There are fierce debates raging across America on the accessibility and affordability of the healthcare industry. Those concerns have grown larger than ever as COVID-19 has claimed over 2 million lives in 2020.
The future of healthcare will strongly be integrated with emerging technologies. So, in this article, we’re going to examine various technologies that are expected to be a crucial part of healthcare in the near future.
Improved cloud integration with existing medical tech
Collecting digital data has become very important for the healthcare industry, but how that data is shared between healthcare providers still needs a lot of fine-tuning. According to a 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey, over 90% of healthcare organizations are using cloud-based services to host applications, but functionality is still limited.
Smart tech and wearables
Smart technology has been making its way into healthcare, such as smart watches that monitor heart rate, but it isn’t translated into healthcare solutions just yet.
The healthcare industry is still experimenting with comfortable wearables that can provide relief and comfort to patients. For example, the FL-41 glasses by Axon Optics are specially designed to treat migraine sufferers, especially those who have a sensitivity to light.
Over the next decade, we can expect to see smart technology integrated with drug delivery devices. Insulin pens, asthma inhalers, and smart packaging for prescription medications could become commonplace. Tracking data such as frequency of usage can be beneficial to clinicians in treating patients and providing enhanced care. The ability to observe how patients use chronic therapies will further be enhanced by cloud and AI tech.
It’s estimated that investments in artificial intelligence could cost approximately $30 million per healthcare organization over the next 5 years. According to a survey of 500 healthcare executives, around 38% of employers, and 20% of health plan providers, believe they would see a return on investment in less than four years.
Around 94% of survey respondents agreed that investments in AI present a clear route to affordable and accessible healthcare.
Another survey in 2018 found that 37% of respondents were already using AI, albeit in limited ways, while a further 54% believed that AI will be rapidly adopted over the next five years.
Internet infrastructure upgrades to make healthcare more accessible
While many are aware of the blazing-fast internet speeds available to consumers, with some telecoms like Google and Verizon offering fiber-optic speeds up to 150Mbps, availability is still spotty at best. In fact, the majority of America is rural, and the national average sits at around 50Mbps.
Some states are even lower, with states like Idaho and Wyoming having an average 30Mbps. As the healthcare industry comes to rely more on technology that calls for high-speed tech, the national average will need to be raised across the board.
Rural telecom companies like CVEC Fiber have been working hard to bring affordable fiber-optic connections to rural states like Oklahoma, which will have the benefit of giving more healthcare access to rural citizens.
One way this can be utilized is for clinicians to have virtual meetings with patients via web and mobile portals. Patients won’t need to schedule office visits to have a routine chat with their clinician, instead teleconferencing from the comfort of their home.
Digital twins and medicine
A digital twin is a virtual copy of a tangible entity, whether it be vehicles or humans. For example, NASA used virtual twins of their spacecraft during the Apollo 13 mission. It proved highly beneficial, as engineers on earth were able to virtually find a solution for the problems the astronauts faced during the mission.
In the future, we may see this applied to healthcare. You may have a digital twin that doctors can experiment different treatments on, and monitor how the treatment would ultimately affect the real you. Rather than a simple simulation, the digital twin would be based on actual data from you, such as your DNA.