The world is turning into a global village. With technology venturing into the minutest aspects of our lives and that too at a tremendous pace, the human race is witnessing a rapid shift in priorities. A striking example can be seen in how we connect with and seek healthcare today.
Imagine being alone in your house at midnight, and suddenly you experience a terrible headache. While waiting for someone to take you to the hospital may not be possible, the chances of someone jumping in to help are nearly negligible. This is where having a telemedicine application installed on your phone is nothing less than a boom. You can launch it, seek an instant online consultation with a health practitioner, and get your drugs delivered right at the doorsteps.
But that’s not it. Apart from emergency conditions and remote patients, telemedicine is popular among the urban population of users. Frankly, who has time to spend hours in the waiting queue? Not you, not anyone else when entire healthcare is right there in the palm of your hands- at a button prompt.
Given the popularity and benefits, no wonder the U.S. Telemedicine Market is expected to exceed USD 64.0 billion by 2025. Technological advancements related to mobile phones, internet penetration, and increasing demand for cost-saving in healthcare delivery are the major factors driving the U.S. telemedicine market.
The end is not yet here. Let’s highlight what telemedicine of tomorrow might look like with these top 9 trends that are reshaping it- for the better.
1. Round-the-clock Patient Monitoring with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
The increasingly diverse market for wearable devices will reach over $150bn annually by 2026 (IDTechEx). Tracking and preventing serious diseases are now possible, thanks to the convergence of telemedicine and IoT. Integrating with telemedicine is redefining how care is delivered by spanning a wide range of smart devices like ECG, EKG monitors, smart beds, connected inhalers, and more.
Above all, IoMT lets doctors focus on prevention. Instead of doing a check-up once a year, patients can get health updates more frequently. As a result, healthcare providers rely on wearable tech to access real-time health monitoring of high-risk patients.
Providing consistent communication within the ecosystem of IoT devices is the industry’s biggest challenge nowadays. The devices generate massive amounts of data, and their handling creates a problem for manufacturers reliant on proprietary protocols. Plus, the industry has yet to address the slow and failed connections. Innovative IoT development companies constantly evolve above this challenge and enable the best IoT development services.
2. Better Collaboration with The Cloud
Cloud platforms boost collaboration between doctors and patients. With the records stored in Cloud, there’s no need to build out infrastructures and hire maintenance teams.
Digital medical records are easy to access, making the consultation process super convenient. Because virtual consultations rely on text-based and video-based communication, there’s a need to deploy fast, secure, and stable WAN connections. But that’s one side of the problem.
The other is that data protection within cloud ecosystems requires stringent standards. Unfortunately, HIPAA Privacy and Security compliance is often a stumbling stone that prevents healthcare organizations from adopting the cloud. For many, securing the information within the formats required by the regulations is not simple.
To remedy the situation, some cloud providers began to cater specifically to the requirements of HIPAA. There are alternatives like private cloud systems and on-premises solutions, which allow high-level control over data.
3. Big Data Grabs Space among Top Trends in Telemedicine
Data-driven medicine is one of the key emerging trends. According to a study by Datavant, more than 4 trillion gigabytes of medical data are generated annually. The forecasts say this number will double every two years.
Tons of information comes from a variety of medical sources. This data can be crunched and turned into actionable insights by predictive analysis. Weaving big data into healthcare is rather promising:
- lowering the rate of medication errors
- creating illness preventive plans
- reducing wait time due to understaffing
- preventing patients from readmission and improving long-term care
Most importantly, due to deep insights from Big Data, patients can react to health problems faster.
Through predictive analytics, doctors can get a feasible analysis of a patient’s everyday health situation based on the information gleaned from the family record.
4. Mixed Reality Makes its Way
Digital health trends such as AR and VR are the key enablers of technological advances in healthcare. The healthcare market’s global virtual and augmented reality is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2025.
Simulated environments help relieve pain, cope with stress and post-traumatic effects, and even overcome motor deficiencies. VR gives access to activities and visual experiences that are unavailable or impossible during therapy.
Other uses of virtual reality include planning complicated surgeries, improving doctors’ training and skills, motivating users to exercise, and treating emotional health.
Here’s an example of new trends in technology: Neuroscientist Nanthia Suthana is using virtual reality to help her patients fight memory loss. She uses the VR headset to test the memory of a patient. Patients with brain implants can participate in a virtual reality task in VR that simulates the real-world environment. Scientists can record brain signals and try to understand what’s happening in the brain.
Augmented reality is a key influencer in healthcare. By imposing an additional layer of information on real-world scenes, AR screens allow surgeons access to life-saving information during emergency procedures. Students can use 3D models when they need to explore a subject quickly. AR also makes it possible for doctors to diagnose the symptoms accurately. When patients struggle to describe their symptoms precisely, AR may come in handy to better describe those symptoms.
5. Artificial Intelligence Continues to be a Disrupter
Artificial intelligence and machine learning promise to bring a lot of value to the sector. They provide innovative ways to diagnose diseases, create treatment plans, do medical research, drug discovery, and clinical trials, monitor and predict epidemic outbreaks, and increase operational efficiency during hospital peak loads.
By 2030, AI-powered systems will be widely used in personalized medicine, and five years later, autonomous AI will begin replacing human doctors. Here are some applications of AI in healthcare.
As part of assisted AI, image classification systems help the doctor conduct high-quality diagnostics over a short period. Today the efforts of radiologists and ultrasound specialists go into image classification and their description. In the future, this can be automated utilizing AI.
With risk groups, early treatment saves lives. Using Artificial Intelligence, risk patients can be identified and treated sooner.
Humanity often faces epidemic outbreaks, and emerging healthcare technologies help prevent them. The artificial intelligence system for controlling and predicting epidemics has already been used in Africa. Drones collect information about a region. Doctors can analyze the DNA of mosquitos and provide a forecast as to where and when the next epidemic will likely occur.
Further advancements in Artificial Intelligence will lead to the wide use of augmented artificial intelligence systems, which opens up new possibilities. For example, classifying MRI images at high speed without human intervention. AI also allows the creation of personalized medication and effective treatment based on the patient’s individual data, such as tests and chemical reactions. According to forecasts, AI-powered customized medicine will be available for mass use by 2030. This has greatly encouraged healthcare organizations to invest in AI development services to keep themselves resilient and competitive.
6. Blockchain is Here to Solve Many Problems
Blockchain solves the problem of accessibility, portability, and integrity of information in a complex environment. There’s always a risk of losing or compromising medical records stored in clinics’ databases. Blockchain has the potential to challenge the status quo. Using a public-private key, a patient can decide who will have access to their record. If a specialist is needed for a consultation, a patient can grant access via a system that all parties use. It will be completely transparent about who has access to the records and how they are used.
Blockchain systems in healthcare prove efficient when a patient travels to another country. When health intervention is needed urgently, doctors can access medical records quickly, without the patient providing the information orally.
As an example of new technology in healthcare, the American SimplyVitalHealth developed a system that allows the exchange of patient data between several clinics. The company has already announced forming a new, larger-scale infrastructure system.
At the same time, behemoths like IBM take it slow to adopt this technology. The challenge of industry-wide adoption of Blockchain remains with the common tech standards yet to be reached.
7. Chatbots Solve the Problem of Healthcare Accessibility
Dealing with routine queries using an AI-enabled system can help organizations realize cost-saving. You can utilize smart bots in a digital assistant role that allows practitioners to keep better track of contacts, offer appointments more readily, and easily make changes.
A chatbot can be utilized to provide friendly reminders. The assistant can even warn about potential drug interactions by connecting with other technologies, such as analytics and AI.
A popular implementation can be seen in a project at UCLA that has combined chatbot technologies with AI systems to create a Virtual Interventional Radiologist (VIR). It makes evidence-based responses to FAQs quickly available to physicians by implementing IBM Watson’s cognitive technologies and Natural Language processing methods. This allows the questions to be read and answered intuitively, making the whole process simpler, faster, and more useful for doctors.
Chatbots are already revolutionizing the world, and it has been expected that they will also become a big part of the healthcare industry. An automated system will be seen as a replacement for the expert opinion. It will be subject to the same rules in compliance with HIPAA and GDPR to feature highly in healthcare-related solutions.
With technology evolving quickly, healthcare has so much to look forward to. While these are some striking examples, there are a lot more. Which one intrigues you the most? Let us know!