Technology has been the greatest phenomenon in transforming industries and behaviors across the globe. The healthcare industry has seen technology inspire progress and innovation.
The Healthcare IT Market is expected to be $390.7 Billion by 2024 and is growing at a faster rate than the GDP of most countries. It costs nearly $250 Billion to process 30 Billion healthcare transactions each year. The Healthcare expenditures for the U.S is projected to be $5.4 Trillion by 2024 representing an average annual rate of 19.6% of GDP.
Healthcare is a complex system and is resistant to large-scale change yet susceptible to the “butterfly effect” — where even small-scale inputs have dramatic effects. Though the industry debates about future trends in healthcare, the following are the most disruptive trends according to us.
Trend 1 — Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT has benefits that make healthcare more reliable, efficient and fast. IoT enabled devices make remote monitoring possible, unleashing the potential to deliver superlative care. The global IoT healthcare market is projected to reach $534.3 Billion by 2025 expanding at a CAGR of 19.9%.
Following examples show what healthcare has become capable of — Thanks to IoT.
- Track Real-Time Location — Medical devices and apparatus like wheelchairs, scales, nebulizers, defibrillators, monitoring equipment, or pumps are being fixed with sensors and located easily with IoT. There are other IoT devices as well that help in monitoring the environment.
- Wearables are often used to monitor user’s health on medical conditions like heart rate, blood pressure, calories burned, etc. The wearable industry is expected to be 240.1 Million in 2021.
With enhanced patient data and real-time tracking, the hopes of efficient care are higher than ever. Now, it’s for healthcare providers to leverage the technology in the best possible way.
“Technology has helped improved healthcare over the years. From connected devices to implantable solutions, innovation in the tech industry is saving lives and helping doctors with data, analytics and improved decision making. Am looking forward to seeing technologies like 5G, Sensors and Devices help implement newer programs and services that meet the needs of the community.”
Kulin Tantod, Director of Medical Informatics — Neighborhood Healthcare
Trend 2–3D Printing
3D Printing is used to produce physical objects from digital files. From visualizing anatomy in 3D to holding a 3D-printed model of a human heart, we got much closer to patient-specific care. The global market for 3D Printing is expected to be $2,319.5 Million by 2020.
Due to numerous technological innovations, 3D printing is witnessing significant growth and here are some state-of-the-art developments in healthcare.
- 3D Printing for Prosthetics helps create a more personalized version for every individual. There are some futuristic advancements to make them ‘think and feel’.
- Tissue Engineering primarily helps to recreate the damaged tissues. This is taking the industry by storm because it is letting the medical professionals recreate intricate body parts which were not possible in the past. Here are some interesting use cases.
- Surgical Tools are undergoing a huge makeover. 3D printing helps personalize these tools that aid doctors in precise implementation of incisions and implantation of medical hardware.
3D printing is disrupting healthcare with its applications that can be personalized at half the price and time of the traditional manufacturing methods. However, there is much more to innovate — let us wait and watch.
Trend 3 — Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP is a specialized branch of AI focused on the interpretation of human-generated spoken or written data. NLP market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.1 percent to become a $16 Billion market by 2021.
Below are the top use cases of NLP in the healthcare industry.
- Clinical Notes can grow to several feet high stack of folders, which are obviously hard to analyze. In such cases, NLP powered system structures the data, provides a summary and retrieves the right information from the stack of medical jargon.
- Forecast Complications — NLP along with predictive analytics can be deployed to improve the diagnosis process and identify high-risk patients immediately. This helps in having the complete data at hand and fast which is particularly crucial in the emergency department.
- Transcription by Speech Recognition in helping to summarize narrative speech to mapping data elements. This is then converted from the machine-readable form into natural language for reporting and educational purposes. Example — IBM Watson Health
NLP will be the key driving forces in the future for better clinical decision support and patient health outcome.
“Technology and Innovative Devices/Sensors will enhance experiences to healthcare providers & payers and also help build value-based care delivery models. Machine Learning embedded with Practice Management systems will change the landscape of Provider reimbursement.”
Ash Mehta, CEO — PatientClick, Inc.
Trend 4 — Machine Learning (ML)
Broad use of ML for healthcare is still down the road, however, there are dozens of ML models in production, development, and planning stages in healthcare with algorithms that learn from data. Data in healthcare refers to every possible data — right from diagnosis, treatment, medical procedures to image analysis.
Below are some innovative ML use cases.
- Virtual Nursing is revolutionizing the way we seek healthcare. Currently, ML powered chatbots are interacting with patients more frequently than human nurses. They also serve as intelligent gatekeepers of information between patients and doctors. AI-powered virtual nursing assistance is saving $20 Billion annually.
- Image Analysis is largely gaining interest in the field of pathology. ML can aid radiologists to identify the subtle changes in scans, thereby helping them detect and diagnose the health issues at the early stages. For instance, we have ML powered Google’s algorithm to detect cancer.
- Personalized Treatment is creating a different stance altogether with the help of ML. We have 67% of electronic health records in this industry which means better access to medical data. Now, with the help of ML applications, health care providers can detect and have better treatment plans. For Example — IBM Watson Oncology
Currently, only a handful of healthcare organizations are testing waters of ML and are certainly recording the way towards an exciting future.
“The confluence of many industry shaping technologies such as 5G, AI, Blockchain, IoT, Edge Computing and others will have a significant disruptive impact on industry verticals. Given that there so many inefficiencies in the healthcare supply chain, it is ripe for change.”
Chetan Sharma, CEO — Chetan Sharma Consulting
Trend 5 — Blockchain
Blockchain Technology is rapidly transforming the healthcare industry by placing the patient at the center of the ecosystem. This helps health information exchanges by making electronic medical records (EHR) more efficient and secure. It is expected to exceed $1,636.7 Million in the healthcare market by 2025.
Here are some innovative use cases that are being disruptive.
- Pharma Clinical Trials — Blockchain can record clinical trials real time which assists in more comprehensive and accurate data for population health research. This enables patient matching, monitoring and validating data without any data fraud.
- Drug Fraud is a major issue in the pharma industry. Blockchain keeps track of the entire manufacturing chain of each drug. Every new transaction is added to a block which is tracked, timestamped and is immutable — hence, it cannot be tampered with.
- Healthcare Billing faces several challenges. Among them, billing inaccuracies and frauds are the major issues. Blockchain perfectly addresses these issues with its decentralized records helping payment processing and recording methods and preventing forged transactions.
Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt the market and save billions of dollars by optimizing current workflows.
DATA DATA EVERYWHERE!!
There is only one factor that is going strong among all the disruptive trends — DATA. There is a massive volume of data being generated all the time. The big data industry will be worth $77 Billion by 2023. More than 2 Quintillion (2,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) of data is created each day.
One way to leverage this staggering amount of data is Predictive Analytics. Typically, historical data is used to build a mathematical model to capture important trends. The predictive model then uses current data to predict future action or to suggest actions that need to be taken for optimal outcomes. Its global market is projected to reach approximately $10.95 Billion by 2022.
Google Flu Trends (GFT) had been an interesting use case that provides estimates of flu/influenza activity for more than 25 countries. The basic idea was to monitor millions of users’ health tracking behavior online, Google search queries are analyzed to reveal if there is the presence of flu-like illness in a population. Though GFT is no more publishing, we have Twitter and Instagram working on similar lines to predict flu almost 6 weeks in advance.
However, the data explosion has its own challenges. Data privacy and Connectivity are the most challenging of all.
Healthcare records are highly valuable because of their rich information on personal, medical and financial data. Hence, the healthcare industry has the highest risk factor when it comes to data theft.
Statistics show that data breaches have only increased in this industry with each passing year. Last year, 2.65 Million patient records were exposed.
With an outbreak of scientific and technological developments, we are connected everywhere we go. Being connected increases communication and host of other entrepreneurial activites. 3.65 Billion people are connected globally. While in some areas of the world, the possibilities of being connected are endless, in many different parts of the globe, we cannot even access the internet. There is still a population of 4 Billion that is not connected and hence cannot be provided with the emerging connected healthcare.
We are thankful to the tech giants like Google, Facebook, SpaceX, and Blue Origin, who are battling it out to connect the entire globe. For instance, Google is working on FASTER (trans-Pacific undersea cable link), that carries 60 terabits per second.
The healthcare industry is being disrupted by various emerging technologies. With the millennials looking out for a healthier lifestyle, there is an outbreak of technological gadgets.
These changes have increased the average lifespan of human beings to 80 years. There is a lot of research that is being done on ‘anti-aging’ — Google’s Calico is working to harness advanced technologies to understand biology controlling lifespan.
Technology has had a massive impact on our everyday lives in the past few decades. Looking forward to seeing it reach every facet of mankind in the coming era.
This post was written by Asokan Ashok, the CEO of UnfoldLabs. Ashok is an expert in driving customer insights into thriving businesses and commercializing products for scale. As a leading strategist in the technology industry, he is great at recommending strategies to address technology & market trends. Highly analytical and an industry visionary, Ashok is a sought after global high-tech industry thought leader and trusted strategic advisor by companies.
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For any comments or discussions, please feel free to reach out to Ashok or UnfoldLabs at “marketing-at-unfoldlabs-dot-com”.