Healthcare technology, or healthtech, is expanding so rapidly that it is hard not to notice what it has to offer. 63% of European healthtech startups were founded in the last five years. While American companies stay on top with investments reaching nearly $13bn, European counterparts also secured serious amounts of investments of $2,3bn in Q3. When numbers speak for themselves, the attention must be well deserved.
From my experience working in a bespoke software development company, I learned that innovative tech solutions help the world move forward even while it is at stillstand. During a global pandemic, it is through technology that we stay connected, albeit virtually, to friends, family and colleagues. Healthtech solutions continue to be more than necessary for quarantined or vulnerable patients as well as for people, who lead busy lives and need fast and reliable health checks. This article explores 5 interesting health tech trends that contribute to advanced healthcare in the future.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) now plays an integral part in the diagnostic process in healthcare. The last couple of years showed what successful implementation of AI-based image recognition looks like and how accurate, accessible, and cost-effective automated diagnostic processes can be. In fact, AI-based diagnostics has become so good that it allows unprecedented performance in medical diagnostics going beyond rather a simple abnormality detection to super-human insights. For instance, widely spread use cases of AI can now support doctor’s decision making but future optimizations will help provide patients with custom explanations based on their health profile.
AI can provide powerful growth strategies for healthcare providers, who have chosen to adopt it. Firstly, if you have access to high-quality AI software with great algorithm accuracy, versatility, and applicability, this means that from a business point of view your company will have a competitive advantage against competitors. Secondly, AI can also help in the customer acquisition process through precise targeting options, customized messages that appeal to healthtech users individually. Last but not least, AI carries enormous potential to scale businesses through enhancing on-site workflow integration processes that connect apps with databases of record (e.g. ERP, CRM, HRIS, etc.).
The myth that technology does not care about personal data privacy any more is busted as AI in healthcare can be trained and used to spot unusual behaviors online. Potential fraud threats from users alongside different malicious software can be thus neutralized before they can cause any damage. It is predicted that the implementation of AI will drastically boost healthtech security.
2. Virtual Reality
- Improved Patient Care
Virtual reality (VR) is another healthtech trend that promises to significantly improve patients’ treatment process. Some typical use cases of VR technologies in healthcare are for instance in doctor’s preparations for complex operations – surgeons can visualize various potential obstacles and prepare for emergency situations more effectively. Another possible application of VR is for educational purposes: there are software that help people experience what different mental illnesses look like (Alzheimer’s, PTSD, specific phobias, anxiety, etc.) and therefore increase empathy and awareness towards such diseases.
- Help Patients Who Experience Discomfort
VR technology can also assist patients who are treated in a hospital setting to feel relaxed. Virtual reality can act as a distraction and could even decrease the need for pain medications due to its soothing psychological effects. Moreover, VR can be offered to patients in senior care facilities to go back to their favourite vacation spots, bringing pleasurable memories and re-living them again. Reminiscing on childhood memories such as taking a stroll through the neighborhood a patient grew up in can have very comforting effects and bring overall positive health benefits.
The worldwide mass deploying of the fifth generation technology for cellular networks began in 2019 and it is said to greatly improve remote executions thanks to the fastest speed in transmission ever. What benefits will it bring for the healthcare sector?
- Faster Downloads
Perhaps the most attractive advantage of 5G is its impressive speed of up to 10 Gbit/s, which is approximately 100 times faster than 4G networks. We continue to see just how important telemedicine is becoming in the global Covid-19 pandemic. The potential of 5G will make it considerably easier and faster to share large files like medical images and will further enhance remote patient monitoring.
- Better Communication
Virtual doctor’s appointments, online consultations, online health apps, and chatbots for secure data collection are not a farfetched dream but a part of the world we live in today. When it comes to a patient’s health, time is of the essence. Now we know what unpredictable paths the Covid-19 symptoms may take, so we are aware that prompt reactions can save lives. Similar to this, with 5G better communication will be achieved on all levels including general public information, between different medical specialists or institutions as well as individual doctor-patient communication.
4. Benefits of Healthtech Will be More Evident
Have you noticed just how popular healthy eating is nowadays among the younger generations? The same is also true for fitness programs and self-care routines. The increased demand for healthy food, clean cosmetics, and high-quality fitness regimes led to the boom of the bio food, fitness, and cosmetics industries. The clear statement here is that people want to take care of themselves and their health means a lot to them. Similarly, healthtech companies adopt customer-centric approaches that help improve their health and well-being.
Investments in healthtech try to tackle issues with care quality through social determinants (age, sex, residence, interests, health problems etc.), promote higher patient engagement, and ultimately create a better patient experience. Secondly, investments aim to reduce costs by improving clinical and operational workflows. Thirdly, making accessible healthcare possible is another main purpose of healthtech solutions. By achieving these propositions, the benefits of healthtech will become more recognizable.
5. Wearables Will Help Collect Data
One future trend of telemedicine is to promote patient engagement in monitoring their own health status. This will have a positive impact on disease prevention so serious or chronic diseases could possibly be avoided. The process of collecting valuable medical data is so easy with wearable devices that can track and save personal information that can be later shared with a medical professional to discuss any health concerns.
Some examples of such wearables include smartwatches that provide instant feedback on a fitness training routine, there are even wearable rings that can monitor body activity, measure heart rate and sleep cycles and then transfer the data to a smartphone. Women can enjoy night wearable bracelets that measure stress levels, track periods and can predict ovulation, and provide valuable health information about their fertility.
The future of health technology has certainly a lot of interesting trends to offer. Soon, technology will become such an intertwined part of our daily lives that it will be hard to imagine what we were doing back then when it was not at our fingertips. Undoubtedly, there will be challenges ahead with some of the major concerns being privacy, cost-efficiency, and general public accessibility. What is for sure though, is that future technological development already make gigantic steps towards disrupting the current state of healthcare. From now on, we will most certainly observe massive changes in our understanding of what 21st-century medicine should look like.