Thanks to the advent of technologies, we can witness irreversible changes in our daily life today. It is now easier to cope with our everyday routine because we have smart solutions that speed up the pace of our life and make it more convenient.
Healthcare is where technologies are expected to revolutionize treatment and research methods we are used to so much. Hence, we have prepared some technological trends that will make healthcare more advanced in 2019.
The Internet of Medical Things
The notion of The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is tightly connected with wearables. This technology is designed to transmit the patient’s data through various sensors and gadgets attached to the patient’s clothes or directly to their body. Fitness trackers and smart sensors are specifically elaborated to measure blood pressure, glucose level, pulse, heart rate, etc. Along with that, you can count calories you’ve burned, and miles walked.
Well, it doesn’t sound that innovative in 2019. But what makes it one of the most progressive trends is that the gathered data can be used in many various and innovative ways. For example, preventive medicine can benefit a lot with the help of IoMT. Research gets more accurate and timely, and it is even possible to prevent epidemics using the stats gathered in this way.
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Well … yes, consulting a doctor through your telly looks like a scene from one of those futuristic novels showing what the world would look like in the 21st century. In fact, it is what we have now. Modern technologies allow us to forget about hours spent in a clinic waiting for your doctor to invite you. That also includes waiting for the results of your tests.
Now you can consult any doctor in the world having a computer and an Internet connection. Imagine that you needed to see a reputable specialist in another country. It would be highly inconvenient to go all the way there just for a consultation. Firstly, you’d have to spend a lot of time. Secondly, you might need help to move around. And finally, it would be costly.
Today, you can contact your doctor from any spot in the world and get their consultation. It will not work in emergency cases, but it can work well if you need help with urgent but small issues. This is a good possibility for those who reside in far rural areas or require a highly specialized doctor to receive timely medical assistance.
The technology can also allow people to get consulted more frequently, which will improve the overall health of the population and establish better relations with doctors.
By Ben Flock, chief healthcare strategist, TEKsystems.
Healthcare professionals know that blockchain is coming, but there is still some apprehension associated with the technology. The cryptocurrency industry first pioneered this technology and its results have been highly impressive. But when it comes to the healthcare industry, there is a lack of proven use cases, leading to a delay in blockchain’s widespread adoption.
To pull back the curtain on the reluctance to adopt blockchain technology, TEKsystems partnered with HIMSS Analytics to host a focus group of business and technology leaders from the payer, provider, pharma and public sector. The goal: to better understand customer needs and business challenges when it comes to actually implementing blockchain.
Findings revealed that, as most in the industry already know or suspect, there is a limited overall understanding of blockchain technology. However, it seems that this limited knowledge is the foundation for most of the apprehension toward widely adopting the technology. Additional roadblocks that contribute to this apprehension include the lack of impactful use cases, fears of what the unspecified governance of data could mean for compliance, security concerns and industry politics, among others.
There is good news—those who have a basic understanding of blockchain exhibit less apprehension and a more cautious exuberance toward adoption of the technology. As understanding of blockchain grows and more practical examples of its benefits are found, the healthcare industry will become more open to implementing blockchain solutions.
During the focus group, participants discussed proven use cases for blockchain that could be used as industry examples to help increase the general understanding of blockchain technology. The group identified three main use cases that could be implemented in the near term after a short testing period: provider directory updates, expediting the provider credentialing process and prior authorization.
A provider directory was the first use case identified by the focus group. Insurance companies must provide patients with timely, accurate provider contact information and new patient availability. While Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulate provider directory services, many of them are inefficient, costly and often laden with manual processes. With blockchain, the provider ledger could be maintained through a proactive, structured, perpetual process enabling open and direct access to provider information on an as-needed basis. Because provider directory information is already public record, it’s a high-result, low-risk proof-of-concept project.
Technology is the new creed that has literally touched almost every aspect of our life. Be it communication, traveling, or exercising, we are always interacting with technology. However, healthcare has always been considered a very conservative area in terms of technology deployment. This is because, in its very nature, healthcare mainly deals with human life which calls for utmost precaution. But the emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence has sparked innovation and a myriad of solutions that are already working in the healthcare industry.
At the forefront of this growth are Android-powered smartphone devices. It’s estimated that 88 percent of all the devices sold in the last quarter of 2018 were all powered by Android. It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that companies are looking to hire Android developers to build health-care related apps.
But what does the future hold for tech solutions in the health industry? In this article, we are going to look at the trends in healthcare to look out for in 2019 and a few examples of apps for healthcare.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are getting increasingly sophisticated to the extent of surpassing human capability and the potential for these two technologies in the healthcare ecosystem are huge.
One of the biggest potential benefits of AI in 2019 is helping people to stay healthy without consulting a doctor, or at least do it less often. Coupled with the Internet of Medical Things (IoT), AI is already being used to develop consumer health apps that proactively show patients how to stay healthy.
Moreover, AI is increasingly being used by healthcare professionals to gain deep insights and better understand of routine patterns occurring in patients. With these deeper insights, the caregivers are able to give better diagnosis, guidance, and support to the patients. For instance, the American Cancer Society is already using AI to detect cancer at the initial stages with 99 percent accuracy.
Product development is another area that AI and machine learning are being used. R&D in the medical field can be painstakingly slow and costly given that hundreds of variables need to interact with each other. Today, medical researchers are using AI to safely explore biological and chemical interactions of drugs using the discovery process and clinical data.
Another area you can get artificial intelligence in healthcare is through workflow optimization. It helps automate repetitive tasks such as routine paperwork, patient scheduling, and time-folio entry.
Wearables and Augmented Reality
I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.” — Tim Cook at the 2016 Utah Tech Tour – source.
Virtual wearables and augmented reality devices are other emerging healthcare trends proposing to make significant advances in the healthcare space in terms of diagnosis and medical education.
On one side of the scale, virtual reality superimposes a patient in an artificially created surrounding, whereas, augmented reality helps generate layered images to real like objects. As a result, these technologies are and will continue being used by emergency response services providers to relay critical first aid information before the first responders arrive at the hospital.
In the prevention and diagnostics front, VR/AR has allowed medical care providers to create and manipulate different camera colors to reflect or replicate pre-existing effects in their databases.
But perhaps, the biggest impact of VR can be seen in 3D reconstructions of human organs. This has proven important especially when surgeons need to re-create the exact size and positioning of human organs before conducting complicated surgeries. Having the same exact replica of human organs give surgeons the know-how on how to deal with particular organs no matter how small they are.
In terms of medical education, both VW and AR have been great tools in transforming the way students learn. Surgeons are able to rehearse surgery procedures using dummies quicker and without having to use actual human bodies.
The internet age has brought along profound changes in the telemedicine landscape. In the earlier years, telemedicine was strictly limited to doctor and nurse consultation. However, the proliferation of smart mobile devices that are capable of transmitting high-quality videos has opened up avenues for virtual healthcare services from specialists to patients straight in their homes. This is especially paramount in remote areas where doctors can’t easily reach.
Much has been written about the prospect of using blockchain technology as a key component of achieving EHR interoperability. It has been widely reported that 55 percent of surveyed hospitals indicated a desire to initiate some sort of blockchain program within the next two years.
However, as with many game-changing approaches, the devil is in the details. Blockchain technology presents a huge challenge when it comes to impact on the data center–whether that data center is on premises, in the cloud or a hybrid cloud configuration. The tsunami of data added to the already overwhelming amount of required information could swamp a healthcare organization. In addition, the performance decline from this mass of information may negate the positive aspects of using blockchain for EHR interoperability.
Let’s first look at the positives. Defined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), interoperability under the health information technology arm includes three specific functions. First, it involves the secure exchange of electronic health information without special user effort. Second, it “allows for complete access, exchange, and use of all electronically accessible health information for authorized use under applicable state or federal law.” Third, it prohibits specific information blocking, the act of “knowingly and unreasonably” interfering with the exchange and use of electronic health information. If implemented properly, blockchain can meet these requirements exceptionally well.
Now for the challenge. Blockchain is slow. In the most recently available study, the Bitcoin network — the largest and most widely tested application of blockchain technology — achieved maximum throughput nearly 50 times slower than PayPal and 14,000 times slower than VisaNet. If blockchain-based applications come in on top of the already staggering load of data handling required of IT in the healthcare sector today, the danger of major system slowdowns, and even system crashes, will increase dramatically. In the healthcare environment, these IT disasters could have life-or-death consequences.
By Pratik Kirve, writer, blogger, and content writer, Allied Analytics.
Healthcare providers have been considering data confidentiality more than ever. It has become a part of patient experience as the implementation of biometric technology to safeguard patient information adds a layer of trust and confidence. As the popularity of biometric authentication increases among smartphone users, healthcare providers have been utilizing it for various processes, especially security. According to the cybersecurity survey by HIMSS, there has been a significant improvement in awareness regarding cybersecurity among healthcare organizations.
More funding has been allocated to IT departments and the advantage of an increasing number of healthcare-specific solutions have been taken. Though the survey spotted many flaws in the implementation of security measures such as usage of outdated tech in the networks, the awareness, and implementation of security shows organizations have taken patient data security seriously. The survey found that hackers have begun security breaches and organizations need to put better vigilance over the patient data and information.
Various measures have been taken by market players and tech giants to ensure the security of data. Fingerprint reading technology has been released to improve security and offer controlled access. Market players have been collaborating to enable better security through integration of iris biometric information with blockchain network. The industry for healthcare biometrics is booming. According to the research firm Allied Market Research, the global healthcare biometrics market is expected to grow at a considerable CAGR through 2023. Following are some of the activities taking place in the industry:
The megalithic healthcare conference, HIMSS19, has come and has gone from the vast former swampland of central Florida. While I’m a relative newcomer to the show’s trajectory – I’ve been to four of the annual tradeshows since 2011 – this year’s version was, for me, the most rewarding and complete of them all. This could be for one of several reasons. Perhaps because I no longer represent a vendor so sitting in the exhibit hall in a 30×30 booth with a fake smile wondering when the day’s tedium would end and the night’s socials would begin may impact my rosy outlook.
Or, maybe I was simply content to engage in the totality of the experience, attend some quality sessions, meet with many high-class people and discuss so-called news of the day/week/year. Doing so felt, well, almost like coming home. Or, perhaps my experience at the conference this year was so good because of running into former colleagues and acquaintances that drove me to such a place of contentment while there. No matter the reason, I enjoyed every minute of my time at the event.
Something else felt right. An energy – a vibe – something good, even great, seems/ed about to happen. Something important taking place in Orlando, and I was blessed to be a part of it. Kicking off the week, CMS created news – like it does every year at about this time – with its announcement that it will no longer allow health systems and providers to block patients from their data. This was a shot across the bow of interoperability and the industry’s lack of effort despite its constant gibberish and lip service to the topic.
Another fascinating thing that finally occurred to me: no matter the current buzzword, every vendor has a solution that’s perfect for said buzzword. Be it “patient engagement,” “interoperability,” “artificial intelligence,” “blockchain”; whatever the main talking point, every organization on the exhibit floor has an answer.
But, no one seems to have any real answers.
For example, after nearly a decade, we still don’t have an industry standard for interoperability. Patient engagement was once about getting people to use patient portals for, well, whatever. Then it was apps and device-driven technologies. We’re now somewhere in between all of these things.
AI? Well, hell. It’s either about mankind engineering the damnedest algorithms to automate the hell out of everything in the care setting (an over exaggeration) or that AI/machine learning will lead to the rise of machines, which will help care for and cure people – before ultimately turning on us and killing or enslaving us all (again, I’m overly exaggerating).
I hope healthcare organizations delivered lots of TUMS and Advil to their beleaguered cybersecurity teams as a holiday bonus in 2018 – and maybe even a masseuse! With an overload of alerts, attacks and system compromises, it’s safe to say that working in a security operations center (SOC) can take both a mental and physical toll:
From 2010 to 2017, nearly 2,150 breaches involving more than 176 million patient records were reported to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). During this period, the total number of breaches increased every year (except for 2015), with 199 reported in 2010 and 344 reported in 2017.
Health Wizz is an electronic file cabinet for your health records on your smartphone. We help provide the tools to help people aggregate their medical records, organize them, and format them so that they can be shared easily, seamlessly and securely on a blockchain, such as Ethereum.
It’s our body, it’s our data. Health Wizz is a secure mobile platform that provides consumers with the necessary tools for aggregating, organizing and sharing their medical health records with other family members or caregivers, as necessary, over the blockchain.
The idea to take on the big health industry interoperability problem came to Raj Sharma, Health Wizz CEO, when he was sitting in the emergency room, helplessly watching his mother undergo yet another series of unnecessary, duplicative medical tests. This was even more painful as she had already done all those tests just a day before, at the first Emergency Room, where she was admitted after a fall. Because of interoperability issues that plague the healthcare industry, the tests could not be obtained in time for her second ER visit. As Raj sat watching his mother, exhausted and annoyed with all of the time and money wasted, he thought that if he had the healthcare data in a secure, portable format, it would have saved time and money, while ensuring better, timelier care. With this idea, he and his two co-founders Sirish Bajpai (CTO) and Dr. Nitin Desai (chief medical officer), founded Health Wizz.
The blockchain is a ledger, a database that keeps everything in one place and cannot be changed without leaving a mark in the ledger in the event of information changing. According to Jacob Kostecki of Blockhead Factor, blockchain makes it perfect for the recording of both research and treatment information, as well as medical histories. “Right now information is siloed and because people know that a lot of the information contained in medical records is false, there is a lack of trust that causes delays in diagnosing and treating patients,” Kostecki said. “In a blockchain-enabled world, patients will hold their whole medical histories in a wallet — from birth to where they are now in life. These EHRs will include medical records, procedures and everything else.”
When a patient visits a doctor he or she will have access to the patient’s full records instantaneously, making diagnosing cancer, for example, much easier. But blockchains mean more to healthcare than providing assistance at the point of care. Blockchain securely shares health data, standardizes formatting and improves healthcare transactions overall. Its impact can affect every major participant in the care cycle, from patient and provider to payer, pharma and even researchers and federal regulators.
It’s not a stretch to say that blockchain is everywhere in healthcare. Its application to healthcare has not reached its full potential, but the results may be profound as it comes of age, according to industry insiders. To better understand blockchain, we asked some insiders – technology experts, investors, professors, vendor reps and physicians – about what the technology may mean to the future of healthcare.
This digital age belongs to the consumer, and in this age of the consumer, it’s imperative that businesses are consumer-centric. All services and products must revolve around the customer instead of the organization providing or delivering them. Digitization can enable this by unifying data sources and connecting processes. However, when it comes to industries such as healthcare, which deal with sensitive data, there is an evident challenge of data security.
Blockchain, a technology which rose from the hype of cryptocurrency, can address this challenge with its ability to provide secure path for data transactions. Applications of blockchain in healthcare are more real than ever before, today, owing to the changed mindset of the industry leaders and evolution of the blockchain technology itself.