Many of the country’s hospitals has adapt to the changing landscape and developments in the health care industry by expanding the scope of their services and integrating technological innovation in its operations.
By working beyond their sense of duty, the stakeholders in this industry has been able to contribute to the growth of the country while serving its clients with quality services.
In 2020, it is expected that the healthcare industry to be an $8.7 trillion industry. If we continue on this path, the medical expenses will become unaffordable for everyone to a point where medical attention is only available for a lucky (rich) few. According to economists and even medical experts themselves it would be a world neither of us wants to live in.
The use of technology in medical fields might offer the solution to this problem.
The following technological trends in healthcare are currently making a difference or lining up to make a difference in the healthcare industry. Moreover, these technologies can contribute to the current medtech innovations as well as make a difference in the coming decade.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are very groundbreaking trends in healthcare at the moment. With Virtual Reality (VR), you emerge yourself into the reality through the glasses and the tech. You become part of a world that is not real and get to practise scenarios that are digitally made up. It’s great for therapy and training sessions.
Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, is an extra layer on top of your environment. It’s an enhanced reality through technology. On top of that, it gives you more options and additional information tieing directly into the situation in front of you.
VR in healthcare is currently used as technology in medical solutions. One of the ways is during therapy sessions. For instance for people who have suffered a stroke. The software allows the patients to practice through games on their own with the supervision of a therapist. Another way VR is used is by allowing patients to swim with dolphins. With the VR tech, they swim in the pool and experience the simulation of swimming with dolphins. It has proven to have the same benefits of swimming with real dolphins at a fraction of the cost and gives people the option for this therapy even if they don’t have access to dolphins.
VR goes beyond therapy for patients. It’s also used in teaching allowing students to watch live through VR as if they were present at the surgery. Meanwhile, Augmented Reality can be used as technology in medical training. By adding AR to their classes it makes it possible to fully learn anatomy without opening a cadaver. It helps showcase how the body works through showing how everything is connected. With the connected tech, the lecturer can show what he is talking about to all the students up close.
On a smaller scale, AR will help people stay in shape in a fun way. A good example of that is the Pokémon app or the Zombies run app. It gets people moving through a game of Zombies. These small apps make working out more fun and in turn, will lower healthcare costs because people stay healthier.
When it comes to diagnostics, AI is expected to make a huge difference in diagnosing patients. It will speed up the diagnosis of patients to the point that we might be able to prevent their sickness. This will save a considerable amount of money in treatment and hospital costs. At the same time having AI make the diagnosis it will free up the doctors to help patients who are in need of the doctor to provide surgery or treatment.
Coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, AI will help shape our future MedTech and healthcare as it can also be used during clinical trials. Currently, clinical trials take a long time before producing an outcome. AI was used to find a cure for Ebola. Within a day two potential drugs were discovered, an outcome that would have taken months or even years through the traditional route.
Big data through wearables and IoT
Current activity trackers can track heart rate, heart rate variation and even oxygen saturation. All those devices sync real-time to the cloud creating a large body of data for each user. With every new release its possible to measure more vitals.
Wearables are expected to help improve diagnostics reducing the time spent in hospitals as well as help prevent illness before they happen. With the insight before it will reduce both hospital and treatment costs making for a more efficient prevention treatment.
Wearables are also utilized for specific treatments such as diabetes care. The artificial pancreas is making the life of diabetes patients easier and more normal. It measures and regulates the insulin levels automatically. It’s one of those wearable developments that aim to make life and the quality of life better.
Cybersecurity and Blockchain
With the rise of technology in medical fields, healthcare applications and storage in the cloud, security becomes increasingly important. Since applications that control medical devices are also connected to and store in the cloud, security is a big issue.
One of the technologies that will help create a safe environment for sharing and using cloud-based applications is the blockchain. With the blockchain constantly verifying itself it will become possible to own your knowledge and have this validated. The blockchain is currently most known for the cryptocurrency, but it’s used for much more applications. It is one of the technologies that is already putting a great stamp on future development.
Customisation and 3D printing
3D printing is already used to print vessels, and it’s experimenting are done with 3D printed prosthesis and even facial reconstruction. 3D printing will give the option to create better-suited solutions for the individual as well as making it easier to produce.
Currently, there are experiments done with 3D printing casts. Where nowadays getting a cast is an uncomfortable affair, 3D printing can produce a more comfortable solution for healing broken bones. The cast can easily be removed during check-ups and is breathable.
With the wearables becoming more the norm and having better analytical functions, they will produce a lot of data. Coupled with AI, big data and connected through the IoT it will become easier to predict and prevent diseases and act before people turn into patients. The analytical power of these tecnological innovations will speed up diagnosis, treatment and will make it easier for healthcare professionals to collaborate without travel.
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