In 2017, the new U.S. Presidency pushed industries to follow the ‘wait-and-watch’ approach. Unlike other factors, a change in the government always brings new compliances and strategies, which could impact business plans and product roadmaps. During the presidential campaign, President Trump’s vocal contempt for Obamacare was evident. Due to this, the healthcare industry was a little skeptical about the health IT systems investments. We experienced that healthcare IT transformed a lot since 2010, i.e. from the early days of Obamacare. Since the last two years, healthcare professionals have started talking about various new technologies such as AI, machine learning, blockchain for healthcare, etc. This is an obvious reaction from the healthcare industry, as it is usually the last one to adapt. Though everybody refers to advanced technologies for business, in our conversation, we found that the real penetration of such technology is still in the nascent stage.
Because of all these lows and a few other factors, the industry slowed down. It has now just started to open up with new product plans, new technology adoption plans, business expansion roadmaps and many other plans for growth. Let us look at the Healthcare technologies you should keep an eye on this year:
1. Artificial Intelligent (AI) and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning require enormous amounts of data to be functional. Professionals have spent a decade building such data repositories that can be fed into the algorithm. Until the end of 2017, professionals we spoke to mentioned that they felt comfortable with the tech after verifying a few use cases on basic modules to check feasibility. This year, they want to focus on taking this further by moving from pilot to real projects.
From 2000 to 2017, the majority of paper-based systems transformed into paperless electronic systems. In this timeframe, a majority of healthcare professionals were busy converting these paper-based systems to different web technologies.
In 2013, the industry sensed that the enormous amount of healthcare data could be leveraged through web technologies and utilized for better insights.
This year, we predict that the following functional areas will be in focus to implement AI and machine learning.
Care management – improve patient insights for better care management
Wellness platforms – plot patient’s health roadmap and work on disease prevention through wellness
Provider/ payer operations – to reduce the operation cost, improve relationship (satisfaction score) and time for provider and payers
2. Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Wearables
According to Gartner, “By 2020 more than 95% of new product designs featuring electronics will incorporate connected sensor component”.
Last year, various IoT, IoMT, and major tech companies launched their wearable device collections into the market. Apple has made a huge investment in the advancing carekit and research kit to track vital health stats.
‘Prevention’ is the big reason behind the soaring popularity of wearable healthcare devices. Features such as tracking patient data and identifying the patient’s risk score, and suggesting wellness activities through which a patient could lead a healthy life, are very popular
This year, we expect more hospital devices to turn into BLE devices to gather more data. One more functional area in which we can expect massive changes through IoT technologies is in homecare and hospice. IoT devices become very handy when it comes to virtually tracking a patient’s statistics.
3. Voice and chatbots
In the current healthcare market, penetration of voice bots and chatbots is low compared to other technologies. Google and Amazon are trying to grab the maximum market share through their voice bots, Google Home and Alexa respectively. This year, many tech companies will incorporate chatbots and voice bots into their existing applications. Consider the use of voice bots in the homecare and hospice setup. We saw an increased request from our customers to add a chatbot and voice bot feature in the patient portal for extra comfort and better engagement. It also does not hurt, if in the process we can gather better data for insights.
– Bots are crucial because they act as a supplement to machine learning and AI algorithms. We spoke earlier about how these AI algorithms hog data. Bots leverage focused conversations to easily gather patient data . Bots not only help to capture patient vital stats but can also gather behavioral data.
4. Augmented reality and Virtual reality
At the last HIMSS conference, Microsoft showcased how ‘Microsoft Hololense’ could be useful in healthcare. Google also re-launched the ‘Google glass’. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be very useful for physicians to view a patient’s data in a completely different manner.
This year, we can assume that various tech companies will evaluate feasibility by implementing basic functional modules. Although the technology penetration will remain low for the year, we see the tremendous potential.
In 2018, the Blockchain technologies will evolve to the next level. We are sure of one thing – by the end of 2018, we might have taken a few more steps towards matured data engineering market in healthcare industry.
Lets us know what you think of it!
Nitor Infotech Healthcare Team
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