A look at the tech disrupting the healthcare industry
Technology has touched every single aspect of our life, making a lot of things faster and more simple. From transportation to the food industry, and e-commerce to the manufacturing industry, technology has provided numerous solutions.
When it comes to the global healthcare industry, technological innovation has unlocked a lot of interesting possibilities to give healthy and disease-free life to everyone. Looking at the data and reports, the global healthcare industry has grasped a growth rate of 4.82 percent, according to researchandmarkets.com.
Using digital technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, VR/AR, robotics, and blockchain, the healthcare industry builds a better healthcare ecosystem for the future.
Moving ahead, let’s talk about the seven powerful technologies that are advancing healthcare. In fact, these technologies have the power to reshape the entire industry.
- Artificial Intelligence
The first technology on the list is Artificial Intelligence. This high-end technology allows patients to get some special diagnostic tests from a distant location. You can find a lot of technologically advanced healthcare providers who perform surgeries with AI assistance.
Yes, you read it right, many healthcare service providers perform surgery via AI, which is a growing trend providing affordable access to surgical specialists. Moreover, AI also helps in giving training to new doctors concerning surgical methods and other procedures, eradicating the need for risking human patients.
Considering the total public and private sector investment in healthcare AI, it is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021. Another prediction by Accenture says that some of the top AI apps may result in savings of $150 billion by 2026 annually. In short, such benefits will accumulate incrementally from precision surgery to automated operations and protective medical intervention. Within a decade, the technology will reshape the healthcare industry as we know it.
Another technology reshaping healthcare is blockchain. It is one of the most powerful and disruptive technologies in the world. There are many industries that are adopting this technology in order to transform the way they function and perform tasks.
Along with other industries, healthcare is looking to adopt the blockchain in order to streamline the medical records and share in a secure way. One of the main characteristics of blockchain technology is security, which makes it easier to trace the paths of drugs.
Every single transaction that is added in the block is immutable and timestamped, making it easier for hospitals and health service providers to track a product and ensure the information can’t be altered.
The IBM Institute for Business Value blockchain studies more than 200 healthcare executives, including both payers and buyers in 16 countries. Sixteen percent of surveyed healthcare executives are experimenting with blockchain.
- 3D Printing
3D printing is another technology affecting healthcare because of its ability to allow customization which decreases surgery time and medical expenses. Some of the most significant include 3D-printed scaffolds or prosthetics and medical devices such as hearing aids and dental implants.
However, the true game-changing solutions provided by 3D printing will be in human tissue printing, including printed livers, hands, eyes, hearts, and ears, or building the smallest functional units of tissues. Moreover, it also can be used as surgical grafts in order to overhaul or replace injured tissues and organs.
3D printers are already being relied on to manufacture medical equipment and surgical devices, which can match a patient’s unique body type or anatomical requirements. The specialized surgical equipment is helping doctors to treat the unique requirements of the patients more efficiently.
- Mobile Health
Another technology that will revolutionize the health industry is mobile health. mHealth provides a number of ways for patients and providers to interact, allowing hospitals and rehab centers to leverage mobility and recover clinical work movements and results. Ranging from video remote interpretation to telemedicine and remote care use cases, the technology includes embracing wearable technologies.
In this mobile era, medical professionals have the ability to make clinical decisions based on telemedicine apps and wearables. Moreover, mHealth provides instant access to medical data and patients’ information from anywhere, at anytime.
Making use of mobile technologies, it will be easy to deliver the best quality medical services in rural areas as well. Moreover, wearable devices and sensors will keep individuals informed and help them monitor their health.
Approximately 13 percent of cloud services in health care are considered high-risk for security breaches and 77 percent of those people are at medium risk, according to recent research by Skyhigh Networks. Cloud services are known for offering several benefits for medical service providers (mainly in rural areas). The research also shows that more than 944 cloud services are in use across healthcare providers while 53 percent of employees make use of at least three devices at work.
Robots have been at work in the healthcare industry for the past several years. One example is The da Vinci surgical robot, which is a robotic surgical system developed by Intuitive Surgical.
The FDA approved this robotic system in 2000, and it is mainly designed to help in complex surgeries using a minimally invasive approach. Many robotic applications are emerging in the market and we can expect more such robots operating in the healthcare industry by 2025.
The simplistic telepresence robots such as those that are offered by InTouch Health, enable the doctor to move around and examine patients from a distance. Another example is of Aethon’s TUG robots, which help hospitals inside transport their pharmacy supplies and patients’ food, as well as clean trash and perform other such tasks.
- Augmented/Virtual Reality
The applications of AR and VR are applicable to both sides of the care delivery equation — healthcare service providers and patients. Patients can even take advantage of using enabled glasses for medical education in order to study human anatomy and observe and study surgeries as they were performed to lessen stress about upcoming procedures.
Another benefit of using Augmented Reality is to see through anatomical structures during surgeries in order to know the location of organs and blood vessels. Both technologies are also already in use to treat different phobias and other mental health disorders.
MedStar Health is using VR to train healthcare workers using headsets. These headsets plunge them in replicated emergency room scenarios. According to one study, 93 percent of radiologists who used 3D VR technology to check images of arteries were successful in diagnosing splenic artery aneurysms.
On a Concluding Note
Regardless of the size, it is must for healthcare companies to be familiar with the aforementioned technologies and know the impact of using them in their practices. Companies should study the impact, benefits, disadvantages, and proper utilization of these technologies to improve health services for both health service providers and patients.
Written by: Nirav Shastri
Nirav Shastri is a Sr. Digital Marketing Strategist at Space-O Technologies, a mobile app development company. He has 7+ years of experience in the Information Technology industry that inspires him to share his knowledge and experience through articles. He also spends his time reading about new technology and watches motivational videos.