A recent article published by New York Times claimed that a deep learning algorithm was able to screen for lung cancer with 94% accuracy. The system was even able to match and sometimes even beat, 6 expert radiologists who were part of the study. This news might sound sensationalist for most outsiders, but for people in the Healthcare industry, it is a sign of the changing times. The industry is moving from products and services model to a solutions model. Preventive care and improving patient experience would be the focus of innovation as we go into the future and technology will play a huge role in accomplishing it. The future of healthcare lies in comprehensive healthcare platforms, big data and healthcare analytics.
Here are the top 5 trends which will revolutionize healthcare.
AI and Deep Learning
AI and Deep learning (often used interchangeably) will bring some of the biggest innovations in the healthcare industry. AI systems are being actively pursued for drug development, early diagnosis, treatment protocol, personalized medicine and patient monitoring and care. AI has been extensively used in the field of Radiology as evidenced from the New York Times story. Some of the notable industry leaders who are developing AI/ Deep learning-based healthcare solution include:
- IBM’s Watson:- It can diagnose, analyze scientific papers and even help in drug discovery
- Microsoft’s Hanover project:- It analyses medical research and predicts cancer drug treatment approaches for patients
- Google’s DeepMind:- Image analysis for cancer recognition and early health risk detection
The use of AI will help decrease the overall healthcare cost, as accurate diagnosis and preventive medical intervention using technological solutions become mainstream. Countries with very little access to experts can use similar technologies to democratize healthcare for the masses.
The tech industry has seen many devices being launched to satisfy even the most diverse of consumer needs. Devices now are so sophisticated, that it is almost as accurate as a professional ECG machine. Interestingly, IoT devices in the future will have much more potential than the off the shelf wearable tech available today.
Future devices could enable remote patient monitoring using smart sensors and integrate the data generated with the larger healthcare infrastructure wirelessly. 5G technology will certainly be a great boost to the infrastructure needs needed for the IoT ecosystem. When 5G becomes more common, IoT devices will get a lot more common and mainstream.
Let’s look at some of the examples of how IoT can influence the future of healthcare.
- For Patients: – Preventive medicine enabled by wearables will be the big buzz of the future. Wearable devices would be able to monitor blood pressure, heart rate and glucose levels with very high accuracy that it would be classified as a healthcare device.
- For Physicians: – Physicians can monitor and intervene more effectively by analyzing the data from wearable devices. Data collected can also be used to identify the best treatment approach for patients.
- For Hospitals: – Hospitals can use IoT enabled systems for monitoring equipment, tracking pharma inventory among other things. Post-operative monitoring of patients is also a new area of research.
- For Insurance companies: – Insurance companies are piloting programs which reduced health insurance premiums for people sharing data from their wearables and health apps. This will become common. Data from multiple devices can be used to calculate individualized risk profile and then corresponding premiums will be calculated according to a person’s risk profile.
Even though the advantages of moving to cloud ecosystem are many, healthcare systems have been the slowest to transition due to the sensitivity of data and more importantly privacy legislations. As cloud becomes more and more acceptable in our day to day life, it is but natural that healthcare data would also transition to the cloud.
As HIPAA/ GDPR compatible cloud solutions become more common, it will become an essential part of the healthcare landscape. Some of the use cases of Cloud solutions in healthcare are:
- Data Visualization tools would represent health parameters of an individual into usable forms for self & professional evaluation. Data for this can be collected from various sources including medical devices, wearables and even connected weighing machine.
- Counterfeit protection of drugs, medical equipment, and other consumables.
- EHR or Electronic Health Record could be used to track a patient history between physicians, hospitals and insurance companies.
- Mobile apps can be used extensively in the healthcare industry for pre, during and post hospital care.
Blockchain’s main advantage is that applications built using blockchain algorithms will have very high data privacy and security. Blockchain technology will primarily be used in healthcare to store and transfer data securely.
If blockchain technologies are introduced to pharma supply chain, it could effectively reduce instances of fake and counterfeit drugs within the system. Areas which will see blockchain technology implemented are:
- Medical data management
- Supply chain management
Telemedicine has been one of the greatest successes of technology in the healthcare sector. With solutions available now, patients can access the services of a physician from anywhere in the world. This means that patients can get access to doctors who are otherwise not available to them. These technologies, even though great, has its limitations. AR and VR technologies can greatly augment these capabilities and improve the final user experience.
With the advent of AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality) and related technologies, Physicians can touch, diagnose and even conduct surgeries remotely using these technologies. AR and VR will enable the doctor to see the patient without being present near the patient. Some of the application of AR/ VR technology in healthcare include:
- Robotics and remote surgery
- Training Physicians
The focus of the healthcare industry is slowly shifting from treatment to preventive care. This means the industry also is moving from products and services model to solutions model. To make this transition, it is important to adopt and implement technologies such as AI and AR. The advantage of using technology is that while it improves the quality of care for patients, it also reduces the overall healthcare cost. Using technology is a big win for all the stakeholders. Healthcare industry as a whole must rethink and transform their strategies to stay ahead of the curve.
Experion has extensive experience working with partners and clients to implement AR/ VR, mobile, IoT and cloud technologies in the healthcare domain. We have worked with hospitals, ISVs and insurance companies to transform and aid their digital transformation strategies.