2020 is kicking off an interesting new era in healthcare technology trends. We’ve graduated from the new technology onslaught that emerged in the 2010s, and we’re headed into a decade where the most promising tech will find its footing and start producing results in the massive landscape of healthcare.
What’s most interesting about these trends isn’t really the trends themselves, but the potential impact they’re likely to have on the healthcare ecosystem.
The chatter around artificial intelligence (AI) has been seemingly endless, but we’re finally seeing practical applications.
While it was mostly promising on the admin side originally, we’re now seeing clinicians and patients get into the game. For example, HealthcareITNews reports that we can expect to see nurses’ complex jobs augmented with AI and machine learning to help them analyze data and track patterns. From a consumer perspective, AI is positioned to help users find the personalized support they need in navigating the ever-increasing complexities of the healthcare marketplace.
Impact: Clinicians will receive much-needed support in decision-making, so they can focus on the human side of their work. Patients will also be empowered to make smarter and better-informed decisions. In terms of administration, a survey by GE Healthcare and MIT Technology Review Insights has revealed that 80% of healthcare professionals surveyed believe AI is already helping them improve revenues or will in the future, as reported by AiThority. We can expect to see continued cost savings and improved efficiency from appropriate applications of AI technologies.
Wearables Get Precise
Wearables have come a long way from activity trackers. Today’s options go beyond counting steps to keeping track of blood-oxygen levels, irregular heart beats and respiration rates.
For patients at particular risk of adverse medical events, wearables represent a wide range of possibilities. Medical-quality wearables can be equipped with baseline biometrics along with prescription drug regimens, and continually communicate with clinicians. If a patient with diabetes, COPD, asthma or heart irregularities exhibits indicators outside of normal ranges, clinicians and caregivers can be notified promptly.
Impact: These steps in the wearable space represent a gateway for increased consumerization of the clinical side of healthcare. Expect to see patient engagement shift as patients are equipped with more clinical tools and their real-time health status is more closely monitored.
Population Health Becomes Intentional
Organizations have collected astonishing amounts of population health data — we’re on track to collect 25,000 petabytes of digital healthcare data by this year, reports Managed Healthcare Executive. That said, future progress in population health will come from how that data is used. Population health program design is a maturing opportunity that will be founded on better analysis and insight into the data we’ve been collecting.
Impact: Think about the emergence of “population health intelligence” as a segment of data intelligence. It’s the first step to informed decisions and population health initiatives that produce better results.
Genomics Turn Personal
A major player on the personalized medicine front, genomic medicine stands to see serious advancements in 2020, partly powered by AI and machine learning.
For example, computers are taking over the analysis of the genes and gene mutations at the root of many medical conditions, reports Forbes. This increased speed means better understanding among the medical community of the disease’s cause and treatment, and potentially its eradication. Research projects are already taking place in the areas of cystic fibrosis, cancer and organ transplant rejection.
Impact: Expect to see advancements in the fields of oncology, infectious disease and pharmacology as genomics expands.
Digital Twins Emerge
The digital twin is a technology that we’re just starting to see take off. IBM defines the concept as “the virtual representation of a physical object or system across its life cycle.” In healthcare, this would be an individual patient pairing the virtual with the physical world, according to Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report. This enables the analysis of real-time data, treatment monitoring, behavior tracking, lifestyle modification and a proactive response to problems. Researchers are already working with the concept in the space of chemotherapeutic drugs, creating comprehensive digital models of the human brain and treating brain aneurisms.
Impact: The most significant impact will likely be on the patient experience through improved outcomes and information efficiency, as well as centering the healthcare experience on patient needs.
As we move into 2020, expect that advancements will look less like shiny new tech and more like deepening applications and long-awaited synergies finally coming to life. To address the data challenges that will come with these advancements, we encourage you to review strategies for HIT professionals to succeed in a changing industry.