From Artificial Intelligence to Virtual Reality, ingestible sensors and real-time patient health tracking apps, healthcare has never looked so sci-fi, nor been full of so much potential.
Technology is revolutionising the future of the healthcare industry, with Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Virtual Reality all offering the potential to provide next-generation healthcare to patients, while driving leaner and more responsive organisations.
This new future is explored in our report Healthcare reimagined: Innovation trends, predictions and actions for healthcare leaders. We delve into the key healthcare technology trends to watch. Whether it is health tracking apps to help patients communicate with their GPs, gene therapy to predict future health issues, or exoskeletons to help people walk, innovative thinking and technology are bringing huge benefits to healthcare.
So what can we expect to see emerge on the healthcare landscape? Here is a snapshot of the changes to come.
Affordable technology, wide-spread Wi-Fi, social media, and a greater acceptance of sharing data are radically changing how healthcare providers engage with and monitor the wellbeing of consumers. Connected technology is also meeting the demands of consumers who increasingly expect more transparency and choice regarding their treatment and referral decisions.
We are seeing a rise in the creation of digital apps that let consumers access their own healthcare information, and online services and social networking platforms that let consumers see advice and information where, when and how they want it.
For example, ReachOut is an Australian online, youth-oriented mental health and wellbeing service that delivers helpful information to consumers 24/7 via podcasts, online forums, fact sheets and stories. In the UK, Government website NHS Choices puts consumers in charge of their healthcare; publishing health information, service directories, and enabling online transactions with healthcare providers.
Digital connectivity is also changing the physical environments, such as a patient’s home, with devices keeping them linked to their medical provider. Devices can track whether pills are being taken, if a patient is sleeping, or if their heartbeat is regular, with alerts being sent to the healthcare professional when there are issues. For example Lively Mobile is a small wearable sensor with in-built GPS positioning, which notifies emergency responders if a patient falls and cannot move. This monitoring can be done from the comfort of their home – whether they’re near a hospital or in a regional area.
Sensors can also be ingested and implanted, such as eSkin™ technology, which can continuously (and discretely) measure temperature and transmit this information to healthcare professionals.
Interconnectivity is also being employed directly within healthcare organisations. Where once a patient’s medical information was spread across various healthcare providers, shared electronic health records (supported with mobile Apps) are becoming mainstream.
Beyond connectivity, technology is being developed to directly assist physicians in treating patients in real time. AI is becoming prevalent within medicine, from supporting clinical decisions to data mining, and detecting irregularities in MRI scans and X-Rays.
Two of the other biggest technology trends, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), are helping with training clinicians through simulation, as well as educating patients and aiding with treatment. For example Cool! VR pain relief is using a virtual world of landscapes and changing seasons to distract a patient and provide pain relief.
AR can also be used to help improve safety and to make certain tasks more efficient; including superimposing patient records and vital signs in real time as a doctor assesses a patient.
The future potential of technology and healthcare is an open book. Whether we’re looking at serious use of autonomous vehicles such as drones to deliver medication, or self-driving ambulances that bring patients to a hospital), it’s clear that innovation is powering forward, and is vital.
More information on the technological advances within healthcare are explored in Healthcare reimagined: Innovation trends, predictions and actions for healthcare leaders.