The last decade has experienced immense growth in the Healthcare Sector, partly due to funds and finance, but mainly due to all the advancement in the technological aspect utilized. Healthcare Technology commonly known as ‘Healthtech’ is the usage of technology developed to aid all healthcare related activities or any software or tool specifically designed to provide assistance to healthcare professionals, administrators, managers in the most effortless way possible.
Healthcare accounts for more than 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many developed countries. The US’s most substantial employer is – Healthcare Sector. According to a report by Policy Advice – The Healthcare Industry was worth USD 8.45 trillion in 2018 and is expected to reach over USD 10 trillion in 2022. There are 784,626 companies in the US healthcare sector and the US is also spending twice as much as other countries are spending on healthcare.
We are all a part of watching Healthcare Technology shape right in front of us. Healthcare Technology is being utilized to provide betterment in every healthcare aspect. During the pandemic, the healthcare sector has experienced immense need for technology, where few MedTech companies have thrived beyond imagination.
The upcoming Hugo robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) system by Medtronic will target the barriers to adopt robotic-assisted surgery (RAS). Zimmer Biomet, plans to launch the Persona-IQ, a next-gen version of its successful Persona Revision knee implants that will incorporate the Canary Health Implantable Reporting Processor (CHIRP) sensor. Abbott received FDA clearance for i-STAT™ Alinity™ TBI plasma test, designed to help clinicians evaluate individuals with suspected mild TBIs, including concussions.
Healthcare and Technology: A Symbiotic Relationship
Relationship between technology and healthcare is now intertwined. Technology has catapulted healthcare into better care and subsequent results, improved patient experience and greater administrative and management efficiency. With technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI) in operation, few regular issues that existed earlier like ‘patient waiting time’ are decreasing and ‘staff efficiency’ is increasing.
A mutual symbiotic relationship is formed between the two domains, where with the help of technology new discoveries can be made in the field of medicine for the sole purpose of helping people.
Certain areas where this technology is working hand-in-hand with healthcare are:
- Unsustainable healthcare systems into sustainable ones
- Equalizing the relationship between medical professionals and patient
- Provide cheaper, faster and more effective solutions for diseases
Healthcare Technology Utility in Different Platforms
From the very beginning of management, administration, to fine and delicate discovery of drugs, and research or surgery, technology is being used at every level and on every platform in the healthcare sector.
- Management & Administration
With advanced technological softwares and tools in hand, it is a lot easier for administrative staff to streamline patient flow from accurately calculating time of waiting to predicting peak busy hours for staff scheduling. Apart from that there are new applications that can deal with patient preliminary questions and in order to efficiently appoint patients, prioritize scheduling.
A major problem dealt in the healthcare sector is incorrect diagnosis. Many tech related tools are being developed to create applications or devices with higher accuracy using technology like genetics and pathology.
- Drug Development
Certain procedures like targeting a chemical combination that might be optimum to create a drug, reducing human time is crucial aid to drug discovery. Nowadays this process is achieved by AI and machine learning, leading to immense support in drug development.
Virtual and Augmented Reality Programs are aiding doctors by making patients see a complete technique of how a surgery is performed. Robots are helping in operation theatres, ranging from a tiny bot that crawls the surface of the heart to a giant arm that acts as an extra set of hands during procedures.
Development in Healthcare Due to Technology
Technology has a vast potential to increase the quality of healthcare by advancing research and development related aspects. It is now considered to be the driving force behind the improvements observed in the healthcare sector. The most promising healthcare technologies include:
Utilization of machine learning algorithms and software to design relative healthcare for a medical condition is Artificial intelligence. AI is able to mine records, design treatment studies, find out targets of drug delivery in a way more drastic manner than a human can. It analyzes clinical notes of patients, diving deep to understand improving methods, and better results for patients. Supercomputers are one such example.
New tech-fuelled devices with the focus of making patients the point-of-care, factors like weight management, heart rate, pulse rate monitoring, stress level management and observing overall fit and energetic state can be managed by a certain type of device.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality is the ability to view inside the human body, like patients can watch operations being performed or future surgeons can be trained to practice operations by Virtual Reality. It is proven successful for patients in pain management like helping women to get through labor pain by visualizing soothing landscapes
Augmented reality integrates digital information with the user’s environment in real time so that the user does not lose touch from reality.
- Genome Sequencing
Analysis of an entire genome of a functional living organism mainly focusing on identification of rare and inherited diseases, tracking disease outbreak and mutational characterization.
Scientists are developing nanoparticles to target tumors. Nanodevices are used to improve medical imaging and some nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems are currently being used in research and studies.
Robots provide aid in surgery, streamline hospital logistics, and enable providers to give more direct attention to patients. New age robots include pharmabotics, disinfectant robots or exoskeletons.
Healthcare Technology – Benefits, Challenges and Future Perspectives
Due to the advanced technology that healthcare is dealing with, immense change in healthcare applications is evident, processes like patient care coordination is improved by creating specific apps, improvement in population health initiatives by accessing large amounts of patient data and also improved patient education, communication and medical adherence.
It is clear that more data can help resolve many issues in the healthcare field, but it can also lead to more privacy breaches causing an alarming concern of challenges faced by technological usage in the healthcare sector.
Several unique challenges faced by HealthTech include increased storage due to 2D and 3D collection of images, cyberattacks, vulnerability to viruses, advanced technology is costlier than traditional care, mobile devices with information can be stolen or hacked, next generation payment models are not easily understood, interoperability of consumer’s data sometimes lead to a mess, awareness and knowledge of technical applications is limited for now.
But all the challenges can be turned into opportunities if worked upon carefully. The benefits of technology are limitless and certainly have the upperhand, advancements like Electronic Health Records, where patients can view their record with a single click leading to an eased-out process of acknowledging any error; Telemedicine/Telehealth, is a new approach of providing communication through computers to remote areas with lack of access to healthcare facilities; Remote Health Monitoring System, health monitoring at home can lead to cost reduction and lowering of unnecessary visits to the hospital. Patients having heart diseases can send automatic regulatory data using Pacemakers. Many aged people and patients with chronic illnesses can be from a distance using these monitoring tools; Electronic Incident Reporting, allowing healthcare providers who are involved in safety events to voluntarily report such incidents. As far as money and funds are concerned, cost transparency should be implemented that can solve the pricing issue.
For the longest time physicians, healthcare support providers and executives have been dissatisfied with the lack of technology experienced in the healthcare sector. But now, Healthcare Technology is being developed to revolutionize the field of healthcare. The rate of recent innovations is growing at an exponential rate and major exemplary breakthroughs are being established.
What lies ahead?
The innovation is robust in the healthcare sector with new developments every other day. There is not a single doubt about the fact that due to technology countless patients with no hope of being saved, were given a second life and the quality of healthcare is increasing day by day.
Future technological innovation is going to keep transforming healthcare and technological innovations in new drugs and indications, new devices, new formats of treatment for healthcare will drive the healthcare market. Technology in healthcare will always advance and there will be new and exciting solutions to existing medicinal problems.
The power of technology is gigantic and despite all the challenges, immense advancement, various benefits, and new discoveries occurring on a daily basis, the healthcare sector will only take a leap forward with technology in hand for the coming decade.
Technological revolution in Healthcare will mark the start of this new decade from 2021 and experience a heightened rise in its application in the nearest future.