Healthcare innovation relies on expanding base knowledge as it improves technology designed to provide specific solutions in the healthcare field.
Add to the many challenges facing healthcare and coming out of a once-in-a-century pandemic that disrupted every country and society. Innovative solutions forged out of necessity have become commonplace.
Massive public and private investment in healthcare technology will improve health equity worldwide. Think of health equity as defined by the World Health Organization. They define health equity as “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remedial differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.”
Healthcare can be more accessible and affordable through these tech improvements.
The front runner in making healthcare more equitable is the inclusion of telehealth as a standard form of healthcare visit. Before 2019, telehealth usage was thought to be around 840,000 patients, but due to the social distancing and stay-at-home orders in 2020, that number has grown to over 52 million.
While the impetus of the dramatic change to telehealth may have been born out of the necessity brought about by the pandemic, telehealth’s advantages have become commonplace industry-wide. The advantage of telehealth is that it empowers the patient, especially those in need.
Telehealth benefits people that lacked health insurance prior had transportation issues or even the cost of taking time off from work and losing the most labor. It also helped overworked office staff and stressed doctors to see more patients easier and quicker.
The COVID-19 pandemic jumpstarted digital health innovations accelerating the adoption of new technologies. Daniel Kivatinos, co-president and co-founder of DrChrono, an EverCommerce solution that is developing an essential platform and services for modern medical practices, shares his healthcare technology trends and predictions for 2022.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will become more common inpatient monitoring. As patients are seeking more remote medical care, IoT and wearables that can stream data to the provider and care team, this new breakthrough will allow the providers to get paid for remote monitoring but also enable patients to keep track of their own data. One simple example is an Internet connected weight scale at home, it will make a patient accountable and allow the provider to also track the patients progress.
Telehealth. Like last year, we are going to see more and more adoption of telehealth among patients and other specialties in 2022. Physicians, medical practices, urgent care clinics and care teams are turning to more virtual healthcare experiences. An Updox survey reported that 51 percent of respondents say that they would continue using telehealth services after the pandemic has ended because they like the convenience it offers.
Furthermore, a recent report from McKinsey indicates that “telehealth use increased 38X from the pre-COVID-19 baseline” further supporting that telehealth is here to stay. Daniel added, “Telehealth will become the norm in healthcare. I foresee it might even overtake normal in person visits in specific areas like mental health and physical remote therapy.”
Telehealth is the provision of healthcare via digital information and communication technologies. Most often employed via computers, tablets and smartphones, telehealth also includes an emerging range of health products such as remote monitoring devices, digital biomarkers and wearable technology.
While telehealth adoption had been growing steadily over the last decade, its role in facilitating care during the COVID-19 pandemic cemented its place as an essential healthcare delivery channel.
While telehealth is presently most often employed through video consultations between patient and provider, it encompasses a broad array of clinical and nonclinical uses such as:
Aggregate patient data
Prescription management and adherence
This list is only a small selection of the current ways in which telehealth is deployed. Over the next few years, we’ll continue to see the scope of telemedicine expand into new arenas while growing even more capable in current fields like:
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.
From a senior care perspective, we are starting to see many senior living communities shift their focus towards putting technology first. In fact, the shift over the last three years is exponentially more than all the progress from the last ten years combined.
As we continue to see an increase in the implementation of technology, we’ll also see residents’ quality of life improve because we are enabling them to age in place longer and remain in their preferred care setting.
In actuality, technological advancements and innovation are more likely to come to the senior living industry over any other care setting. Since these types of facilities are largely privately funded, senior living facilities are more likely to adopt these new innovations over those organizations that are funded by the government.
Overall, technology is starting to be more widely implemented to improve senior care by managing resident data more efficiently, all with a primary focus of helping our seniors to maintain the independence, health, and general wellness.
We have officially entered into a New Normal and technology overall will continue to play a larger role within the senior living space. Mobile technology will be even more critical and engaging family in care through the use of family engagement solutions will become foundational.
Leveraging an EHR as an underlying platform to improve overall care quality allows care providers to truly see resident needs and find creative ways to address them.
By taking a comprehensive approach to an EHR, providers in the senior living space can gain insight into the community’s key operating metrics, then adapt and adjust accordingly by regularly tracking clinical outcomes, staffing, and quality indicators.
From a data perspective, more and more senior living communities are recognizing the importance of interoperability. Data being collected shouldn’t just tell us where we are at, it should tell us where we are going by helping us predict potential issues before they happen.
With every technological advancement, we’re working toward a mostly digitized healthcare system. And, if the current results are anything to go by, the future is bound to be an exciting one. That said, though, we’ve still got a long way to go.
Healthcare is slowly embracing AI and other technologies to improve services to clients. Six out of 10 healthcare companies already use some form of internet of things (IoT).
We could do better when it comes to incorporating AI, but at least we’re making some progress. In this post, we’ll look at how higher levels of digitization will improve the healthcare industry.
More Digitization Means More Personalized Service
It seems paradoxical, but our current drive toward better efficiency has ignored the human aspect. Doctors today receive a lot of information, most of it digital. Their concern is that by needing to analyze these reams of data, they’ve got less time to deal with their patients.
Digital measurement standards being applied often leave doctors frustrated. They feel that they have to work toward standards that have little relation to the overall quality of work.
Artificial intelligence could change that. Not only can AI speed the diagnosis of conditions, but it can also provide a more rounded analysis of a doctor’s performance. AI can assess a range of factors quickly and easily.
Using AI can make it possible to assess how rules affect doctors at the ground level properly. That could lead to more rules that make sense once implemented, which, in turn, could lead to the scrapping of onerous regulations that get in the way of successful patient outcomes.
Digitization Can Fill Healthcare Data Gaps
If we look at the way that healthcare systems collect data, we see huge gaps. Most of the time, data is only collected when patients interact with the system. That is when they’re ill and need to see a doctor. This leads to a system of reactive treatments.
A genuinely useful healthcare system, though, should be able to predict potential health risks, give patients advice on how to manage those risks, and to collect as much data as possible when the person is feeling well.
We’ve had a range of monitoring tools for some years now. Fitbits, home blood pressure checkers, daily blood glucose monitoring kits are all examples of monitoring tools most of us have access to. Many of these tools can now be connected online. That leaves us with a wide range of options that can give our healthcare system a far more complete picture of our health.
Your Fitbit, for example, logs how many steps you walk on any given day. Your blood pressure kit can point out times when your blood pressure is particularly high.
Information that the machines can’t provide, such as how much food you ate, or how you’re feeling, could be entered into an app built for the purpose.
Hospitals and healthcare systems are benefitting from unprecedented innovation in information technology, helping improve everything from facility operations to patient care. But with these advancements come massive amounts of data—clinical research, digital imaging, and other patient data—that are taxing IT’s ability to cost-effectively manage and store in way that is secure, compliant, and always accessible.
Between the introduction of smart connected medical devices, plummeting costs of genome sequencing, and increasingly higher-resolution medical imaging, we are generating a wealth of information that is too expensive to store, yet too valuable—and, in many cases, unlawful—to throw away. Analysts from IDC predict that healthcare data will reach 2.3 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020. Imagine the discoveries that await, if only there was an affordable way to store it all.
Connected Medical Devices Mean Better Care, nd More Data To Store
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, within the next three years, 40% of the projected $117 billion IoT industry will be related to healthcare. The IoMT will generate exabytes of additional data, a portion of which compliance regulations will mandate you save. But what if we could store it all? What breakthroughs await when the power of analytics and machine learning are unleashed on vast archives of medical data?
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
Real-time diagnostic data from connected medical equipment and home-health wearables promises to revolutionize medicine. Patients with long-term or chronic conditions can be monitored from the comfort of their homes. Instant access to information will speed diagnoses and response times. But perhaps the greatest potential of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) lies in the ability to save and analyze all the data these interconnected devices will generate over time.
Medical Imaging and Records
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are drowning in data as highly sensitive cameras, light wave and electron microscopy, and new modalities like 3D mammography and ultrasonic holography produce higher resolutions and larger file sizes. Many organizations adopt a “save everything” approach to ensure compliance with complicated regulations. To mitigate the high cost of storing all this data, complicated storage tiers and data lifecycle management solutions are implemented. But trying to figure out what doctors and researchers need access to on a regular basis and what can safely go into cold storage makes these complicated tiering strategies even more complex … and expensive.
We tend to have a negative view of risk, regarding it as a danger to the business. But, it also presents opportunities to push boundaries. If we reframe risk as a change-maker, then what degree of risk is acceptable? The healthcare industry faces this conundrum at every turn. Whether testing a toxic chemotherapy drug that could be lifesaving, or adopting IoT devices that provide detailed analytics, these advances can all expand the threat landscape.
Unlike testing pharmaceuticals in a controlled lab setting, the world of cyber and its risks are in constant flux. Healthcare data is at the top of cybercriminals’ lists, contributing to a record amount of breached health records in the past year. Full patient medical records are a valuable commodity on the dark web and?sell for up to $1,000?each.
Now, healthcare organizations can’t stay stagnant in implementing protections.
The reality of highly-regulated industries is that compliance mandates tend to govern security operations. But where regulations are cut and dry, risks do not fit neatly into boxes of “high risk” and “low risk.” Instead, risk is on a spectrum that requires a holistic cybersecurity strategy to appropriately prioritize and mitigate risk according to what is deemed as acceptable.
To help healthcare organizations mature security policies and become more comfortable with risk, here are three recommendations for 2020 cybersecurity planning:
Imagine for a second: you’re walking through the busy halls of your local hospital, only to notice that the doctors and nurses around you are constantly checking their phones and tablets. It strikes you as odd, and you can’t help but think: Isn’t anyone getting any work done around here?
Actually, they are.
With over 70 percent of examined patients using at least one health app to manage their diagnosed condition, and more than 318,000 mobile healthcare apps available in top app stores worldwide, the picture of doctors and nurses relying on their devices as literal “mobile assistants” is becoming a highly sought-after reality.
While this perspective is often bolstered by positive reviews of hand-held computer use by healthcare professionals – where digital assistant devices improved physician effectiveness during patient documentation, patient care, information seeking and professional work patterns — the mHealth industry still has a lot of room to grow in terms of digital health infrastructure.
Not to be put off, mHealth developers have nevertheless continued to advance their compliance, security, accessibility, and efficiency practices in the face of wide-scale transformative change. And when asked, most mHealth developers (myself included) will tell you that what motivates us to keep going has to do with the massive potential these technologies have to literally transform the field of medicine as we know it.
And what exactly is thatpotential? Every day our news feeds are inundated with articles promoting the latest in mHealth technology – from mobile apps that can perform an ultrasound, to apps that help patients track their own symptoms – so it can be hard to navigate the ever-widening world of mobile healthcare.
In light of such a big subject then, I’ve often taken to cementing my own understanding of mobile health by thinking about the ways in which these applications are already affecting physicians, clinicians, and other practitioners at every stage of their medical career.
Put differently, from the time that an aspiring healthcare professional begins their educational journey, to their first-accepted payment for needed treatment, mobile health apps are helping doctors transform the field of medicine before our very eyes. Here’s how:
In a lot of our popular media, physician education is represented as an arduous journey from beginning to end. With long nights studying, cadavers to examine, and an infinite amount of medical information to digest, med students are flocking to (mobile) medical education applications that can help them test their own knowledge in a way that suits their learning style.
It began in the 1980s with those wonderful word processors. Electric typewriters bit the dust, and health records could be entered and saved on floppy discs. This was only the beginning.
We’ve come along way, baby. As technology came to disrupt every sector of the economy, healthcare was no exception. Consider all that has happened in this sector and where we are today.
Consolidated health records in the cloud
Anyone who has been to a doctor recently understands this. That doctor may have your entire health history, from multiple providers, all in one place. This technology allows any provider to provide better care protocols according to each individual’s unique history and make recommendations for testing, etc. that will not be duplicating those already done.
Patients can also access their full health histories and provide access to family members as well. This allows more control of patients over their own healthcare and allows them to make better decisions for future care.
Use of big data for treatment protocol decisions
Now that providers have access to health data from all over the globe, they can review research studies, identify effectiveness based on specific symptoms, DNA makeups, and more. The net effect is this: research from all over the world is now available through tools that gather data, churn it, categorize it, and provide reports based on specific queries. Ultimately, better care for all can occur because of this shared data. Amy Castello, a healthcare writer for Trust My Paper, says this: “I conduct a lot of research on a number of healthcare topics. One of the most interesting is the strides that have been made in the use of big data. I see a future of customized care solutions that
Use of AI and machine learning to identify and predict disease outbreaks
When artificial intelligence is applied to bag data gathering, environmental conditions can be analyzed for their contributions to disease outbreaks. Likewise, when there are higher than average disease conditions among certain demographics or in certain geographical areas, AI can analyze data and report common characteristics that may be contributing to those outbreaks.
Development of vaccines
Every year, a number of medical reporting organizations isolate the specific viruses that have resulted in flu outbreaks. All of this information is then physically reported during a consolidated meeting, and decisions are made for the next vaccine composition. Now, all of the data can be digitally reported, and the recommended vaccine compositions determined by the use of artificial intelligence. Ultimately, this can serve to reduce some of the human “guesswork” that now occurs.
A decade ago, patients had to travel to their doctors’ offices for regular checks on chronic conditions. Now, wearable devices provide ongoing data electronically, so that patients are monitored from home, with alerts to their doctors when conditions change that they might warrant an office visit or hospitalization. Getting real-time data of this sort not only increase efficiency of care but results in lower costs for both providers and patients.