As we are welcoming 2022, COVID-19 is continuing to linger around with new variants and complications. The global pandemic has changed the way industries used to behave and act, and one of the most impacted industries has been Healthcare.
We have seen how Healthcare has been evolving in a novel way by incorporating advanced technologies, digitalization, and practices to cater to the high demand of the customer. Healthcare service providers across the world have shown the way by using innovative methods of ailment detection, healthcare service delivery, vaccine development, testing, etc.
As we are venturing into the future, it’s vital to remain aware of the current trends, that are driving healthcare technology in 2022 and beyond.
While the legacy infrastructure and software continue to play an important role in the success of healthcare service providers, it is crucial to know how these systems can be integrated with technological advancements and how they may be replaced with more dependable systems in the future.
The primary focus must be on enhancing productivity, performance, security, and process efficiency without compromising on accessibility and reliability.
Let’s have a glimpse of innovative technologies and trends that have the potential to drive digital transformation for your healthcare organization.
Table of Contents
Trend 1: Evolution of Telemedicine and Remote Care
Telehealth has seen a dramatic evolution since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. We have seen how caregivers are using video conferencing apps to meet their patients over the internet to discuss their ailments and prescribe their treatment.
The overall technology infrastructure has been improved in terms of Mobile phones, High-speed data availability, and telehealth applications. The telehealth market could grow up to a staggering $185.6 billion by 2026. Let’s see what sort of possibilities lies as far as Telehealth is concerned.
WebRTC FOR Video Conferencing
We need a dedicated solution, that can address the legal and privacy requirements while allowing patients to avail themselves of the healthcare services remotely. In pursuit of such a solution, WebRTC comes as a big boon.
It is an open-source API-based solution that connects mobile apps with web browsers and allows seamless transmission of data, audio, video, and files. This is extremely helpful for video conferencing needs and it enables patients and caregivers to have an interactive session online.
Data Storage and Cloud Hosting
Data Storage is the most critical aspect of any Healthcare service provider. Cloud offers a cost-effective and secure method to store the data.
With more emphasis on data security, we may see HIPAA or other industry-specific compliant cloud solutions that can store Data and host a plethora of applications while complying with government regulations to protect health information.
Such solutions will help us maintain the efficiency and functionality of healthcare services based on EVR (electronic health records).
Advanced Telehealth Applications
We may see innovative applications that not only fulfill the basic healthcare requirements but also offer adequate security, appointment management, locations services, secure messaging, wearable device integration to name a few.
These applications will fetch the data from consumer devices such as Fit Bit, Google Fit, or Apple Health Kit. Seamless integration of these devices with applications will offer enormous benefits to caregivers and patients.
Benefits of Telemedicine and Remote Healthcare
- Better healthcare access
- Enhanced healthcare quality
- Decreases healthcare costs
- Increases patient engagement and satisfaction
- Increases healthcare service provider satisfaction
Trend 2: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence has made great waves across multiple industries, and it has strengthened itself as a credible technology that can shape the future, especially for the healthcare industry.
AI’s role in the global fight against COVID-19
Artificial Intelligence has played an important role in the global fight against the COVID pandemic. Be it detection of an infected patient, vaccine development, treatment, testing, or prediction, AI has helped us in the best possible way.
Artificial Intelligence provides several advantages over conventional clinical decision-making methods. AI was used to analyze crowd temperature data, carry out thermal screening to identify potentially symptomatic patients.
AI-powered facial recognition tools were used to identify people even when they were wearing a face mask. AI has been used to detect if the user is wearing a mask where it is mandatory.
On the other hand, Machine Learning has taken giant strides in areas like vaccine development, identification of protein fragments, DNA/RNA sequencing, etc. It enables drug manufacturers to develop the COVID vaccines in way shorter periods.
Strategic implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can enable doctors, physicians, and patients with accurate and precise data, which allows them to get better insight into diagnostics, treatment variability, patient outcomes, and care processes.
Drug Development and Diagnosis
AI helps drug manufacturers by improving their efficiency, information processing, analysis capability, and decision making. AI and ML are extremely accommodating in the development of innovative drug, testing, and diagnosis processes.
AI could be used to analyze CT scans to spot pneumonia and it also speeds up the 3D contouring process of the patient. AI systems can be utilized to design catalog biomedical research sources, that can reduce diagnosis and treatment time for critical ailments.
Natural Language Processing
Chatbots are improving the efficiency of telehealth and making interaction easy for the patients. Organizations are combining AI systems and Chatbot technology to develop Virtual Radiologist applications, that can assist patients to perform a self-diagnosis themselves.
Natural Language Processing helps Chatbot to capture responses from patients and obtain important information before even the treatment can initiate.
AI role in Mental Health
AI aided innovations have been used to improve not only physical health but mental health as well. We have multiple applications, that can monitor the mental tendencies of patients and raise alarm if they observe any mental stress, loneliness-induced tension, or even suicidal tendencies.
Patients’ mental health and associated trends could be shared with medical experts, so that appropriate action could be taken well in time.
Data Modelling and Decision Making
Data is unarguably the most vital element that drives AI’s success in the healthcare industry. Data could be act as a learning model for AI-ML-powered tools and machines, and they will never Software powered by machine learning will never outdo the eminence of its training dataset.
The more the breadth and quality of the data we offer to the learning model, the better it will perform in real-time. This will help us with data analytics and decision-making.
Benefits of AI and ML
- Mind-mapping via Computer-Brain interfaces
- Development of next-gen healthcare tools
- Accurate Data analytics for medical data
- Empowering with intelligence for machines and medical devices
- Advancing therapies for cancer treatments
Trend 3: Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality and Metaverse
Extended reality is indeed a blanket term that includes virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. It offers unimaginable potential for the healthcare industry, right from surgery to training, or aiding telehealth apps, it can do everything. VR and AR technologies can transform the healthcare industry considerably.
VR has opened the door for enormous innovative opportunities. It offers viable solutions to some of the most complex problems of the healthcare system, and it can solve a plethora of challenges in areas like medical training and diagnostics. Virtual Reality offers a whole new dimension to patient care delivery.
One of the most common applications of Virtual Reality is the training of doctors. We can develop virtual training situations for doctors, that can help them to hone their skills and prepare for surgeries. Virtual Reality can be used for administrating therapies to help those suffering from PTSD, fear of heights, or other phobias.
Augmented and Mixed Reality
Augmented reality and Mixed reality offer a variety of advantages for the healthcare industry. Mixed reality headsets could be used by surgeons, and it helps them fetch important information while performing procedures, allowing them not to disengage their hands.
AR/MR headsets can enable other surgeons to observe the surgery remotely and advise. The ‘holographic’ devices can enrich the overall experience of training. AR devices can even assist nurses to identify the veins to draw blood from.
Most people know Metaverse due to Facebook’s recent rebrand to Meta, which has suddenly generated a lot of noise about virtual reality experiences using social media.
Meta’s recent shift toward cartoon-style meetings might be used for Virtual Reality therapies. However, this is an evolving technology, and its effectiveness is yet to be seen.
Although technologies such as spatial audio can certainly transform and improve the effectiveness of telehealth systems by offering a better immersive digital experience.
Benefits of VR/AR/MR and Metaverse
- Psychological relief and treatment
- Data visualization and Body mapping
- Risk assessment and Advanced diagnostics
- Virtual Reality aided surgery
- Augmented Reality surgery assistance
- Medical Training and Simulation
Trend 4: IoT and Wearables
As IoT and Wearables are getting more traction among the patients and healthcare service providers, their potential to transform the healthcare industry has been proved time and again. We do call this trend the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).
Currently, we have more than 11 billion IoT devices, and the global market for IoT medical devices in 2021 was USD 26.5 billion and it is likely to reach USD 94.2 billion by 2026.
With the healthcare sector becoming more connected through IoT devices and gadgets, it cannot be ignored at any cost.
Smartwatches and Wearables
The advancement of Wearable technology is unarguably among the most decisive innovations in the healthcare domain. Wearable gadgets help in monitoring the status of various parameters of a patient throughout the day remotely and sharing it with a healthcare professional so that appropriate action could be taken.
As per Deloitte’s research, 39% of users were using a smartwatch to monitor their vitals. This shows how smartwatches are getting more popular among people.
Smartwatches not only monitor an individual’s heart rate, but they can also monitor other parameters such as blood oxygen saturation, sugar saturation, calorie exhaustion, etc. There are certain functions, such as monitoring the low blood oxygen saturation, which can be performed using a specialized sensor.
We can see the increasing use of Photoplethysmography (PPG), which is an optical technology that helps us to measure the variations in blood compositions and volume. It offers more information about users’ blood vitals, that can be utilized by healthcare providers to advise patients with further diagnoses.
Apart from smartwatches, we are going to see more usage of smart hearing devices and Bio patches. AI could be used with smart hearing devices to improve noise isolation, whereas the Bio patches can allow healthcare professionals to capture an individual’s vitals conveniently.
As the healthcare industry is moving towards using several microcontrollers in unity, it is sometimes quite challenging to get all computers to effectively communicate with each other.
Almost every manufacturer uses their proprietary protocol so that their devices could connect and talk with each other and this makes it more difficult to design a unified ecosystem of IOMT solutions.
IoMT has started making an impact in Healthcare Industry via smart connected devices, things, and systems that are utilized by billions of users to leverage the data and make effective, contextualized, and timely decisions.
However, it is important to understand that we must overcome several challenges such as communication disruption factors, security issues, buffering methods, etc.
One of the most thoughtful applications for IoT in healthcare is Smart Pill. It is an innovative concept that transforms the IoT (The Internet of Things) into the IoB (The Internet of Bodies). Smart pills are nothing but edible electronics, that can be swallowed by the patient, it offers pharmaceutical assistance while fetching vital information about patients.
The first smart pill was released in 2017 after getting approval from FDA, and this trend has received an overwhelmingly positive response from all.
Benefits of IoT and Wearables
- Enhanced treatment outcomes
- Real-time monitoring and reporting
- Better patient experience
- Improved and Structured data and analysis
- Alerts and Tracking
- Improved Remote medical assistance
Trend 5: Healthcare Security and Privacy
Beyond the scope of quality of care and efficiency, security and privacy are considered vital priorities for the healthcare industry. We have seen numerous instances where the sensitive and private data of patients and healthcare service providers has been breached.
According to a report published by HealthITSecurity.com, more than 550 healthcare organizations have suffered data breaches in the year 2020, which affected over 40 million people.
You must ensure your organization and the healthcare solution must comply with HIPAA, GDPR, and several other healthcare and security-specific regulations and frameworks.
Recently after the COVID pandemic, several nations have relaxed the healthcare-specific enforcement policies and regulations.
However, this must be understood that one should comply with them as a whole, as the pandemic might subside in near future, and then regulations may go back to normal. It is always recommended to get ahead of the curve, which can certainly help us prevent hefty fines in the future.
The ePHI data should be transmitted in structured and secured formats, although it is not that easy to achieve this in the real world. You may face integration challenges while working with existing systems, data structures, and 3rd party applications.
Hence it is important to make strategic decisions to ensure utmost security and safety to the sensitive and personal data, and this trend will gain momentum as more healthcare organizations are moving towards digital transformation.
Benefits of Healthcare Security and Privacy
- Increases personal privacy of patients
- It averts discrimination
- Secures process of distributing confidential medical information
- Streamlines various administrative healthcare functions
- Improves the efficiency of a healthcare service provider
Trend 6: Organ Care Technology and Bioprinting
Do you know the world’s organ transplantation market could reach $26.5 billion by 2028? Organ transplants are an important part of the healthcare sector and there isn’t an iota of doubt about it.
As per Matthew J Everly, approximately 2,000 heart transplants take place in the USA per year, and more than 50,000 people across the world require heart transplant surgery annually.
Now the question arises that what can be done to improve the situation of millions of others who are suffering from heart disease?
Well, the answer is Organ Care Technology
Organ Care Technology
One of the best approaches is to take care of an organ while it’s outside of the patient’s body. Organ Care System has been conceived and produced by Transmedics, and it is currently being used by the Wexner Medical Center of Ohio State University.
This device can keep a lung, liver, or heart outside of the body for a longer duration by providing them adequate heat, proper care, and important nutrients.
This technology could be used with artificial intelligence so that the machine can automatically take action without asking a doctor for intervention and preserve the vital organ for weeks or months.
Machine Learning can help us determine if an organ is indeed suitable for transplant to a specific patient or not. The faster this decision could be taken; the more lives could be saved.
Well, this is a step ahead of Organ Care Technology where organs are preserved. With Bioprinting, we can develop 3D printed organs such as ears, bones, corneas, and even skin. This technology is in the evolution phase and it is currently being clinically tested by various healthcare and research organizations.
The process of Bioprinting is not much different from conventional 3D printing. Initially, a digital model of an organ is developed, then its matric structure and resolution are created. Then by using living cells known as Bio-Ink, an organ is finally created, and its functionality is tested with the help of stimulation.
Bioprinting is here for quite some time, but it is yet to be available for commercial use. In the future, we can use Artificial Intelligence analysis to develop well-engineered and compatible organs, that can be transplanted to any host.
Read Also:- Why Digital Transformation is Essential for your Business
Trend 7: Data Science and Predictive Analytics
Healthcare Industry produces a massive volume of data such as clinical, financial, R&D, operations, and administration data. Data Science can offer deep insights along with meaningful actions to enhance the operational effectiveness of the industry.
Data Science helps us recognize the patterns of scanned images to determine the defects in a human body so that the doctors can devise a perfect treatment strategy. We can use various medical image tests that include sonography, X-ray, MRI, and CT scan and then perform several operations to get more insights.
Predictive analytics (PA) is a method that utilizes statistical techniques and Information technology to analyze huge amounts of data sets to predict outcomes for patients. This information may be data from the latest medical research paper or past treatment results.
Benefits of Data Science and Predictive Analytics
- Improves the accuracy of diagnoses
- Identify the preventive medicine
- Offers predictions about potential insurance cost
- Enables researchers to create prediction models
- Helps patients to select the right hospital or physician
Trend 8: Robotics in healthcare
The usage of Robots in the healthcare industry is on rising. Robots help medical professionals to stay focused on their pressing responsibilities, while they can perform routing functions faster and efficiently. Robotics enables organizations to not only automate their medical procedures but also makes them cost-effective and safer for patients.
Medical robots can perform surgeries, restructure, and manage hospital logistics, and enable healthcare providers to provide better services to their patients. Robots are transforming the way surgeries are performed, especially microsurgeries, which humans find quite hard to handle.
The usage of robotics is only going to increase in the future due to its exclusive nature and enormous benefits.
Benefits of Robotics
- Accurate and Efficient surgeries
- Less discomfort for patients
- Less risk of infection due to Micro incisions
- Minimal scarring and blood loss
- Greater visualization
Digital Transformation in Healthcare Industry- Final Words
As 2022 rolls forward, the healthcare industry is preparing to witness more challenges with new COVID variants. Technology is indeed a big helping hand for the healthcare industry, which can help us to overcome several challenges in the future.
While efficiency and quality of healthcare will continue to enhance due to evolving and groundbreaking technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, and Extended reality, more focus will be paid to improving Data security and regulatory compliance.
If you are planning to venture into the Healthcare Industry or want to digitally transform your existing one, then believe us, this is the right time.
However, you must devise a robust strategy, use the correct set of technology and frameworks to transform your vision into a reality. While modernizing your healthcare organization, both funding and time are on the line, hence it is always recommended to team up with a professional organization, that can drive your idea with utmost passion.
If you have decided to invest in a digital solution with accurate strategy and find the right partner, then you may reach out to us, our seasoned professionals and domain experts can certainly help you achieve your digital transformation goals.