Although healthcare providers adopt new technologies at a slower pace than other businesses, one would hardly dispute the growth of new digital technologies in that sector. Nowadays, modern healthcare technology trends are available in various forms. They include security tools, advanced data collection methods, and more. All of them intend to increase the quality of patient care and provide high-quality assistance to all types of consumers according to their needs.
It’s no doubt that the latest healthcare trends allow us to live longer, be healthier, and lead more exciting lives. While the world keeps going digital, the year 2019 promises to be even brighter with new developments and technology solutions in different health systems. From smart hospitals to robotic surgeries, the transformation is no longer a miracle. It will become a norm very soon.
How can future trends in healthcare technology shape the industry? How will this affect the cost of medical services for patients? In 2017 US national healthcare expenditures grew to $3.5 trillion. It is about 17.9% of the total GDP in the United States. In 2018 this indicator is projected to climb 5.3%. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that healthcare spending will on average rise 5.5% annually from 2017 to 2026 and will comprise 19.7% of the U.S. economy in 2026. It is projected to reach $5.7 trillion by 2026. How can the digital revolution in the health sector help? IT specialists believe that it can save up to $300 billion, especially when it comes to chronic diseases. It means that bringing the newest technology trends in healthcare may have both financial and human advantages.
Latest Healthcare IT Trends in 2019
Today, we can observe several trends in the healthcare market that influence healthcare providers who are growing each day. In the next 12 months, the new digital environment will turn into normality across the entire industry.
Ranging from IoT solutions to cloud-based security tools, blockchain and big data, new technology trends in healthcare help to ensure streamlining clinical communications to improve the quality of patient care.
Trend #1 – AI
One of the most prospective modern technology trends in healthcare is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI technologies can simplify administrative and clinical processes for healthcare providers ensuring the formation of a more data-driven, personalized, patient-centric health and care system. According to the report of the consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, AI is expected to play a major role in medical imaging and diagnostics. The annual growth of AI healthcare market may reach a compound annual growth rate of 40% by 2021.
AI can be a game changer in the healthcare industry in both prediction and execution. Here we will name a few areas that showcase its advances in healthcare:
- Electronic Health Records (EHR) – Artificial Intelligence technology can automate documentation flows. It lowers the user burnout due to cognitive overload and time-consuming clinical documentation data input and data searching. It also makes interfaces more intuitive and easy to use.
- Robotics at hospitals – AI assistance at the surgery room can provide a great level of precision and accuracy when a competent surgeon uses the technical perfection of a robot. According to HBR, the technological advances in robotic solutions can reach a potential annual value of $40 billion by 2026.
- Virtual nursing assistants – AI based assistants can lower the increasing pressure caused by medical staff shortage. Such assistants can be used both by medical personnel and by patients. They can instantly provide information on the patient’s history as well as present and past health conditions.
- Administrative workflow – AI technologies can be integrated into the existing technology infrastructure of healthcare organizations to ease back-end processes.
Trend #2 – IoT in Healthcare System
The healthcare industry was among the first to jump on the bandwagon of the Internet of Things. According to the latest survey, patient care providers (both hospitals and private sector) appeared to be among the first IoT solution adopters.
The Internet of Things is already covered in 45 different vertical markets, which is even more than the retail and production industries. IoT tools help deal with different health problems at the same time. They also make a huge contribution to the field of medical researches and analysis. Other benefits brought to the industry by IoT may include:
- Improved communication between patients and healthcare providers
- Immediate medical response in case of an emergency
- Better patient engagement and satisfaction
- Shortened hospital stays
- Fewer readmissions
- Smart beds and other tools for improved patient monitoring
The popularity of the Internet of Things is growing. While it features driverless cars, automated orders, and payment systems, it also has some great things to offer to the healthcare field as well.
Trend #3 – Cloud-Based Solutions and Their Potential
Although there are still some lingering concerns about digital security methods in the healthcare industry, many organizations have finally started to adopt cloud-based solutions.
The Frost and Sullivan’s report mentioned above also says that the global healthcare cloud computing market revenue will reach $5 billion in 2018 and will grow by an estimated 24% from 2017 to 2022. Today’s healthcare system intends to provide value-based care and precision medicine practices. All these drive the deployment of scalable cloud platforms which must be able to integrate diverse health data sets to ensure care coordination as well as enable the use of new care models (such as telehealth or homecare) and actionable real-time analytics.
Of course, IT solutions are not always cost-efficient for providers, as pricing can become quite high. In fact, only some industry giants can afford to integrate them. On the other hand, there is still a need to generate, store, transport, and update information about patients.
This is when both public and private cloud-based platforms become useful and help to reduce costs. A simple but efficient data sharing platform may result in improved patient engagement. At the same time, clinicians will have more flexible and ultimate access to all necessary medical data.
Trend #4 – Digital Security and Ransomware
Some of you may be familiar with the term “ransomware.” It is on the rise today, making healthcare organizations and enterprises pay the price for lack of digital security. The further we go online, the more chances for hacker attacks – and the healthcare industry is not an exception. Blockchain technology is expected to evolve in healthcare. It can be used for safe operations management and patient ID.
For example, there was an article by The Los Angeles Times describing a Hollywood-based medical center that had to pay a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin. That was the only way for the hospital to regain control of all its computer systems.
Despite this case, specialists and IT developers agree that hospitals and other institutions should not pay ransom fees to hackers. Moreover, almost half of all healthcare organizations were unsure whether they would pay a ransom or refuse in that situation.
Trend #5 – Big Data and Machine Learning
Advanced technological tools can be beneficial for most of the healthcare providers. They can help bring the entire human population health to a new level. Big data and machine learning have a great potential for prediction, diagnosis, and fraud detection.
Machine learning allows analyzing structured data, such as patient-reported data, imaging, genetic data, etc., to cluster patient’s traits or to predict the probability of certain diseases. Natural Language Processing technology is able to analyze unstructured data collected from various sources. It can be clinical notes or specialized medical journals. It converts this data into machine-readable structured data which would further be analyzed by machine learning techniques to provide valuable insights for healthcare professionals.
Here innovative tools may include:
- Management and diagnostic algorithms that let organizations identify the disease, its type, and other vital parameters more efficiently.
- Implementation of GIS software that can determine the risk possibilities based on a particular geographic location.
- Comprehensive patient records brought by interoperability to support collaboration and communication between clinicians and other staff responsible for patient care.
Trend #6 – Long-Term Care (LTC)
Also known as LTC, long-term care providers are getting more and more involved with telemedicine, which has become mainstream these days. It can be a good tool to improve access to healthcare services when it comes to recently established organizations or beginners.
Delivering long-term care can be a tough challenge for providers, especially considering out-of-reach areas where the service is unavailable. Telemedicine takes care of this problem. It can give full and timely access to services related to dermatology, geri-psychiatry, and others.
Trend #7 – Secure Messaging
Text messaging is still the primary force in the healthcare industry. Almost 60% of all medical staff use text messages when it comes to work-related issues. One third receives healing related information in the form of text messaging as well.
One of the benefits of text messaging is that it allows organizations to save up to $1 million annually.