The healthcare industry has been experiencing an exponential change in recent times, especially in the past year. The global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of various technologies and innovations that have transformed the industry like never before.
There was been a noticeable shift in the way healthcare services are delivered, with a visible emphasis placed on patient-centric and personalised care.
From helping with timely and more accurate diagnoses to reducing errors during treatments, hospitals and healthcare providers are increasingly integrating digital technologies into their systems to help them provide the best care and service to their patients.
The role of digital technology in transforming the healthcare industry is undeniable and healthcare providers have recognised that those who are slow to adopt these innovative changes will risk being left behind.
Here are some of the technology trends that are changing the healthcare industry:
Digital healthcare management systems
Digital healthcare management systems today can offer multiple advantages to hospital managers, administrators and healthcare providers. Maintaining traditional paper-based records is fraught with challenges and are cumbersome and prone to inefficiencies and errors.
In comparison, digital healthcare management systems can help to create a streamlined, centralised and efficient system that allows for better storage, management and access to patient information from multiple locations.
Managing patient information digitally also provides better security as software can be configured to grant access to only specific people.
A digital management system also allows efficient and timely sharing of patient information across various locations, which is hugely beneficial in cases of emergencies.
Another added benefit of digital healthcare management systems is creating a personalised patient experience. Through centralised information systems, healthcare professionals can effortlessly design personalised medical plans and patient care, thus improving treatments and recovery outcomes; this is particularly useful in outpatient management and care.
With timely insights into a patient’s medical history, through digital systems, healthcare providers can properly guide their patients to lead healthier lifestyles.
The rise of telemedicine
While telephone consultation is the most basic form of telemedicine, recent strides in technology have seen telemedicine becoming a more widely utilised tool for consultations. Due to the pandemic and social distancing protocols, the healthcare sector has seen rapid adoption of digital technology that has enabled ease of access to services. The rise in telemedicine has heralded a new age in healthcare delivery.
In India, while telemedicine is still emerging, it is expected to see a tremendous rise. The Indian government’s ‘Telemedicine Practice Guidelines’ on March 25, 2020, clarified the country’s position on the legality of teleconsultation in the face of the pandemic. Doctors in India can now provide the first consultation to patients located in any state remotely through teleconsultation.
Now, healthcare providers and patients can use telemedicine to consult, personalise and monitor care and recovery remotely, which is especially beneficial to elderly patients and patients with limited mobility.
AI, ML and Automation in healthcare
The use of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Automation in healthcare has tremendous potential to transform the industry and help simplify tasks of healthcare providers and hospital administrators.
Some of the most prominent ways such technology as AI and ML can be leveraged are in the areas of radiology, medical imaging, predictive analytics, and the detection of cancer.
MRI and other advanced imaging systems are now being equipped with ML algorithms that can enhance early cancer detection, while AI-assisted surgeries are a growing trend that brings precision and efficiency into surgical care.
Microsurgical procedures require precision and accuracy; AI-powered tools can assist physicians in reducing variations that could affect patient health and recovery in the longer term.
AI-aided procedures can also compensate for the differences in the skills of physicians in cases of new or difficult surgeries, which may impact the health of the patient or the costs of the procedure.
Therefore, inefficiencies and poor outcomes will be significantly reduced, ultimately leading to better patient care and service delivery. With robots conducting or assisting doctors in surgeries, training costs can be saved, and routine tasks can be automated with precision.
The applications of AI, ML and Automation in healthcare are numerous and will benefit patients and healthcare providers alike.
The rise of Wearable Technologies such as Fitbit, Garmin and the Apple Watch has created a booming market. According to a 2020 report by Fortune Business Insights, the global wearable medical devices market is projected to reach US$ 195 billion by 2027.
Wearable devices such as heart monitors and exercise trackers have been on the rise in recent years and allow for a personalised healthcare experience that gives the patient ownership of their own experience. Also, the data collected from the devices can improve the accuracy of treatment.
Technology giants such as Apple and Samsung have been competing to add more health-tracking features to their wearable devices, including sleep tracking and EKG apps. Apple also recently released “Movement Disorder API” where researchers can gather new insights into Parkinson’s disease.
The technological advances in the wearable devices space and the adoption of healthier lifestyles, combined with the rise of chronic diseases and lifestyle-related disorders have accelerated the demand for wearable devices around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic which has brought a sharp focus to prioritise health is expected to further drive the demand for wearable devices in the future.
These tech trends are only a fraction of the potential for digital and tech applications in healthcare.
While the growth of digital technology in healthcare will bring about its own unique challenges such as privacy and data security concerns, digital technology will continue to play a prominent role in the future of the industry.
It, therefore, becomes crucial for administrators and healthcare providers to recognise the tremendous impact such technology will have on healthcare services and work to adapt and keep pace with this exciting, innovative, technology-driven future.