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Healthcare Technology Innovations That Are Expected To Make It Big This Year

The year 2018 was quite significant for the healthcare technology sector. It witnessed robust digital healthcare tech innovations, policy shifts, unexpected mergers and partnerships. Now that we have stepped in a brand new year, it’s time to look at the healthcare technology predictions and innovations for 2019. Although, the industry largely remains unpredictable, there are certain trends that the experts predict will make huge strides this year. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Artificial intelligence will find greater adoption

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have shown a significant growth in the last few years. According to a report published by Stanford University, investment into AI startups has increased 6 times since 2000. This year too, it is expected that we’ll see significant increase in investment from the private sector in this technology. With their ability to eradicate low-value administrative tasks and automate many processes, AI and Machine Learning are surely going to make it big this year. In healthcare sector, their most ‘real world’ applications will include – image processing to detect abnormalities that often go undetected by human eye. Another very important use would be analysis of medical charts to identify high-risk patients. Overall, it can be said that AI and machine learning will move beyond the hype this year and find more practical use cases.

2. Sophisticated Analytics to gain deeper insight into the data

We have an enormous amount of valuable healthcare data in healthcare systems.  However, the valuable data is of no use unless some information is extracted from it. That’s why better analytics are required to gain deeper insights into the data. In 2019, it is expected that analytics tools will become more sophisticated, which will help healthcare professionals make improved clinical decisions and drive greater efficiency. Significant efforts are being put in analyzing and aggregating large, diverse data sources, but the main challenge will be to find ways to apply the information extracted to make a difference in real-time delivery of patient care.

Today’s shifting healthcare landscape demands proactive approach in patient treatment and care. Therefore, the primary goals of the healthcare organizations will mainly focus on identifying and determining risk in populations and identifying and using the best treatment pathways for populations using data analytics.

3. Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) will improve long-term patient care

Electronic Medical Records have already been adopted by healthcare systems across the globe. As per statistics, in 2017, nearly 86 percent of office-based physicians had adopted EMR in the US. Although, EMRs have been adopted already, this year we might finally see the benefits of having medical records available digitally. Electronic Medical Records not just ensure that the healthcare providers have all patient records immediately available to them, but they also enable the healthcare providers across the countries and the world to communicate and share the information. Now that many healthcare providers have switched to Electronic Medical Records, in 2019, it is expected that we’ll see more ways in which this technology can improve long-term patient care. Some ways it can revolutionize healthcare systems include – identifying patterns in patient care; making predictions based on patterns and figuring out the most effective treatment plans. Although EMRs have found a place in healthcare systems, we have just started. A lot of potential and applications is yet to explored to make healthcare for streamlined and efficient.

4. Blockchain will find commercial availability

While Blockchain is currently focused in finance sector, it is predicted that it can be used to make storage of medicine-related data more secure. Some other ways it might make its way in the healthcare sector this year include:

  • To track the flow of drugs and supply chain management: DSCSA (Drug Supply Chain Security Act) has imposed a set of compliance requirements for drug supply chain participants for the period 2013-2023. It has stipulated the implementation of bar coding of drugs. After bar coding the data will be stored in the blockchain. Blockchain will then be used to provide clarity on transactions and track the flow of drugs and supply chain operations across borders.
  • To prevent counterfeiting of drugs and medical devices: Novartis has been experimenting with blockchain technology since 2016 to prevent counterfeiting of drugs and devices and track all the participants in the supply chain. It has started Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) which aims to partner pharma industry with blockchain companies.
  • To safely store critical healthcare data: Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi are working to leverage the benefits of blockchain for protection of healthcare related data.

This year Blockchain might finally move beyond “hype” to real world commercial use across the industry. Forbes predicts that, 5%-10% of healthcare Blockchain applications will finally be commercially available this year. Companies will continue to expand their current use and more efforts will go into figuring out how blockchain can be used in the healthcare space.

5. Augmented and Virtual Reality for far-flung nursing and medical students

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have already found many applications in the healthcare sector. For example, they are being used by neurosurgeons to remove tumors safely. They are even being used to view blood vessel map in real time. The future of AR and VR in the healthcare industry is believed to be in enhancing patient care and improving the techniques of education in the healthcare sector. Augmented and Virtual Reality can be used to teach anatomy and physiology to far-flung medical and nursing students. Operations will be recorded or live streamed in Virtual Reality to enable the students observe from the vantage of experienced surgeons.

6. Stroke Diagnosis using Visor

Rapid diagnosis is important for the treatment of hemorrhagic strokes, in which blood escapes from a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. If the bleeding becomes uncontrolled, it can lead to swelling, brain damage, and even death in some cases. Visor is a new technology available to the healthcare professionals which can be used to detect bleeding in the brain. It is very efficient in pre-hospital diagnosis. It speeds up diagnosis and reduces the treatment time, thus saving precious lives.

7. Advancements in robotic surgery

In the operating rooms, robots are being used by the surgeons for extreme precision surgeries. Advance robotics has also enabled shortest and least invasive surgeries. Minimally invasive robotized surgeries have shortened recovery time, reduced post-surgical pain, and improved the surgical outcomes for patients. 2019 will see emergence of next-gen robots that will do more high precision work, like – dispensing gene therapy to the retina, doing surgery on remote patients.

8. Prosthetics, orthopedic implants and other patient care products using 3-D printing technology

Using 3-D printing technology, medical devices can be made to exact patient specifications. The devices made using this technology are more comfortable, provide better performance outcomes and are better accepted by the body. The most significant work which is expected to make it big in 2019 includes external prosthetics, orthopedic/cranial implants, and customized airway stents. The technology has so far only been used for complicated heart surgeries but the other products are expected to be available very soon this year.

Wrap Up

Overall, it can be said that 2019 and the coming years will be more focused on enhanced patient experiences, preventive care, big data analysis and lowering the cost of patient-care. With cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and 3-D printed patient products, the possibilities are endless.

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