Due to technological advancements in the healthcare industry, the global healthcare will transform tremendously. Factors like ever-increasing population, declining healthcare budgets, and the rise of chronic diseases are putting pressure on healthcare providers and governments alike to shift to innovative technologies for providing a solution to these challenges.
Consequently, the global healthcare industry is ideally placed to drive the new technological advancements like Internet of Things (IoT). The smart devices such as the smartphone, smartwatch, and other new emerging technologies will be the major driving force of this revolution
Here are some of the technologies that could transform healthcare industry in future.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine learning
Machine learning is a form of AI that offers learning capabilities to computers without being explicitly programmed. This means that computers can teach themselves to modify according to the need i.e. when exposed to new data. With AI, there will be a huge amount of data to explore. Several tech conglomerates like Google, IBM etc. have already started to explore the potential applications of these technologies in healthcare.
These are healthcare interventions delivered to the patients through a smart device like a smartphone or a laptop. They combine medical practice and therapy into a digital form. Computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a new group of automated digital therapies that aims to provide CBT at scale with better engagement.
Smartphones are not new to us but its full potential is yet to be realized in healthcare sector. Efforts have been made to curate quality apps but with little success, for example, NHS (National Health Service) app library.
With powerful processing capabilities, Smartphones can serve as the hub for new diagnosis and treatment technologies. There are several new promising healthcare projects like the BigPD project which aims to sign up 100,000 people and develop new insights into Parkinson's disease.
With portable diagnostic devices like portable x-ray machines, we can bring cutting-edge diagnostics to our homes. With this, doctors and loved ones can provide a better quality of care by deeper and more meaningful engagement with the patient. This also leads to continuous capturing of important health related information which will eventually reduce the overall healthcare costs. Assistive devices like the smart Wheelchairs used by patients with permanent disabilities not only help them perform certain tasks but also gather important health information. This information can later be used for modifying treatment procedures.
Online communities and famous healthcare networks like MedHelp bring medical experts and patients together to share health advices and tips. They also serve as a platform for tracking health data which helps people better manage their conditions.
These kinds of new technologies offer new opportunities for our healthcare system in improving the correctness and usefulness of information. It also provides new ways to prevent, detect and treat diseases.
Implantable drug-delivery systems
It is estimated that nearly a third and a half of all medication prescribed to patients with long-term health conditions is not properly taken as recommended by the physicians. Emerging technologies could change this by enabling healthcare professionals with continuous monitoring capabilities.
In future, there could be a sensor technology that is so small and can be swallowed with drugs in tablet form. As soon as the pill dissolves in the patient’s stomach, the sensor is then activated and transmits data to a smartphone app. Patients and doctors can clearly see how well they are adhering to the prescription, though it raises questions about patient’s privacy.
These are decentralized databases that keep a record of how data is generated and changed over time. The main feature of blockchains is that they can be trusted as authoritative records without a central authority guaranteeing accuracy and security.
Though Electronic health records are commonly used, they are usually centralized. Some analysts state that blockchain technology would bring several benefits to patients and doctors as compared to other records.
Major breakthroughs in genome sequencing and its associated field will help us better understand the diseases. Genome sequencing gives us a genetic profile of a patient’s disease by which doctors can better predict their response to treatment.
Globally, several big projects are underway to understand the association between genes and health conditions. In the United Kingdom, the government is funding 100,000 Genomes project. In the US, one company promises to build a database featuring 1million genomes by the year of 2020 and it currently has 20,000 sequenced genomes.