Digital transformation is no longer an emerging trend but a reality. According to Tech Pro Research, 70% of companies have already created a digital transformation strategy or are working on one actively. It is no secret that digitalization has an enormous impact on many industries today, and the healthcare industry is not an exception.
What is a digital transformation in health industry?
The digital transformation in healthcare is a fundamental change through innovations that transform the roles, competencies, collaborations, and processes within the industry. The digital transformation has an impact on all aspects of the healthcare system. This ranges from medical practice to patient logistics management, from institutional framing of the healthcare system to public health policies. Online pharmacies, AI-enabled med-devices, electronic health records, telemedicine – are just a few examples of how digital transformation is disrupting the healthcare industry. It is already apparent that due to digital transformation the future of healthcare will be more automated and decentralized and will involve more active, more productive cooperation of people and intelligent machines.
At the same time, digital transformation in healthcare is not all about new technology trends. Like in no other industries digital improvements in healthcare are aimed at creating the additional value – both on the individual and public level. Digital transformation is an ongoing journey that will help to build a sustainable healthcare ecosystem with high-quality medicine, efficient and resource-saving processes, and patient-centered institutions. It is not only about technical progress but also about significant cultural, economic and mindset change. But where do we stand today?
Biggest Trends in Digital Health
According to Statista’s forecast, the global digital health market will grow to 206 bln dollars by 2020. It looks like healthcare, once a very conservative industry, is ready to change its course towards digital innovation. What are the most progressive trends that define the digital transformation process in healthcare?
Healthcare Trend #1: Telemedicine
Telemedicine is probably one of the biggest drivers of digital transformation. The telehealth tech is growing rapidly and attracts more and more attention from both patients, medical institutions and investors. According to Statista, the number of telehealth patients increased from 1 mln to 7 mln people just over the past 3 years. And DataM Intelligence foresees that the global telemedicine market will reach 113.1 bln dollars by 2025.
But why telehealth is on the rise and what benefits does it bring? First of all, telemedicine makes it much easier for patients to get access to the doctor. It ensures that those who need medical help receive it even if they live hundreds of kilometers from the clinics. Moreover, telehealth provides patients with 24/7/365 doctor support, saves time and money, as well as make patients visits to the doctor less stressful. Telehealth technology empowers medical practitioners with new opportunities for cooperation through different channels, thus maximizing the use of their skills and resources. Companies also can benefit from telehealth if they introduce telemedicine programs for their employees.
Trend #2: Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare
Today AI is being already used for numerous healthcare purposes such as medical diagnosis, product development, creation of a treatment plan, and workflow optimization.
Artificial intelligence has become a good instrument for diagnosing diseases which are difficult to recognize due to a high number of different symptoms. US Food and Drug Administration has already permitted the usage of AI-based devices for diagnosis of diabetes-related eye diseases. Another example of AI use is medical research. In particular, Artificial intelligence is used to foster new drugs development. AI helps to analyze large amounts of data thus saving a lot of time and money in resource-intensive process. For example, IBM Watson AI system helps medical specialists both in search of treatment of cancer and the creation of the patients’ treatment plans. AI tools also automate the most routine tasks in healthcare such as scheduling or time-sheet entry.
Definitely, the healthcare sector is just at the beginning of its journey with AI. The numbers prove that statement – according to Zion Market Research, the global artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry will increase from 1.4 bln dollars in 2018 to 17.8 bln dollars by 2025.
Trend #3: The Internet Of Medical Things (IoMT)
The Internet of Things is gaining momentum in healthcare. According to Frost & Sullivan, the number of IoT devices in healthcare sector will grow from 4.5 bln in 2015 to 20-30 billion by 2020. But what does IoMT mean? This term refers to the healthcare apps and medical devices connected with each other via the Web. This can include wearables, smart sensors, mobile apps, heart monitors, medication-tracking systems and others.
Wi-Fi enables devices to facilitate machine-to-machine communication and connect them to cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, where the captured data is stored and analyzed. IoMT provides an opportunity to monitor patients health remotely allowing them to avoid frequent visits to the doctor. Portable devices can measure patient’s heart activity or blood sugar level and automatically send data to the doctor. Connected devices are very valuable to elderly patients as they remind them to take pills or, if something goes wrong, send an alert to their family members.
The increasing demand for high-quality medical services as well as the aging world population will continue to boost the IoMT popularity. According to Allied Market Research, the IoT global healthcare market will reach 136.8 bln dollars by 2021. At the same time Deloitte predicts that IoMT market will reach 158.1 bln dollars in 2022.
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Trend #4: VR/AR in Healthcare
AR and VR are as much important for the healthcare industry as IoT, AI and telemedicine. According to the Grand View Research, the adoption of the technologies will grow and global AR and VR market in healthcare will reach 5.1 bln dollars by 2025. There is a reason for that. AR and VR are not only trending technologies but also a very useful tool for both doctors and their patients. The healthcare applications of augmented and virtual realities vary from the detection of diseases to doctors training, from health promotion to delivering pain management.
Both AR and VR already play an important role in disease treatment. For example, with the help of VR kids with autism learn to develop social skills, veterans have more chances to recover from a post-traumatic stress disorder and depressed patients receive their comfort and reduce the negative symptoms of their illness. Virtual reality is also used for Identifying the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
Conclusion: The future of digital medicine
Without doubt AI, IoT, VR /AR, and telemedicine have a positive impact on the quality of medical services and both on patients and doctors experience. Digital practices already play an important role in monitoring patients health, diagnosis, treatment, and this trend is definitely will grow stronger in the future.
The doctors will overcome their hesitations and fears of new technologies and will be more comfortable using digital tools to improve their work efficiency and provide better service to their patients. Digital transformation in healthcare will bring people more and more opportunities to live healthier, longer and more productive lives.