Regarding the amount of new directions, methods and the adoption of digital technologies, the past several years have become significant for healthcare. The industry is blurring boundaries and is ready to collaborate with all disciplines able to give it a qualitative jump-start to development. Artificial intelligence (AI), wearable devices and remote communication with doctors and medical institutions in general, are progressively becoming accustomed tools for medical process organization and human condition monitoring.
These tools can take the healthcare industry to a brand new qualitative level. One of the development directions makes medicine more personalized. This principle allows keeping the patient data needed to understand causal nexus, which in turn helps mitigate the effects of diseases and reduces their causes.
Various analytical companies and experts as Frost and Sullivan, IDC, Deloitte and others predict the next trends in healthcare technology. Most of them are already in use. Let’s examine them:
1. IoT (Internet of Things)
Internet of Things is not simply a variety of numerous devices and detectors connected by wired or wireless links and accessible to the internet. It is a close integration of the real and virtual worlds, where humanity and devices communicate. In healthcare IoT is used for:
Telemedicine is a great way to close the gap between medical workers and patients. In some cases, people do not need to visit health centers or GP. Doctors can use wireless monitoring to form sound conclusions about a patient’s health condition. Moreover, Telemedicine reduces patient expenses from visiting the hospital.
Patients assume more responsibility for their health and take part in managing their health. Wearable and connected devices help patients opt for healthy lifestyles and resolve diseases as asthma, heart arrhythmia, COPD and others. Thus, IoT is a technology helping collect information about patients and analyse it to make the user`s life more comfortable. The variety of gadgets is really impressive: smart watches, wearable continuous glucose monitors (CGM), wearable ear thermometers, neurostimulators and more.
Present-day hospitals cannot be imagine existing without state-of-the-art medical equipment. Some devices are used for saving or maintaining people lives. However, this equipment is vulnerable to various risks from power outages to system failures. Fortunately, there is a system ready to solve most of these problems. e-Alert, developed by Phillips, can predict possible malfunctioning, control medical equipment and warn medical staff about potential failures.
2. Artificial Intelligence
The role of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing rapidly, because of the necessity for precise medicine and cost reduction. AI is able to transform every area of the healthcare industry from work process control and diagnostics to process automatisation, productivity-enhancing and improvements in diagnostics accuracy.
At present, the AI market is divided among three IT-giants — IBM, Google and Microsoft. A little while ago Microsoft presented the launch of new project, Microsoft Healthcare NExT, whose main direction is the fight against oncological diseases.
Another example of successful AI implementation is the program, Zebra AI1, which is developed to read the results of medical images including MRIs for diagnosing.
The necessity of healthcare productivity improvement and reduction of routine mistakes have increased the demand for medical assistants and automatic robots. Surgical robots comprise the majority of medical robotics market. Also, they can be used for rehabilitation and physical therapy and taking care of the elderly and people with autism, as per the Swiss system, Lokomat.
Robopatients is another large group of robots-simulators used for studying by doctors and other medical staff. These machines imitate the patient fully or partly. The variety of medical robots runs the gamut from Shova Hanako 2 for dentists to a robot-woman in labor.
There are supporting robots like robots-couriers or robots for medical instruments and supplies transportation. Robots can sting from injections and gather analysis. They are revolutionizing the medical world.
One of the obstacles to healthcare transition to digital space is the security of data transfer and storage. The availability of an extensive database can be very unreliable and fragile, if it does not have adequate security. Blockchain technology is able to ensure the secure exchange of private data between patient and doctor or health centers. Furthermore, blockchain can provide optimization saving time and money and democratization of data for each patient.
The next advantage of blockchain is the advent of ICO projects, which in turn, are great solutions for interesting projects to get financing. It is a form of fundraising by way of selling a fixed amount of tokens to investors. Being a relatively new phenomenon, the ICO has become popular quickly.