With the fast pacing digital world, where nothing is static, ‘dynamism’ has become an underlying characteristic of the economy. Everything around us is rapidly evolving be it our thoughts, mentality, technology, any sector or domain, or a country as a whole. Now, if we talk about technology, it never fails in surprising us with its innovations and inventions. The amalgamation of “technological reforms” with the oldest, but the most crucial “health care sector” has made us go awestruck.
USA spends around $3 trillion a year towards its health care industry. Healthcare domain is like a backbone to the economy, as everything starts and ends with health. Technology has always been of utmost importance in the healthcare sector. This amalgamated “Health Tech” is now all set to become a perfect epitome of “digital transformation”. The motto is not just to suffice the basic tasks of the health care sector but to gratify the experience of people.
Let’s decipher how digital transformation has revamped the entire Healthcare industry, technology trends in healthcare are as follow:
- Cloud Computing:
We are already aware of the advantages associated with “application of cloud computing” in different domains, it certainly has a meatier role to play in healthcare, too. Now, the major advantage to the hospitals by indulging in the cloud technology is that they experience lowered data handling costs and easier scalability whenever required. With these savings, they can divert the funds to other essential functions.
“Accessing data” with an ease was the biggest challenge associated with traditional servers. However, with the cloud it is now possible to access the data anytime, anywhere. Cloud provides solution to two major problems faced by the healthcare domain i.e. “data storage and data security”. With the cloud, you can now have unlimited storage for your data with “pay as you go” model. The cloud providers like AWS, Azure, GCP, etc, invest millions of dollar towards safeguarding of data on the cloud, thereby ensuring utmost safety. Confidentiality, privacy, and integrity are also maintained over the cloud.
The era of electronic medical records obliterated the need to carry physical files, reports and reduced the paperwork to a great extent. The sharing of records, reports, information about patients among the doctors has also become less of a cumbersome task lately due to cloud technology. The scope of cloud computing is increasing and so is the involvement of the healthcare domain into it. As per sources, around 83% of the healthcare organizations use cloud-based apps.
“A BCC research estimated that the global market for cloud computing healthcare will grow with 11.6% from 2017 to 2022”.
- Big Data Analytics:
“The huge chunk of data when collected and assimilated from all the possible sources gets refined and thereby analyzed through a relevant technology”. This is big data analytics or data engineering in healthcare, where big data implies the bulk of data.
Let’s understand this with an example.
A patient XYZ comes to a clinic with the given particulars like age, gender, height, weight, certain race characteristics, medical history, details on genetic background, any specific disease or treatment, allergies, etc. Based on these details, a search is being made in the entire population to detect the similar patients who have suffered from the same condition in past. Now, this huge chunk of patients’ data is collected by the doctor or physician who is treating XYZ. Through this data, the doctor can come to know which all were the medication, treatments, etc, suggested to all those similar patients in past. This will be a great aid to the doctor with additional information about other relevant treatments, which may be applicable on or beneficial to XYZ too.
The data is collected from various data sources gets refined through content processing framework. This refined data along with the doctor’s own knowledge will suffice the input particulars and helps in creating a suitable treatment plan for XYZ.
- Internet of Things:
Internet of Things often abbreviated as IoT is connecting all the physical devices through the internet. The scope and applications of IoT in this domain is very broad. Starting with, Electronic sensors, they can help through guiding on various possible treatment options at the cellular level without applying it directly on the patients. Fitness bands can help in monitoring the health and diet, checking blood pressure, calculating calories, showing heart rate, and so on. Other examples may include smartwatches, smart eyewear, smart clothing, etc. Such wearables are the biggest boon of IoT.
Through IoT, the doctors can easily access patients’ information stored on the cloud. IoT connected devices also enhance the patient experience in numerous ways. With IoT, patients can control the temperature of room, lighting system, can interact with their near ones through video calling, and also can call doctors or the caretakers via intercom in case of urgency. This domain is expanding its services like anything and nowadays it aims to provide a lavish experience to the patients. IoT has indeed helped a lot in that. The volume of healthcare IoT devices will expect to grow at a CAGR of around 35% from 2015 to 2020.
- Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analysis:
AI is a technological aspect that behaves and performs more like how humans perform cognitive functions. Virtual assistants being an application of AI, communicate with the patients in solving queries, doubts, questions,and concerns promptly, and they also monitor the patients. Not only with swift replies, they also assist through facilitating smooth communication with patients irrespective of any day or time. It is expected that with virtual assistants, the industry can save up to $20 billion annually. AI can also assist in diagnosing patients and ascertaining solutions with the help of big data.
Apart from assisting and diagnosing, AI also has a major impact on the healthcare domain in promoting ‘automation’. It automates all the troublesome manual and repetitive administrative tasks. It ultimately saves the time of doctors and caretakers. The savings through implementing AI are expected to be near around $18 billion.
Technology like “voice-to-text” transcriptions can help in prescribing medicines and writing chart notes. Though AI’s progress is quite slow, but the applications of AI can be truly intriguing for the entire healthcare industry.
‘Predictive Analysis’ can also be very well implemented in the health industry. Just like Big data, where we have collected data on different patients’ treatment plans, who have the same symptoms as XYZ. What if, we can also select the best treatments out of all the possible ones, to whom those patients have responded well. Now the focus is more on ‘Selection’, one-step after ‘Identification’. With the patients’ data and suggested treatments, the conclusion can be made for selecting the most suitable treatment for XYZ.
- Blockchain Technology:
The biggest advantage of introducing and integrating this technology with health sector is to prevent “data breach” i.e., aiming to ensure safety in health care. Through blockchain, electronic medical records are kept safe and secured by adhering to regulations and compliances. The patients’ data can be stored in immutable ‘blocks’, which can neither be modified, altered nor accessed without availing the consensus or permission of the concerned parties (here they can be patients). By implementing blockchain, pharma companies can also track the movement of medicines and drugs from the point of manufacturing until the end delivery point i.e. entire supply chain.
Frauds via insurance are quite rampant in the healthcare sector. It can be done by providing fake bills to the insurance companies to claim for the services, which were never availed. Blockchain can thereby help in reducing the number of frauds. As doctors and patients need to put the complete information which is further checked, recorded and stored. The insurance companies have access to that crucial unaltered data. They can check and verify each and every detail to identify whether the claims are genuine or spurious.
How blockchain exactly works in a healthcare organization?
The organization stores their patients’ clinical data in their existing IT database system. All the relevant information, as well as patients public ID are transferred to blockchain via APIs. In the blockchain, smart contract starts forming. The transactions get stored in the blocks, with patients’ public ID, which is non identifiable in nature. In blockchain, health organizations can trigger requests or queries via APIs. Only such information which is non-identifiable like age, gender, weight, height, symptoms and, illness can be viewed. Patients can, however, share their identity with the organization (hospital). The private key of patients can link their identity to the blockchain. The private key can also be shared among new health organizations like among different hospitals. With the private key, organizations can view the patients data and can access the relevant details. It should be noted the data remains unidentifiable to those who don’t have the private key.
Introducing blockchain in healthcare will not only save the time of patients and doctors in recapping the same details again but also ensure utmost safety and confidentiality of sensitive information.
- Robotics and Chatbots:
Robots can certainly make a big impact in the entire healthcare sector. The robotic caretakers can look after patients’ and monitor their health. They are also capable to alert the hospital staff if there is any emergency. Introducing robots in healthcare can reduce the workload of hospital staff up to a great extent. The staff can give more attention to serious and urgent cases, but without overlooking the other patients as bots can take care of them. Robots can also enter information to create the patient electronic health records. They can assist and help the doctors in performing arduous surgeries too. Considering a long-term scenario, they are quite capable of replacing human workers for manual and repetitive work. Around 70% of healthcare professionals believe that robotics and chatbots can inculcate ‘efficiency’ in their day to day routine.
Chatbots have started leaving their imprints in the health tech. They can efficiently interact with the people and assist them in their queries and concerns. Instead of hiring a human for this role, these chatbots can provide quality services irrespective of any specific day and time. They are designed to resolve health-related questions and work either on the basis of certain fed rules, algorithms or through machine learning. The chatbots can effectively deal with repetitive tasks like fixing appointments of patients, sending reminders, calling patients one after another in a queue, etc. Though it is still in the emerging phase but they can also assist in diagnosis, if patients explain them their symptoms. Babylon is one of the leading companies in the health chatbot domain.
It includes delivering health care services like consultation, assessment, etc, via telecommunication. It involves providing services to patients electronically with the help of either smartphones or video calls, without meeting a patient in person. It greatly solves the geographic barriers as now doctors can even access remote areas too through the internet.
There are numerous health care apps available on the play store through which people can take preventive measures, monitor their health, get diet support in certain medical issues and so on. The best part is irrespective of the time, day, date these apps can assist you without any interruption and inconvenience. With mobiles, the solution is now on fingertips and using such healthcare apps becomes a lot easier. Hundreds of new health care apps get introduced in regular intervals and the volume of such apps have already surged to 318,000. As per sources, these medical apps can help in cutting U.S. healthcare industry costs by $7 billion yearly. More than 50 million people worldwide use these health-related and fitness-related apps.
Zymr is into developing “Patients apps and Clinical apps” in its health-tech module. Patients app empower the patients on various fronts from scheduling appointments to accessing their own medical and health reports with ease and comfort. Clinical apps help the doctors and nurses in tracking the health of their patients and accessing their reports seamlessly.
Previously, the medical field was associated with a lot of trial and error. But now with the advent of “Digital transformation”, DX has truly revolutionized the entire healthcare industry and converted it into a concrete Health Tech domain. Technology has the power and potential to take the healthcare industry to new heights. The worldwide digital health market will become a $536 billion industry by 2025.
Zymr Inc. provides the full stack of cloud solutions, mobile app development, and security services. Along with other domains, it also focuses on “Health tech” being the most crucial one. You can read an entire case study related to Healthcare Service Orchestration prepared by zymr’s team. Contact us today for all your concerns related to Health tech and outshine the crowd!