May 2, 2021

The future of healthtech

Technology trends in healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed various major obstacles in the healthcare industry. However, it has also presented numerous prospects for entrepreneurs and investors. Namely, according to Mercom Capital Group, investors pumped $21.6 billion into digital health firms in 2020, more than twice the amount spent the previous year and almost four times the amount invested in 2016. 

According to Global Market Insights, the digital health market in 2019 was valued at over $106 billion, and the sector is expected to expand at a 28.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2026. The increasing number of COVID-19 cases around the world has boosted the proliferation of emerging health technology and will continue to do so. 

Businesses in the sector are still looking for new ways to increase their performance, competitiveness, and quality, despite the fact that proven technologies are always chosen for their reliability. So, to understand how the healthtech industry is going to evolve, let’s take a look at some of the hottest technology trends in healthcare.  

Telehealth 

Telehealth is booming due to COVID-19. In April 2020, telehealth methods replaced in-person appointments with 43.5% of primary care visits. One of the most significant advantages of telehealth is that it avoids interaction with patients, healthcare providers, and other patients, which really matters in times when we’re facing a pandemic. Wearable sensors provide healthcare professionals access to real-time patient information while they’re still at home. 

Patient awareness is the most significant factor in telehealth’s performance. Since most people are familiar with telehealth options, the market already has a bright future. Mental health is one of the problems patients are addressing with telehealth. Research claims that depression (53% of visits), bipolar disorder (55%), and anxiety (53.9%) all resulted in an uptick in telemedicine visits, while glaucoma accounted for 3% of visits. Higher rates of use for common conditions were linked to a smaller drop in total weekly visits. 

Electronic health records (EHR) are also one crucial aspect of telemedicine. Patients and healthcare professionals can access patient medical history via the app, which makes the entire communication process much more manageable.  

Internet of Things (IoT) 

With the support of healthcare mobility solutions and other emerging technology and next-generation healthcare services, IoT will simplify patient care workflow. Interoperability, machine-to-machine connectivity, knowledge sharing, and data movement are all enabled by IoT in healthcare, making healthcare service delivery more effective. 

With real-time tracking of the condition enabled by a smart medical device connected to a mobile app, connected devices will gather medical and other required health data and send it to a health practitioner through the smartphone’s data connection. 

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR) 

Virtual and augmented reality are relevant inventions with a lot of promise for improving telehealth efficiency, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This technology is transforming imagination into practice, from improving patient and physician visits to assisting medical students in process simulations. 

The use of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies to help stroke patients resolve motor deficits has shown promise. To support these patients in recovering muscle function, they must be placed in a stable setting. Simulated settings, on the other hand, have greater versatility than physical therapy. These monitored models can be used and collect data and assist clinicians in customizing treatment programs for their patients. 

Lifelike surgical preparation classes, additional clinical opportunities for students, pain management therapy are just part of the opportunities to use AR and VR in healthcare. An exciting example comes from the George Washington University Hospital, where scientists leveraged the power of VR to study the lung scans of a COVID-19 patient.  

Blockchain 

The peer-to-peer structure of blockchain enables a vast number of people to access a shared ledger safely. There is no need for a trust foundation between parties, thanks to this innovation. As healthcare technology advances, portability, stability, and connectivity are all desirable goals that blockchain, along with other developments. 

During the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, data integrity, confidentiality, connectivity, and portability remain major concerns. Blockchain is a critical infrastructure that can assist medical providers in securely and remotely communicating with COVID-19 patients. 

With absolute transparency through the digital ledger, blockchain increases credibility and accountability. Any transactions are logged into the blockchain system whether there are questions that arise can be immediately addressed. Since this is very simple to do, it often saves money that would have been spent constantly monitoring these transfers. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

Artificial Intelligence with human-like information processing and decision-making opens up a world of opportunities. Diagnosis accuracy, speed, and performance can all be improved with this technology. Early diagnosis is possible thanks to AI-driven analytics, which will assist healthcare providers in determining the best solution for a particular patient.  

Drug discovery can also be advanced by progressing the hunt for chemical and biological associations using machine learning algorithms. This will significantly expedite the introduction of new medicines to the market. Another aspect of AI in healthcare is natural language processing. Natural language processing is a part of Artificial intelligence that helps machines interpret spoken statements by transferring data into a patient’s electronic health record in real-time.  

Researchers from MIT and Harvard University used machine learning to map mental health patterns in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide and depression issues had almost doubled, according to their AI model, which evaluated thousands of anonymous Reddit posts. The application of machine learning to forecast mental health patterns has the power to help us realize the importance of mental health. 

Conclusion 

Telemedicine, the Internet of Things, AR & VR, blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and the use of data are only some of the trends that are going to shape the use of healthcare in the following years.  

The most influential entrepreneurs would be those who identify new opportunities, conquer them with a plan that customers will accept, and generate value. Despite some of the problems, the enormous size of the healthcare industry ensures there is always plenty of room for companies with ambitious ideas.