Healthcare has advanced greatly with the implementation of technology. As research and development move forward, whether it be disease prevention or cancer treatment, technology has also progressed into the 21st century allowing for more reliable testing, treatment, and better patient care. Here are 6 technology trends that will transform medicine and healthcare in 2020.
While healthcare has been slow to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these technologies have offered new and better ways to identify disease, diagnose conditions, monitor health epidemics, and make operations more efficient to handle the increased demands on the healthcare system. From AI chatbots detecting diseases based on a list of symptoms to machines analyzing CAT scans, this technology isn’t just smart but extremely effective. Ultimately, AI and machine learning can assist with many clinical obstacles as long as governing and regulatory groups can discover how to regulate the use of algorithms in healthcare.
Humans are naturally distrustful of robots in healthcare, but the success of the da Vinci surgical robot has already been a game-changer in assisting surgeons. With the global medical robots market expected to grow to $20 billion by 2023, the potential for robotics in the medical arena goes way beyond the operating room. Prosthetics, disinfecting hospital rooms, rehabilitation, as well as the automation of labs relies on medical robots. Perhaps one of the most promising concepts is a developing micro-bot with the ability to target therapy to specific areas of the body, such as radiation to a tumor.
Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality
Most people interact with Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) for entertainment, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the VR/AR healthcare market is forecasted to reach $5.1 billion by 2025. Training and surgery simulation has benefitted from the technology, as has patient care and treatment. Patients with dementia can retrieve lost memories with VR, while AR can improve first stick injection outcomes. In mixed reality, the virtual and real worlds are meshed, allowing patients to understand their conditions and treatment plans.
By 2017, nearly 60% of operations in the healthcare sector had adopted Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Medical Thing (IoMT) systems. In healthcare, IoT sees various devices connect through the internet, allowing for remote monitoring of patient care. This includes everything from ECG monitors and fitness trackers to smart sensors tracking blood pressure, heart rate, and sugar levels. IoT in the healthcare sector acts as a catalyst for improving real-time communication between patients and providers as well as increasing access, quality, and the cost of total care.
Telemedicine apps encompass a wide range of solutions, but its greatest success is the servicing and care of rural patients. Widely operated through video conferencing for remote diagnostics and consultations as well as conducting video training for fostering medical tele-education, telemedicine has taken advantage of existing technology to enable connectivity. The telemedicine market is projected to grow up to $16.7 billion by 2025.
Blockchain isn’t just about cryptocurrency. As blockchain technologies allow large numbers of users to faithfully and securely have access to a common ledger, all without requiring a basis for trust between parties, the healthcare sector has used this technology to allow information to be created, modified and distributed with greater integrity. If questions arise about the origin of a data point, running down the source of the information is as simple as reviewing the digital ledger. This can be used to address concerns about the drug supply chain, prevent counterfeiting, allow practitioners to quickly be granted access to medical histories and information, which ultimately leads to significant cost savings.