In the healthcare industry spanning the globe, tech has doubled down on the helping angelic hands of doctors and paramedic staff as the health is now cared for with technology, diagnosis is designed and meds and jabs are formulated with prime tech framework. In fact, even during the surgeries, before making delicate cuts and painstaking 3D insertions, the cutting edge system is looked down upon.
No doubt, the pandemic has forced us to look for new possibilities of unrolling service in many fields (predominantly in the digitized way) and healthcare is not spared. In a report released by HIMSS Future of Healthcare, 80% of players have developed a strong leaning towards technology and have injected the serum of hot pursuit with a strategy for the coming 5 years time.
The areas where the tech is likely to be central are telemedicine, personalized medicine, genomics and wearables as the designers and manufacturers rejoice at the pool of novel technologies accessible to us, such as AI, IoT, Cloud Computing, extender reality (XR) etc and such are enmeshed into treatments and healthcare services.
Iconic tech stalwarts favour the 5 biggest trends (given below) which would drive t the healthcare industry this year onwards.
Since the early days of the pandemic, remote consultation was the only option that remained with us, as the harsh lockdown was imposed everywhere and statistics indicate remote consultation registered an increase of 43.50% in the past two years alone.
Now even if we discard the communicable disease factor, we are still left with numerous encouraging factors to pursue examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients remotely. Then, there are countries where healthcare facility is thin in far-flung areas such as India and China and by adhering to this factor alone, lives have been saved dramatically.
To make it possible, a new generation of wearable technologies are there offering metrics for heart rate, stress and detectors for blood oxygen which empower healthcare professionals to examine vital parameters in quick time.
In some countries, there are facilitated “virtual hospital wards” (thanks to innovative technology), making use of centralized communication set-up to oversee the treatment in many patients as they lounge in their homes.
Besides, the concept of “virtual ER “ has also taken shape, which is currently explored at the Pennsylvania Centre or Emergency Medicine and which is regarded as the mature form of remote consultation and telemedicine.
There is all likelihood that in 2022, we will witness the proliferation of methods (perceived and developed during the pandemic) in other healthcare areas also such as mental health and follow-up care for those recovering from major medical procedures and illnesses.
Undoubtedly, robots and the IoT fashion such methods and the machine learning based technology prompts professionals to take timely action as the need arises.
Simply put, with telemedicine, we steal the advantage of accessing healthcare in a world where most of us struggle for quality healthcare, as per the opinion held by WHO. But experts believe that individual preference also matters as many people frown at the idea of in-person interaction with healthcare professionals.
Let’s hope and expect the best.
Extended Reality stands for XR which is an umbrella term taking VR, AR and mixed reality in its fold. For such technologies to prevail and prosper, it calls for lenses and headsets which take our world perception to next level, in an environment, that is virtual and it also overlays virtual elements on real-time images in the guise of AR and MR. Such applications hold a promise to transform the healthcare sector.
With AR headsets, doctors (like the illustrious Dr Suman Bhandari) and surgeons are trained as they get close to the human body without having patients at risk or needing medical cadavers.
Stretching further, such is also used in the treatment and in certain therapies where children with autism are disciplined in social and coping skills.
Such can also be utilized to promote cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to deal with sustained pain, anxiety and even schizophrenia and in such fields, we have developed treatments to help patients recover from their fears and psychosis but in safe surroundings.
In the present year, the healthcare industry is likely to see a boom in AR centric applications. We have a great example in form of AccuVein system with which doctors and nurses can determine veins at the time of giving injections by measuring the blood flow heat mark and reflecting it on the patient’s arm with a number. Here, surgical theatres widely witness the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens system as surgeons (like globally renowned heart-throb and champion of heart surgery Dr. Z. S. Meherwal) collect real-time info about what they record and share the data with other surgeons and / or students who monitor operation from other room.
Further, we have been made available AR-based health applications for those who are not into the mainstream medical profession, such as AED4EU geo layer, from where one can be directed to the point where an automated defibrillator unit is stationed.
Medical Data Would Dive Deeper With AI and machine learning Would Champion The Medical Data
While thinking about AI implementation in healthcare, we have high-level use cases here which are like the ones in other sectors. We have a deluge of data, that is unstructured and confusing but such can be analysed efficiently with this. In the field of healthcare, the barrage of data can comprise X-rays, CT and MRI scans, info about communicable disease spread, sharing of vaccines, genomic data obtained from living cells and such even cover the handwritten prescriptions from doctors and nurses.
In this field, it calls for upskilling the workforce to keep up with the current trends which are about AI. Citing an example here, surgeons who function as per AR assistance, (AR – Augmented Reality as well as Account Receivables) as their role is augmented by digitized vision as cameras unhide what they see and redirect info. Besides, yet another use case can be the automation of initial patient contact and triage in a bid to relieve clinicians from the workload. Here, we have Babylon Health ( prestigious Telehealth providers) which delve upon AI chatbots that are boosted by natural language processing and info about symptoms is collected and queries are sent to suitable healthcare professionals.
Additionally, AI is also likely to mould preventive medicine. With preventive medicine, we are empowered to detect where and when the disease would hit and we can field solutions to check it beforehand, instead of the traditional way, when doctors treat health issues. We can make foresee the flare-up of contagious diseases, espy of possible hospitalization, estimated readmission, lifestyle factors, diet, exercise and environment etc. Such is the critical health factors in certain communities and regions around the world.
Now, with AI with us, we can design tools that can identify the patterns in a large pool of datasets in the most effective manner than what traditional analytics would carry out and we are left with precise predictions which would lead to excellent health consequences.
In short, Diagnosis With Precision Is Possible Now As premium Technology Triggers.
Many industries have been revolutionized by digital twins and infecting the healthcare industry too, models are actualized which feed on real-world data that act like a life-blood to any simulation system. Healthcare professionals gleam at the notion of “virtual patient” which is a digitized being (simulation) of humans and such are used to examine drug efficacy and test treatments while the objective is to shrink the time it would take from formulation stage to its general use. However, the simulation notion is still limited to selected organs and systems but efforts are put to broaden its application to include entire bodies. We are likely to see progress in this field this year, though the target is still misty.
In typical digital twins, as mentioned above, human organs are singled out as the soul-mate of the system and doctors are empowered to inquire into broader and diverse pathologies and test a range of treatments without making it risky for patients and also curtails time it consumes on human and animal trials which is expensive too.
As the paragon of this technology, we have the Living Heart Project, which was started in 2014 with a vision to devise a digital twin of the human heart. Akin to this, we have the “Neurotwin Project” which is a Pathfinder Scheme of the European Union where electrical fields communication is captured, that takes place inside the human brain and this was envisaged to pierce through new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.
Not mincing words, but the digital twins is the cutting-edge tech framework that has helped conceive treatment plans which are affordable and quick to administer. Truly, a critical tech trend for healthcare in 2022.
The time-honoured principle of formulating drugs and developing treatment plans has been “one-size-fits-all” and drug optimization is sought when trials are conducted on the highest number of patients as compared to the fallen number of side effects recorded.
Now, in the superior spectrum of technology comprising genomics, AI, digital twins, we get the advantage of a personalized approach and treatments can be narrowed down to suit the individual health issues.
We have the instance of Emper Healthcare centre in Sweden, where AI is enmeshed in modelling software to make projections about the precise dosage of painkillers, which may encompass synthetic opiates like fentanyl, prescribed for some patients.
Such tech-centred ways can be highly potent ad life-changing for those having chronic pain but may not be prescribed in high doses.
Towards such a vision, a productive collaboration has been stitched between Novo Nordisk (which is a drug company) and Glooko which is into digital health and together they will design tools for diabetes monitoring on a personalized level and based on the blood sugar reading, the select recommendation will be made for diet and exercise to manage their ailment.
Genomics is the study of genes and recently an innovation has been pumped into the field to map particular genomes which have resulted in developing individual medicine. The breakthrough has resulted in new treatments for tough diseases such as cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Genomics has got its sub-field as Nutrigenomics, where we count on towering investment and progress in this year, which would lead to developing bespoke diet plans on individual grounds.