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10 Emerging Trends in Healthcare Technology for 2020 and Beyond

SyberScribe AUTHOR: SyberScribe, March 25th, 2020

Digital and mobile technologies are bringing huge benefits to the healthcare sector. By embracing these new technologies, healthcare organisations can improve patient health outcomes, be cost-effective, and provide timely care. Patients will also be able to better manage and control their health and medical information. This shows that technology can help ensure a brighter, healthier future for everyone.

So what are the latest trends in healthcare technology you should watch out for this year? Read on.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, such as visual perception and decision making. Types of AI that are being used in the healthcare industry include robot doctors, dentists or surgeons, virtual nursing assistants, and voice-to-text transcriptions. Additionally, AI is used to detect diseases and analyse information from a patient’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) in order to more accurately diagnose their health problem and come up with various ways to treat it.

Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of AI that uses algorithms and statistical techniques to enable computer systems to learn and improve with incoming data, identify patterns, and make decisions with minimal human direction. This allows doctors to make correct diagnoses, better assess risk, and offer more effective treatments. Moreover, a machine learning algorithm has been developed by MIT researchers that compares and analyses 3D scans up to 1,000 times faster than a person. This can help surgeons see if a procedure was effective while they’re still operating.

2. Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is an infrastructure consisting of connected medical devices, sensors, software applications, and healthcare IT systems that focus on medical testing, monitoring, and diagnostics.

IoT-enabled medical devices include sticking plasters that monitor your body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, and wearable devices like smartwatches and smartphones with health-related apps that track whether you’re sleeping, healthy or taking your pills, and sends alerts to your doctor when there are problems. Portable biosensors are used to analyse patient data for diagnosing health problems, while ingested or implanted sensors can discreetly measure temperature and transmit this data to your doctor. IoMT can contribute to better health outcomes.

3. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality (AR) doesn’t lose touch with our realness. When you combine AR and AI together, healthcare apps can be extremely beneficial to both doctors and patients. You can turn your smartphone camera on your body and check the location of your digestive organs, skeleton, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and so on.

In medical practice, AR can be used to help improve safety, administer injections, and assist in the performance of major operations. AR can also be used to make certain tasks more efficient, such as superimposing patient records and vital signs in real time while a doctor is assessing a patient.

Like AR, Virtual Reality (VR) can also help with training clinicians through simulation, educating patients, and aiding with treatment. For instance, Cool! VR Pain Relief uses a virtual world of landscapes and changing seasons to distract a patient from their pain and offer relief.

4. Electronic Health Records (EHR)

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) allows the patient and their doctor to have permanent access to patient data, eg diagnostics, chronic diseases, cardiac waveforms, and previous prescriptions. This can help improve the interaction between the doctor and patient for more productive delivery of care. An EHR can also reduce the number of papers you have to bring with you when visiting your doctor. Moreover, various healthcare providers can now access a patient’s medical information through a shared EHR, which is supported by a mobile app.

My Health Record is an online summary of a patient’s information, which can be shared between healthcare providers. However, this poses privacy and security concerns. To make matters worse, an audit found that the system didn’t provide appropriate cybersecurity and privacy protections. Plus, more than 2.5 million Australians have opted out of the system due to the controversy surrounding it. In the end, to opt-out or not is your choice.

5. Blockchain and data security

The huge volume of health data generated from wearables and sensors has led to a rise in new challenges like interoperability, data integrity, security, and privacy. Blockchain can help solve these challenges by placing the patient in the middle of the healthcare ecosystem and, in turn, this will help the patient to gain more control over their health data. When it comes to EHRs, blockchain can help prevent patient data from being changed or stolen by using a singular secure protocol.

6. Health-tracking apps

Health-tracking apps provide numerous benefits for both individuals and the healthcare industry. For example, they can track blood pressure, heart rate, sleep period, distance covered, and number of steps taken with accuracy. They can also let you see the data in a readable form, save the data, do a statistical analysis of the data, compare your results with standard results, and provide advice for improving your health results.

A user’s health data contained in the apps serves as a valuable source for medical practitioners. They can use it to identify and diagnose health problems, assess risk, and offer the right treatments. Additionally, doctors are often busy and see a lot of patients, so having all the information about a patient’s condition in an app can ensure a more organised and smarter approach to treatment. Healthcare professionals can also conduct medical examinations and health tests like checking a patient’s heart rate, pulse rate, and blood pressure by using health-tracking apps.

7. Therapeutic apps

Therapeutic apps, also known as digiceuticals, help to improve health and wellness. They’ve been tested for efficacy by regulatory bodies like the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Therapeutic apps are prescribed by medical practitioners together with normal methods of treatment and are clinically validated for their purpose. They can be used to help people with chronic pain, asthma, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

8. Telehealth

Telehealth puts the online doctor in your pocket. With a smartphone and app, you can search for doctors online and compare their stats, skills, qualifications, and patient reviews before you choose a doctor to consult with. Once you’ve found the right doctor, you can consult with them using chat or video call. Telehealth is all about virtual care and it can be very useful for rural and remote patients who can’t partake in a face-to-face consultation with a doctor or specialist.

9. Smart hospitals

A smart hospital relies on a connected infrastructure of smart medical devices for the purpose of improving existing patient care procedures and introducing new processes. The aim of a smart hospital is to transform patient data into insight and then act on that insight. For example, it’ll collect data, use AI and ML to analyse the data, and then make these insights available to clinicians and other stakeholders through several devices like desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

10. Robotics

Robotics are AI-assisted robots that help and support patients and healthcare professionals. They’re used in hospitals, laboratories, medical centres, aged care facilities, and therapy and rehabilitation centres.

Robotics can perform the following tasks:

  • Help with surgeries, eg position a digital microscope or cut bone.
  • Monitor patient vital signs and alert medical staff when there are issues.
  • Disinfect patient rooms and operating environments.
  • Deliver medical supplies, meals, and health records.
  • Automatically enter information into an EHR.
  • Scan health records to assist with the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases.
  • Locate a vessel and draw blood.
  • Take samples and then transport, analyse, and store them.
  • Prepare and dispense medications in labs.
  • Do repetitive tasks like performing blood tests.
  • Package medical devices to reduce risk of contamination.
  • Help paraplegics move and administer physical therapy.
  • Help with personal care and training.
  • Converse and interact with people.

Revolutionising healthcare with technology

With the use of health apps, biosensors, AI, VR, robots, electronic health records and telehealth, healthcare organisations can meet growing demand and efficiently operate to provide superior, safer, and quality healthcare services. Plus, with a patient’s own health and wellbeing being more closely accessible to them, they can better manage and control their health, reducing the need to see a doctor. In turn, it reduces the doctor’s workload, allowing them to focus on what matters most: treating and curing diseases and saving lives. On the whole, technology has and will continue to transform medicine and health for the better.

SyberScribe’s state-of-the-art medical transcription service is made possible by technology. You can use a digital recorder and an Internet-connected PC to access our hosted dictation and transcription platform and our transcriptionists will then turn your reports around in a timely manner and file them securely back into your management system.

So if you’re ready to make the most of technology in your healthcare organisation, contact us to find out more about our medical transcription services.