The healthcare industry, although highly regulated, has been at the forefront of digital transformation. The aim here is to enhance the level of patient care and improve services by embracing innovation.
As the industry has struggled to innovate internally, digital health startups raised as much as $11.5 billion in 2017.
Looking beyond the numbers, you can say that the market is now gaining momentum and entering a more mature phase. As a result, we here at Intersog have put together the top five trends in eHealth that businesses and healthcare organizations should pay attention to.
1. Telehealth Is Almost Omnipresent
Telehealth is now more mainstream and is one of the primary investments in the healthcare sector. While it started with providing improved access to those living in rural areas, telemedicine is also growing in metropolitan hospitals.
This phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that telemedicine technologies can be leveraged to handle cross-coverage calls to take considerable pressure off hospital staff that are overwhelmed with admissions.
This approach also provides “surge capacity” during the flu season to help operations run seamlessly. It also allows the Chief Medical Officer to monitor the nature and volume of calls and enables doctors to diagnose and treat patients without them ever having to set foot in a hospital.
According to a recent survey, healthcare delivery organizations using telemedicine reported considerable cost-savings (47%), improved efficiency and timeliness of delivery (51%), and increased provider satisfaction (58%).
2. Digital Health Interventions Are on the Rise
In an effort to boost patient outcomes and empower individuals to take a proactive approach to fix chronic or acute problems, digital health interventions are gaining traction. In fact, it’s being driven by insurance companies who see the value in leveraging this method to reduce patient readmissions and boost success rates for treatments.
Insurers such as Humana and Kaiser Permanente are leading this space by making significant investments in digital health interventions. However, it’s important to note that while the potential of these technologies has been proven, it’s still too early to ascertain if this approach to healthcare is as beneficial as people want it to be.
3. Artificially Intelligent Medical Assistants Are Here
Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence are going through a period of accelerated adoption across industries to reduce costs. So it isn’t really a surprise that chatbots have started making an appearance in healthcare.
The first ever chatbot to mimic a Rogerian therapist was ELIZA. However, this natural language processing system was developed way back in the 1960s.
Things have come a long way since then, and today, we have the following modern chatbots that can assist people by supporting diagnostic initiatives, book appointments with specialists in the vicinity, and ensure patient medication adherence:
4. Big Data & Analytics
We have been talking about the potential of big data and analytics in healthcare for many years. However, adoption has been slow when compared to other industries.
For the most part, investment in big data and analytics in healthcare has come from the insurance industry to move away from volume-based care to value-based care.
This approach can help eliminate fraud, inefficiencies, and (general) waste that has plagued the industry for decades. While this might remain the primary focus of big data and analytics in the healthcare sector, it’s expected to grow annually across the industry by 27% through 2022.
Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives found that 40% of hospital CIOs planned to implement enterprise healthcare analytics platforms this year.
Big data and analytics are also expected to enhance the following initiatives:
5. The Blockchain Is Coming to Healthcare
The blockchain is expected to have a significant impact on healthcare this year. This is because the industry is desperate for innovative solutions to address issues related to highly complex healthcare ecosystems that are data intensive.
What’s more, transactions within the sector have been historically slow, inconvenient, and expensive. As a result, in an industry where privacy and security are paramount, the blockchain has become the obvious solution (to boost services while ensuring accountability).
The blockchain has an enormous potential to achieve the following:
- Accelerate and improve research and development
- Enhance care management protocols
- Improve care delivery
- Reduce overall costs
Technology in healthcare is entering an exciting phase where we’re starting to realize the true potential of eHealth. However, as the industry is highly regulated, progress will be slower when compared to other sectors.