensuring that time is used in the best way possible. So, this translates to an overall higher number of patients treated.
The same application can be brought into dentistry. A program known as VisualDX allows dentists and doctors alike to input images onto a computer. The computer is then able to produce a full list of all possible diagnoses.
Your skin says it all, as every wrinkle, sunspot, and color has a meaning behind it. In fact, this miraculous organ can display signs of illness and disease without any prior symptoms. For example, individuals with pale skin are found to have fewer red blood cells, while patients with hepatitis have yellowish skin. According to the Cancer Research UK, 15,419 new skin cancer cases were diagnosed in 2014. The study also revealed that the rise in skin cancer rates increased 128 percent since the early 1990s.
Thanks to digital technology, dermatologists will be able to treat and diagnose skin disease more effectively now than ever before. Smart algorithms will be able to diagnose skin cancer within minutes, 3D printers will produce synthetic skin to fight organ shortages, dermatologists will consult patients online, and more. Check out some of the new technologies that will change the future of dermatology.
Teledermatology For Immediate Response
No one enjoys spending hours in the clinic waiting for results. Thanks to the latest model of consultation – teledermatology – patients can use their smartphones, share files, and improve the way dermatologists diagnose skin conditions. According to the Telemedicine and eHealth Journal, studies show teledermatology can shorten waiting times and reduce the cost of medical bills. With this advanced technique, patients can upload photos of their skin problem, where dermatologists can offer assistance.
Fight Cancer with Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology has proven to be useful in cosmetic dermatology as nanoparticles are increasingly found in anti-aging products and UV-light absorbing sunscreens. When illuminated with a specific wavelength of light, the nanoshells will heat up and burn cancer cells effectively. When developed carefully, nanomaterials will have the ability to apply antioxidants, retinoids, and drugs such as growth rejuvenation and botulinum toxin topically in the future.
The healthcare sector is hopeful for the future, as innovations in the IT sector will continue to provide opportunities to improve the deliverability of crucial services. One thing’s for sure, more and more companies will continue to realize just how big of an impact HITs can bring, and the situation alone is urging companies to invest more on new software and technologies — even as these innovations are still in the works.
Several key innovations in this area, such as 3D printing and artificial organs, are still being tested and developed. It would take time before these breakthroughs can penetrate the market. What’s important, meanwhile, is the fact that AI will continue to drive technological adoption in the healthcare industry.
As technological tools have become increasingly sophisticated, the demands for these tools are also becoming more complex. Still, organizations are in the right when they invest a huge bulk of their resources in AI-based solutions. Apparently, they know all too well that these products are capable of improving the delivery of care and other services.
They help healthcare providers to thrive
End users will certainly reap the benefits that AI entails. If anything, effective software and IT products are being sought by businesses that want to get the most out of their investments. Analytics plays an important role in maintaining the efficiency of an organization, whether it involves using organizational psychology to retain productive employees or managing the workflow of hospital staff.
One thing that makes HITs relevant is the fact that they lighten the workload and that they simplify complex processes. With the use of AI, healthcare organizations can accelerate their services without compromising quality. This would allow healthcare managers to focus on exploring ideas for expanding their bottom lines.
They help in patient outreach
A key trend in HIT is the rise of AI virtual assistants. Doctors normally have their hands full engaging patients with unique histories — considering this, there will always be room for error. This technology can help by automating the way they handle individual cases.
In this case, using automated VAs to organize patient data and notify patients about their appointment schedules and regular medication can ultimately lessen the amount of work doctors will have to handle. As VAs are being developed to become more intelligent and predictive, these innovations will certainly provide ample opportunities to forge stronger patient links.
They make accuracy central
Human error is natural. We are basically prone to make mistakes. But in the healthcare industry, errors can sometimes cost you money or, even worse, a patient’s life.
Indeed, new technologies in the field of diagnostics are helping organizations to identify and analyze diseases more accurately. This, in turn, can help doctors to make the proper prescriptions and suggest the right treatment plans.
Medical innovators can’t come up with ways to implement 3D printing into categories of healthcare fast enough. With so many practical applications, 3D printing is quickly becoming a technology realized for its untapped potential and seemingly limitless possibility to transform healthcare.
3D printing alone has many applications across a wide range of industries — for one example, advancements in health data are benefiting nursing and patient care. As 3D printing continues to be combined with the innovations in health data, it will further revolutionize patient care, lower healthcare costs, expand the field of nursing, and improve modern medicine as we know it. How will 3D printing and health data do this?
Below is an extensive look at how innovations in health data are changing healthcare fields, and how 3D printing will further reform these sectors, allowing for advancements in both medical practice and patient care.
Home healthcare benefits patients who would like personal care in the comfort of their own home. Elderly and disabled patients don’t have to travel to have minor care done, and patients who have such diseases as HIV and are worried about discrimination or bias can have their privacy. Home-based care allows for specialized care for the patient, rehabilitation, and the close monitoring of vital signs for health and wellness, without the trouble of an in-person office visit. This convenient transfer of data through new technology makes it increasingly easier for caregivers, whether it be family members or professionals, to care for patients on their terms.
ASU reports, “75.2 percent of nurses agree that telemedicine makes their job easier.” Telemedicine is another sector of healthcare made possible by the accessibility of telecommunication technologies such as videoconferencing. Through videoconferencing, a professional is able to listen to a patient’s concerns and diagnose illness or injury from a remote location. This gives the patient another level of privacy and both parties freedom and independence. Telemedicine cuts healthcare costs, as a physician doesn’t need to physically travel to a patient every time a minor checkup is needed.
EHRs and CPOEs
Electronic health records, or EHRs, are just that: electronic patient health documents that provide real-time information. Medical history, treatments, and diagnoses can be constantly updated along with other details such as allergies and current medications. An infographic by Duquesne University highlights the increased reliance on EHRs while illustrating patient data in the age of technology.
CPOEs, or computerized provider/physician order entries, are a better way to order medication and control the dosage and frequency at which the medication is administered. This efficient method of ordering pharmaceuticals reduces error and abuse, and therefore diminishes illness and injury. As Scott Rupp writes, CPOEs are “foundational for meaningful use. Make sure it’s easy to use and intuitive.”
Involvement of 3D Printing
In its infant stages, 3D printing is being utilized to make hearing aids, prosthesis, skin for burn victim patients, heart and airway splints, and much more. Showing potential for almost every aspect of healthcare, 3D printing, combined with the innovations in health data above, will transform these fields for even more accessible, affordable, and convenient healthcare.
3D printing can be applied to home health care, telecommunications, EHRs and CPOE in a number of ways. A professional can diagnose the atrophy of a leg, order the rehabilitation of walking, 3D print a prosthetic, and monitor the progress all while a patient is at home. In another instance, home healthcare and telemedicine can diagnose that a patient is ill, EHRs and CPOEs will allow for a better determination of what medication to order, and 3D printing can be used to print the medication for a patient
More accessible healthcare means more easily affordable healthcare, and with the involvement of 3D printing home-based care, telemedicine, EHRs, and CPOEs, healthcare will be transformed and turned on its ear. Patients who desire privacy, or are not mobile, will be able to get the care they need at home, while professionals will be able to stay in the office to help people with more immediate and urgent matters.
As mentioned above, 3D printing is in its infancy stages for many of these processes. An argument can be made that 3D printing will make home care, telemedicine, EHRs, and CPOEs more expensive — and that’s true, but only for now. As 3D printing becomes more of a norm in the medical field, and it will with its promising applications, the cost will decrease. As 3D printing becomes a normal process in these fields, it will increase patient care and make healthcare more accessible and more easily affordable.
Guest post by John Barnett, project coordinator at Iflexion.
With evolving requirements for care value and quality, caregivers turn to technology to handle emerging challenges related to patients’ health outcomes, care costs and CMS reporting. Each year, new tech-driven solutions arise to assist providers in complying with changing circumstances.
The upcoming 2017 will be even more interesting technology-wise, since after Donald Trump was elected the new President, it’s now possible to form a very different perspective on healthcare. With this in mind, let’s look into market analysts’ predictions for growing trends to watch next year.
3D imaging, augmented and virtual reality
Currently, MRIs and CT scans allow viewing patients’ body parts, organs and tissues in 3D. 2017 may uplift care delivery by harnessing 3D imaging and improving it with augmented and virtual reality.
Caregivers can adopt 3D imaging for patient education and engagement, as well as for treating mental health disorders, such as phobias and schizophrenia.
Surgeons, physicians and nurses might use 3D and enabled glasses for further education and training – for example, to simulate complex microsurgeries. Augmented reality can be harnessed during live surgeries as well, allowing more precision to locate organs and blood vessels accurately, reducing possible damage to healthy tissue.
For instance, eye and brain surgeries imply working in limited spaces, using high-powered microscopes, and making cuts sometimes smaller than a millimeter (e.g., in retina surgery). 3D cameras can widen the picture and allow the whole team to see the target area. When 3D view is coupled with enabled glasses, this may also reduce surgeons’ fatigue from constantly looking into a microscope and keeping an uncomfortable posture with bowed heads and strained necks.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
While physicians have remarkable capabilities to analyze patients’ symptoms and make deductions, still humans can process quickly only a limited volume of information. This is where technology comes into play to support experience and proficiency.
Particularly, artificial intelligence software development is anticipated to become one of the widespread trends of 2017, with such headliners as IBM, Google, Amazon and many others.
AI encompassing machine learning and big data analytics evolves to make multiple healthcare processes faster and more effective. Some of the examples of future benefits are:
Automated diagnostics based on medical images
Predicted disease progression with chances to develop complications and further admissions / readmissions
Predicted reaction to chemotherapy in cancer patients
Calculated groups of at-risk patients (such as chronic patients with multiple conditions) according to their vitals, heredity, prior diseases, passed procedures and more to enroll them in specialized connected health programs
Predicted care results and patients’ health outcomes according to established treatment plans, allowing to intervene timely and improve care delivery
Many of future solutions will support natural language processing, as big data in healthcare usually comes in big chunks of unstructured information. If surgeons, physicians and nurses are able to input information directly with their voice, this will also reduce time, effort and, ultimately, costs.
Guest post by Cathy Reisenwitz, content specialist, Capterra.
Every year at Capterra we predict the top trends in business technology. Last year we predicted gamification, wearables, telemedicine, mobile medicine, and 3D printing would be the top 5 medical technology trends for 2015.
This year, we expect wearables, telemedicine, and mobile medicine to continue to advance. They’ll be joined by cloud computing, patient portals, and big data.
Telemedicine has come a long way, from remote villagers using bicycle pedal-powered, two-way radios to communicate with the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia to helping recovering stroke patients in rural Minnesota avoid hours-long (and often snowy) drives for follow-up care.
As the technology has improved, the investment has increased. Transparency Market Research valued the global video telemedicine market at $559 million in 2013. Today, they predict it will grow to $1.6 billion by the end of 2020. Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, and telehealth provider MDLive recently expanded their virtual care collaboration to 20 more states in November, bringing the total to 25.
Telemedicine offers tons of value to a large, growing segment of the population: seniors. Telemedicine improves care by getting it to remote patients who live far from hospitals. It also enables homebound patients to get high-quality care. It makes care cheaper, and allows seniors to stay at home longer. It benefits providers by making their jobs more flexible. And it also eliminates picking up new illnesses in a clinical care setting.
In rural Minnesota, nurses check motor skills by asking patients to push, pull and squeeze with their hands and feet. A doctor, located further away from patients, can advise on care onscreen.
Going back to wearables, their mass adoption has made store-and-forward telemedicine much easier. Devices like Fitbits automatically collect valuable health data. Store-and-forward telemedicine just means that data goes to a doctor or medical specialist so they can assess it when they have time. Watch for more EHRs learning to connect with wearables in 2016.
More EHRs will provide patient portals
Patient portals grew in popularity in 2014 and 2015. Twenty-six percent more patients received lab tests via an EHR patient portal between 2013 and 2014. Patients also received 50% more health and disease education through their portals in that time. “Patient engagement through health technology such as patient portals is rapidly increasing,” Craig Kemp, leader of innovative partnerships for Merck Vaccines, told mmm-online.com.
While about half of physicians offer patient portals right now, almost another fifth of them plan to offer one in the next 12 months. In a 2015 survey of more than 11,000 patients, 237 physicians, and nine payer organizations representing 47 million lives, almost a third of patients said they were interested in using a patient portal to engage with their physician, track their medical history, and receive educational materials and patient support. However, almost 40 percent said they’d never heard of a patient portal.
Educating patients on how and why to use portals will be key to getting them to use them in 2016.