While nearly every industry is steeped in digital transformation, few of these efforts are likely to have a more profound impact on our lives than the digital transformation underway in healthcare. As Daniel Newman, principal analyst of Futurum Research, wrote, “Indeed, digital transformation has revolutionized every industry, but in healthcare specifically, technology is helping us live longer and lead more safer, healthier, productive lives. The impact of these top five digital transformation trends in healthcare could save lives for decades to come.”
One example Newman cited was Addison, a virtual caregiver demonstrated at CES that may soon help the more than 10,000 aging Americans who turn 65 every day. “With the help of AI, she’s able to monitor a person’s health and even recognize signs of decline—allowing older Americans to age in their homes safely while also making up for the insufficient number of caregiving humans in many communities,” he wrote.
The top digital transformation trends this year in healthcare, according to Newman, are:
Telemedicine: Telemedicine promises to slash costs by making geography irrelevant and visits more cost effective.
Artificial intelligence: “With AI, body scans and other services are being dramatically improved. Using AI and deep learning, body scans have been shown to analyze CAT scans up to 150 times faster than human radiologists, detecting acute neurological events in just 1.2 seconds,” Newman wrote.
Blockchain: Newman contends that blockchain will streamline document sharing among providers by ensuring authorized doctors and specialists can access a patient’s complete medical history. (This is the one prediction where I’m not aligned with his outlook. I have my doubts regarding the short-term viability of blockchain.)
AR and VR: Augmented reality and virtual reality will do more than help improve medical training; they can also be used to help patients recover, such as in the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
Wearables and IoT: Wearable health devices will help transform preventative care. “The data is being used for research to advance different medical fields. And with the help of the Internet of Things, it’s even being used to prevent larger health epidemics all over the world,” Newman wrote. Additionally, these devices are poised to help people fight obesity, avoid or manage Type 2 diabetes, improve cardiovascular health, and more.
Healthcare organizations have been investing heavily in technology for years. Consider this: In 2017, health IT investments reached $7.1 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2013. Hopefully, we will begin to see increased returns on these investments.