5 Top Trends in Healthcare Technology to Watch in 2019
At SAMI-Aid, we like to be just a little ahead of the curve, and we’d like you to have the same advantage. Here are some key trends in healthcare which we expect to see continue in 2019:
- Artificial intelligence are virtual reality are changing the landscape for patients and clinicians. Electrical engineer and MIT media lab professor Rosalind Picard believes that robots can be taught emotional intelligence, and that improving the communication between humans and machines has profound implications for making medical treatments more effective. For example, a new mobile app designed for patients with anxiety issues uses machine learning to analyze a person’s voice to detect mood changes and recommend changes to reduce stress. Artificial intelligence is also taking diagnostic imaging to the next level by allowing radiologists to use machine learning to detect anomalies not perceptible to the human eye. Virtual reality technology is rapidly falling in price and becoming widespread in use. It is being used in healthcare at both ends of the spectrum — from relieving pain for children with sickle cell anemia by showing them 3-D images of dolphins to training physicians to perform virtual surgeries before ever practicing on humans.
- Blockchain technologies are transforming the way health information is managed. There are myriad promising use cases for blockchain in the healthcare industry. Through blockchain, patient data can be more effectively safeguarded, clinical data can be securely shared across disparate computer systems (this is called interoperability), and transactions involving prescription drugs can be securely traced in order to guarantee their authenticity and reduce both fraud and error. Investments into this technology are still exploding. One group of market researchers expects the market for blockchain in healthcare alone to reach nearly $900 billion by 2023, and the market for clinical data exchange and interoperability via blockchain is expected to reach $400 billion in the same time frame. SAMI-Aid has its own blockchain feature in the works, and patients will be able to buy tokens which can be used to securely purchase healthcare services.
- Telemedicine technology is enabling more patients to be treated remotely. Many people are aware that telemedicine is an option for those who want professional medical advice without having to leave their home. However, fewer are aware of remote patient monitoring, “hospital at home” programs, and the expanding role of smart home technology in healthcare. These technologies “represent a radical shift from pulling patients in, to sending care out.” Medicare recently expanded its reimbursements for remote patient monitoring. The “Internet of Things” now includes many connected or “smart” health devices — such as heart monitors and blood glucose monitors — which automatically send digital health information to providers, reducing the need for patients with chronic conditions to come in for office visits constantly. Even electrocardiograms, ultrasounds, and X-rays can be performed at home through portable technologies. SAMI-Aid offers a wide array of telemedicine services including remote patient monitoring.
- Increasingly robust EHRs are improving coordination and delivery of care. EHRs are electronic health records. Unlike EMRs which are used by a single provider to track a patient’s care over time, EHRs provide a more complete health profile of a patient, designed to be shared with all providers involved. By exchanging patients’ health information electronically, providers can coordinate care, reduce errors, and make the process smoother for patients. Since about 2014, medical providers have increasingly added photos of patients to their health records. While this may raise privacy concerns and requires patient consent, it has been shown to dramatically reduce medical errors, since one of the top causes of medical errors is incorrect patient identification. Cloud storage technologies are enabling medical facilities to invest less money in IT infrastructure for storing patient data, freeing more resources for actual patient care. SAMI-Aid offers a convenient cloud storage platform to help patients securely store, access, and share their medical records.
- Human gene-editing technologies are advancing rapidly. Analysis of the human genome has already long been used to understand the mechanisms of disease in the human body, and to discover new drugs. The next great frontier of healthcare technology may be manipulating the human genome itself. Some scientists believe that gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 may even have the potential to provide functional cures for HIV and other diseases, saving many lives. Another emerging genetic technology is CAR-T cell therapy, in which immune cells are edited to include a specific gene that targets a particular type of cancer cell; two children with leukemia have already been cured with this technology. These technologies are raising new ethical questions that should not be ignored, and leading geneticists have called for a moratorium on creating gene-edited babies. However, no one can deny that these technologies are developing rapidly and will have a profound impact on healthcare.
The SAMI-Aid team is dipping its hands into several of these emerging technologies in an effort to provide patients with superior value and easier access in all areas of healthcare.