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4 Healthcare Technology Trends to Watch

Technology

Nov 22, 2021 - 5 minute read

2061 Blog Healthcare Tech Trends 416X300
Małgorzata Caban Senior Content Marketing Specialist

She specialises in translation, writing and knowledge management. In her work, she combines her passion for languages with an interest in technology. Privately, she was part of a team of volunteers responsible for the Polish translation of “Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear” video game.

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As we begin to look forwards and reflect on the changes that have taken place throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, the medical sector continues to transform in order to provide patients with the care they need. 2021 has seen many new technology trends which aim to respond to the industry’s need for rapid, yet accurate data processing and optimised service delivery. In this article, we’ll provide an introductory overview of four trends which have made their mark across the sector and, without a doubt, will keep their position in the foreseeable future.

1. The Power of AI

We’re surrounded by Artificial Intelligence every day — in our smartphones, social media, our car and even the software within our household appliances. AI is being leveraged in many industries, and healthcare is no exception. In fact, AI presents immense potential for medical services where process efficiency can impact people’s lives.

In diagnostics, AI is used to process large volumes of patient data, which includes the analysis of medical images from MRIs, CT and PET scans, X-rays, mammography and other sources. AI solutions support specialists who deal with an unprecedented and ever-increasing amount of data, e.g., by reviewing and comparing millions of images to enable the rapid detection of symptoms and flagging the images of concern. This accelerates the diagnostic process and helps doctors catch the most urgent cases without delay. Medical professionals can also help further improve the reliability of the AI solution by confirming whether its initial analysis was correct. This way, with feedback, the software learns to recognise additional symptoms and makes more accurate diagnoses.

Another application of AI in medicine drew more attention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need to produce successful vaccines. The vaccine development process involves the analysis of vast quantities of clinical trial data and deciding which parts of the virus should be targeted. AI algorithms can expedite this process and improve the vaccine’s chances for success. They can also be used to predict how the virus may mutate and how such changes can impact the effectiveness of the vaccine.

The use of artificial intelligence is likely to grow across the entire healthcare industry, providing more advanced diagnostics, drug research and discovery and highly personalised medical care. The latter may include algorithms which can detect serious conditions like heart disease or cancer as well as robot-assisted surgery and recovery therapy.

2. Virtual Care

As the pandemic continues to take its toll across the world, virtual care solutions come to aid to patients and physicians, helping them bypass the restrictions for face-to-face meetings. According to Forrester, the virtual care market will reach $43 billion in 2021. Even though the rise in the telehealth trend was forced by the pandemic, people quickly found additional advantages in having access to medical services at a click of a button. According to SPH Analytics’ consumer telehealth survey, 60% of patients preferred virtual visits to in-person appointments. Digital health portals offer a variety of self-service functionalities to patients and an excellent overview of patient data and medical history to doctors, helping them make informed decisions regarding the diagnosis and treatment.

Virtual care also includes more advanced solutions like remote patient monitoring (RPM). RPM leverages digital technologies to capture patient data outside of healthcare institutions. The data is transmitted to medical professionals for remote assessment and diagnosis. RPM can be used to monitor patients with severe, chronic or infectious diseases. It ensures that they are provided with the care they need regardless of their physical location.

Furthermore, wearable devices contribute significantly to the quality and convenience of remote care. This technology combines hardware, predictive analytics and mobile apps to improve diagnostics and disease management. Patient data collected by the devices can be shared with healthcare providers in real-time. Doctors get access to information such as blood pressure, heart rate or sleep quality which can provide a better picture of their patient’s general condition. Patients can also monitor their metrics and see how their daily habits affect them — which could empower them to take charge of their own well-being.

3. Cloud Technologies in Healthcare

Leveraging cloud solutions to facilitate better and faster decision-making as well as improving data security is a definite digital trend in the healthcare sector.

Medical institutions have to manage extensive amounts of sensitive data, including patient records, history, social and medical information. The storage of such vast quantities of data on-prem requires maintaining expensive systems whose capacity is still limited. Cloud services provide a convenient alternative to legacy infrastructure. Cloud solutions guarantee flexibility and scalability — this means the infrastructure can be easily adjusted and organisations only pay for what they need. Moreover, the cloud supports areas such as disaster recovery, backup, availability and security.

In diagnostics and other decision-making processes, the cloud’s ability to process information in huge sets of data quickly and accurately presents an undeniable advantage. Cloud computing applied to analytics can substantially reduce the number of medical errors. In addition, the insights gathered from cloud computing can help doctors predict possible risks and threats before they even appear. The cloud allows everyone involved (physicians and patients alike) to access important information at the same time, providing them with a broader perspective and simplifying their cooperation.

Cloud solutions enable healthcare providers to be more integrated and to safely store and process large volumes of data. This translates into more efficient care and improved patient satisfaction.

4. Interoperability Is a Must

With so many technologies being applied across the spectrum of healthcare services, one can’t help but notice the need to connect these different systems and allow for the exchange of data between them. Interoperability, the ability of software to share and make use of information, has become crucial in modern healthcare where multiple solutions are utilised to process patient and institutional data.

The digitalisation of medical services has accelerated in recent years (COVID-19 being one of the reasons). With a multitude of new technologies in place, healthcare software development specialists need to consider several factors to build a competitive solution. Patients use the services of different healthcare providers; thus, their respective systems must be compatible enough to share relevant data on medical history, medications and procedures. It’s advisable to follow domain and technology standards to securely expose information to other software solutions. Increased system interoperability and proper data protection can boost patients’ trust and improve their experience with medical organisations.

Interoperability plays a key role in other aspects of healthcare as well. For example, the ability of various electronic health platforms to exchange information can be critical to tracking the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations. Accurate record-keeping can help monitor vaccine distribution on a regional level and support individuals in scheduling their appointments and switching providers if necessary.

With interoperability becoming crucial to the success of many healthcare initiatives or simply supporting patients in the best possible way, this trend is bound to continue in the healthcare sector beyond 2021.

Summary

The healthcare sector has been subject to many rapid changes and forced to embrace the latest technologies at an accelerated pace. The need for increased efficiency of medical services combined with the limited availability of in-person visits resulted in the emergence of new technology trends which aim to address the present-day challenges. Medical institutions have to keep up with those trends to successfully provide the services their patients require. It may be difficult to implement too many changes at once, but leveraging technological advancements can positively impact any healthcare organisation and its patients.  

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Małgorzata Caban Senior Content Marketing Specialist

She specialises in translation, writing and knowledge management. In her work, she combines her passion for languages with an interest in technology. Privately, she was part of a team of volunteers responsible for the Polish translation of “Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear” video game.

See all Małgorzata's posts

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