The technological revolution of the 20th century changed the world, and things have only moved faster in the 21st. Technology is everywhere, ubiquitous, a common factor in the overwhelming majority of lives on the planet, in every industry, and in every country. Has healthcare missed the boat on this? Far from it. Constantly-improving healthcare technologies have revolutionized patient care management, offering patients a more intimate insight into their health and opening countless doors for clinicians, physicians, doctors, and surgeons.
These medical and healthcare trends are going to continue. The ongoing development of medical software is leading to increasingly efficient healthcare, one that brings doctors and patients closer together while ironing out the creases of a service that deals in life and death. 2021 and beyond will see many new developments and revolutions, and these five technologies will be front and center of it all.
2020 saw humongous developments in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare, as hospitals and physicians strove for ways to streamline service while keeping costs and time at a minimum. The evolution of AI has reached a point where clinicians can rely on it across a vast range of areas, from immediate patient care to long-term medical strategies.
By definition, AI partially removes the human element of healthcare, and while this can make for more robotic treatment processes it can also create considerable improvements in patient care management, be it through the organization of triage or enhancing the ability of a physician when it comes to diagnosis. AI has the ability to immediately identify areas of concern, saving precious time in focusing on those potential cases that are more serious than others. The power of processing large amounts of medical data allows physicians to find that needle in a haystack, in record time. In many ways, Artificial Intelligence is the perfect doctor’s assistant, covering the arduous yards and freeing up the physician for more pertinent tasks. This is also the case for leveling-out patient data, as AI is able to integrate extensive amounts of information in record time.
AI has also smoothened patient treatment, with the digital replacing the manual in a whole host of medical processes, notably in oncology. The early teething issues of AI are long gone, and this most inventive of healthcare technologies has become one of the industry’s most cost-effective companions.
For many years, those in the know have believed that Blockchain will be the key that eventually unlocks the frustrating barriers that stand in the way of safe data-sharing across healthcare, the silver bullet that will improve everything from mobile health applications to the sharing and storing of medical records and everything in between. In short, people have long expected Blockchain to be a real game-changer.
2021 will be the year that his prediction becomes a reality. The main advantages of Blockchain are numerous and clear to see. The system affords greater transparency and enhanced security, while simultaneously increasing the efficiency and speed of transactions, reducing costs, and improving traceability. By taking out the middle-man when it comes to data, Blockchain is going to bring data-sharing to the very heart of healthcare.
Patients will finally be able to be in control of where their medical data is available, as well as being able to connect to other hospitals in order to make information available to those treating them. The peer-to-peer network allows massive numbers of users to approach a common ledger, making the data-sharing process an altogether smoother operation.
The Internet of (Medical) Things
Simply put, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is revolutionizing the way healthcare is perceived and delivered. Since being ‘born’ in 2008, the IoT has grown and grown, but few industries have taken to it quite like healthcare. In fact, studies suggest that up to 30% of the entire IoT market is taken up by healthcare — no small number and a clear indication of where this trend is headed.
The benefits of the Internet of Things in the medical world are clearly seen in the increasing spread of medical devices and applications that connect to healthcare information technology using a number of networking options, along with the many wearable devices that allow useful medical measurements to be taken and shared almost immediately. It has never been easier for healthcare to make accurate estimations of key data, and the IoMT is the key player responsible.
The IoMT has also been a life-saving development within individual healthcare industries, be it improvements to insulin pens for those with diabetes to the treatment and monitoring of symptoms in cancer patients. The sky is the limit when it comes to the Internet of Things in healthcare
While many of the healthcare technologies mentioned in this article are improving patient care management in the active stage, few are making as big a long-term difference as the improvements in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). AR and VR are not only changing the way doctors treat their patients, they are also improving the way would-be doctors and surgeons learn about their craft before they meet that first patient.
AR and VR are proving invaluable in providing trainee clinicians with realistic healthcare simulations, allowing doctors of tomorrow to navigate their way through lifelike dilemmas and surgical procedures, providing confidence and experience before having to perform such skills with real lives on the line. This is a priceless development that can only serve the industry well.
It isn’t just education where the improvements afforded by AR ad VR are clear. AR’s ability to provide real-time data has opened up the opportunity for surgeons to access life-saving information while on the table, while VR’s immersive capabilities are helping in the treatment of phobias as well as many conditions focused on mental health such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even developmental disorders like autism.
The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world in 2020 changed a lot of things, but few areas of patient care management were as impacted as the rise of telemedicine. The transition from in-person check-ups to those conducted online or over the phone has been happening for some time, but the ratio accelerated dramatically in 2020 as both physicians and patients alike looked to reduce the amount of physical contact between individuals in the hope of slowing the spread of the disease. Now that the cat is out of the bag, this is only going to continue.
As many experts expected, patients found that the awkwardness they expected from telemedicine simply wasn’t there at all, and the process was far more comfortable than they had first assumed. The development of patient management software has plenty to do with this, as does the increased awareness of wearable devices that allow for real-time information, streamlining the entire process of diagnosis. Electronic health records and increased connectivity means that physically visiting a clinic or hospital for a simple check-up is become ever more superfluous. It may not ever be entirely obsolete, but this trend is only moving in one direction. Telemedicine was always the future, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it very much the present as well.
HTEC is in possession of broad and extensive technological know-how in MedTech, a profound understanding of the specifics of the medical industry, and substantial experience on relevant projects in some of the most innovative areas of Medical technology.
To discover how we can help you productize your vision and harness sophisticated technology to improve patient care, get in touch with HTEC!