The healthcare system of the future is rapidly being shaped by the technologies of today. Experts agree that healthcare technology is showing no signs of slowing down, with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud technologies all having the potential to revolutionize the clinical, workplace, and financial processes within healthcare organizations.
As such, healthcare executives need to already be laying their foundations for preparing for futuristic tech advancements in the coming decade. To illustrate this point further, recent studies indicate that investments into AI may cost healthcare organizations up to an average of $30 million per organization; however many employers and health plans believe they could potentially see a return on their investment within four years or less.
Healthcare Tech Of The Future
But how will healthcare change, exactly? Here are some forecasts regarding the upcoming technological revolution in the healthcare industry.
Improved Cloud Integration with Current Technologies
This is regarded by many as perhaps the most revolutionary change that might occur in the healthcare industry over the next few years. The current problem right now is that while more devices are collecting digital data, the sharing of that data is crucial. And that can be done more effectively through the cloud.
It’s true that the vast majority of healthcare organizations today (more than 90%) are already using the cloud to host their applications. But the functionality is still limited.
That’s because the healthcare industry is still stuck on using the cloud for separate functions. These include various clinical apps, data hosting, and backup. The industry isn’t really using the cloud in a holistic way.
Thus, healthcare organizations have their digitized data. Hospitals have electronic x-rays and medical records. There are different healthcare silos from which disparate information is coming. And when all the separate data silos are finally shared properly and the dots are connected, the improvements will be extraordinary.
More Accessible Healthcare through Web and Mobile Portals
The recent lock downs have made clear that people cannot always visit their doctor regularly – at least not in person. But clinicians can still meet with their patients through the Internet, and this is obviously better than not meeting them at all. This accessibility is crucial, especially for issues such as chronic care management.
Meeting in person with doctors has always been an issue. Many people still live in rural areas, where they might not have access to more advanced medical technology. And even people living in rural areas may have trouble visiting a clinic, especially when it’s not nearby at all.
Even the hospitals aren’t fully reliable. Many hospitals still don’t have full-scale Wi-Fi, and their cellular service may not be reliably consistent.
But within the next 10 years, infrastructure upgrades are coming. These upgrades are crucial, as they can then lead to reliable internet service, greater internet access to more people, and the greater use of web and mobile portals for meetings between doctors and patients.
Smarter Technologies for Better Therapies
You know what a smartphone is. And you’re probably aware of smart appliances in smart homes. A home can be equipped with various heating, lighting, cameras, alarms, and other devices that can work together via the web, and then can be controlled by your smartphone.
This technology is already available, but somehow that fact has not translated to smarter healthcare solutions. But that will change over the next decade, as smart solutions might finally appear.
This might take the form of smart packaging for pills, smart inhalers, biological automatic injectors, and smart insulin pens. These devices can also track patient behavior, and that data can help with patient care. Therapies might even be customized to fit the behavior of the patient.
A doctor who prescribes a tablet for diabetes may then be able to “prescribe” an app on the patient’s smartphone so that the patient will then adhere to the medication schedule. The app may even tell a patient who is suffering from side effects whether they can ignore these side effects or they have to see a doctor.
The app may also suggest diets that work best with the prescribed medications (and avoid food and drinks that might interfere with the medications). And it can also give more feedback to the patient.
Improved Customized Medical Care
With the use of technologies such as AI, machine learning, and even blockchain (the technology that tracks assets and transactions for cryptocurrency), medical care can be more personalized. This means more cookie-cutter healthcare solutions can be discarded in lieu of solutions that fit a particular patient better.
Devices such as fitness trackers and smart wristwatches are already in place, tracking individualized data. That data can then be integrated with the data gathered by other medical devices to give doctors a more complete health profile of the patient. This can help in many ways, especially for treating chronic conditions.
One example of this is when doctors are trying to determine the right dosage for a patient. This can involve several trial-and-error attempts, which can then lead to severe side effects.
But with more personalized data about the individual patient, the dosage may be more accurate right at the start. The initial dosage is usually based on what works best for the average patient, or for most patients. This time, it will be based on individualized data.
The Bottom Line
As technology advances, so does healthcare. With better infrastructure in place, more devices and apps that track patient behavior and provide personalized care, and smarter solutions for therapies, medical care is becoming more advanced than ever before.
In the next 10 years or so, expect massive changes to come about in how we manage our health. It won’t be a revolution, but more of an evolution. More people may finally have access to better healthcare, which is really the bottom line.