2021 has been a challenging year for the entire healthcare sector. Without a doubt, the global pandemic induced by the novel coronavirus COVID19 pushed the limits to industry professionals to extreme boundaries.
However, it also highlighted the need for progress, especially when it comes to technology. From tracking medical records, predictive diagnosis, and treatments to consulting and overall health keeping, it’s now become evident that modern technologies can vastly improve the state of the healthcare industry.
It’s exceedingly clear that the world wasn’t ready for the ongoing juggling of the virus and pre-existing health-related issues.
And we can already see many trends emerging and shaping the industry for the future. This is a direct consequence not only of COVID-19 but also of a multitude of other factors, including but not limited to the aging population, evolving care models, infrastructure advancements, labor costs primarily caused by staff shortage, as well as the rising prevalence of chronic diseases.
FPT Software has been working with Rioks, a B2B marketing consultancy, to wrap up the top 5 HealthTech trends in 2021. In the midst of all this, those clear challenges provide a relatively clear direction of where the future of healthcare lies. Some of the most important healthcare technology trends to consider, going in 2021, include, but are not limited to:
- AR/VR in Healthcare
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud Computing
- Predictive Analytics and Data Science
Now, without any further ado, let’s dive in the details.
Telemedicine is undoubtedly among the most significant sources of massive changes in the global healthcare industry, especially with the spread of COVID-19, even though it goes well beyond that.
Needless to say, this healthcare technology trend is only bound to strengthen as the world, in general, is taking a mobile-first approach in the current epidemiologic conditions.
Telemedicine is one of the reasons for the rapid improvements in diagnosing and treatment by providing patients with much broader and quicker access to industry specialists.
In terms of healthcare software, plenty of examples exist in various sub-fields such as data exchange, video chat platforms, mobile diagnostic solutions, and whatnot. Going forward, as the world gets more and more connected, telemedicine is likely to become a predominant factor where specialists will be able to consult their patients from a distance without the particular need for in-person visitation. This, of course, has many implications on other fields as well, and would likely push the technological advancement of the entire sector.
2. AR/VR in Healthcare
A study conducted by industry specialists titled The Applications of Virtual Reality Technology in Medical Groups Teaching, revealed that using virtual reality (VR) technology “has improved learning in 17 (74%) studies. Higher accuracy in medical practice by people trained through VR has been reported in 20 (87%) studies.”
In other words, the advancement of augmented and virtual reality technology is likely to continue being one of the most predominant healthcare technology trends going forward in 2021.
It also has specific use cases. For instance, one of the biggest challenges in overcoming motor deficiencies that usually follow a stroke is putting patients in an environment that’s robust enough to leverage a proper improvement process. It’s been shown that enhanced and stimulated environments enable further interactions that might as well be possible throughout physical therapy.
Virtual reality is a technology that allows this without the burden of physical considerations. Data can be aggregated using monitoring processes to assist therapists further when they devise and customize personalized treatment plans.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud Computing
It’s worth noting that artificial intelligence (AI) is among the more nascent healthcare technology trends. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s not capable of redefining the industry as we know it.
Developing AI solutions that can process information at a rate tenfold higher than traditional computing, as well as offer decision-making data, has birthed a brand new sector in the industry. AI-based applications can gravely increase the speed, but also the accuracy of the overall diagnostic process.
Cloud computing, on the other hand, is also a hot topic, especially when it comes to healthcare software solutions. A paper called A Scoping Review of Cloud Computing in Healthcare observed various challenges in front of the industry with respect to cloud computing and outlined that its often used in genomics, proteomics, and molecular medicine. It also revealed that other fields are far less represented, indicating a vast potential for future improvement.
4. Predictive Analytics and Data Science
Compiling information about a patient who suffers from, let’s say a chronic disease, is no challenge. The challenging part is to convert this data into something actionable.
This is why improvements in predictive analytics and data science have made it entirely possible for professionals to seek more in-depth insights.
Appropriate data is absolutely detrimental when it comes to making actionable and, in the field of medicine – life-saving decisions. This has become even more evident in the past few months with the spread of the COVID19 pandemic. Data science, as well as predictive analytics, are two critical factors that help specialists determine multiple variables about the virus, as well as potential outcomes and solutions. With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, both healthcare technology trends will likely keep gaining traction in 2021.
Record keeping is one of the most important considerations for any medical establishment. However, if the past couple of years have shown us something, it’s that people are getting more and more concerned about the privacy of their personal information.
Blockchain-based technology provides a transparent and immutable ledger, and one of its best use cases is, indeed, record keeping.
Storing information on a distributed ledger is particularly convenient for a variety of different reasons. First, it automatically multiplies the points of attack, making hacking attempts a lot more challenging to succeed. Second, it’s entirely transparent, meaning that all the record transfers can be easily monitored and verified. It also puts the user in charge of his own privacy.
Wrapping it up…
The healthcare industry is of paramount importance for the well-being of the entire world, and it’s safe to say that all eyes are turned to it right now.
The unexpected outburst of the global pandemic revealed substantial inefficiencies in the field, showcasing the desperate need for technological innovation.
It also became rather clear that a lot of the solutions already exist and have been appropriately implemented in a range of other sectors. Going forward in 2021, let’s hope that this will also become the case with medicine.