Today, innovative healthcare solutions are becoming widely introduced in medical organizations enabling healthcare providers to reduce costs, improve patient treatment, and optimize workflow. These solutions promise to significantly transform the industry.
Mobile applications, smart devices, biosensors, wearables, home virtual assistants, blockchain-based electronic medical record systems, predictive analytics, and web health portals represent a truly new stage in the healthcare environment.
When it comes to the benefits of digital healthcare, I should first note the enhanced treatment process, intelligent data analysis, and better customer service. Also, by using innovative tech solutions, organizations can take advantage of automated decisions, continuous patient state monitoring, and successful diagnoses.
1. Sensors & Smart Devices
Sensor technologies, such as wearable sensors and devices, provide many benefits for health management. Accurate reading and interpretation of indicators with the possibility of connecting sensors to mobile devices enables medical centers to replace heavy medical equipment with smaller devices.
Take a look at these interesting statistics that reflect a rapid integration of IoT devices and huge investments in them:
- According to a new report by Grand View Research Inc., IoT in the healthcare market is expected to reach nearly USD 409.9 billion by 2022;
- By the end of 2018, healthcare providers will have saved $1 billion through the use of robotic process acceleration (RPA) tools;
- Technavio’s market research analysts expect the global IoT market in the healthcare sector to grow at a tremendous CAGR of around 37% by 2020.
Currently, smart devices like smart inhalers for treating bronchial asthma, syringe pens for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, smart pills, and smart blister packs are being widely developed and introduced on the market.
Such intelligent tech solutions facilitate diagnosis, enhance treatment, and improve customer service, representing a significant step towards the improvement of disease treatment. For instance, smart inhalers have already become the new standard of patient care with bronchial asthma.
There are many other great applications of smart devices in healthcare, e.g., real-time health systems (RTHS), equipment monitoring systems, and connected healthcare systems.
At the moment, biosensors are among the most important elements of the healthcare digital transformation. You can find a wide range of biosensors that transmit medical information over a wireless network to mobile and web applications.
Thanks to them, healthcare providers get the ability to control patient treatment and monitor health outside the hospital walls. Biosensors also can help users in their everyday life by collecting data about all their physical activities, sleep, and overall health.
For example, biosensors can enable users to measure glucose levels, arterial pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, pulse, blood alcohol level, and alert users (and doctors) if some health issues/problems are detected.
Some of these devices record indicators with high sensitivity and specificity, which makes them very useful for health management, especially for treating elderly patients with several chronic diseases at once.
What’s important is the ability of biosensors to track patient health data in real time and provide doctors with all collected information, thus avoiding disease complications and improving treatment.
Since the data is read directly from the patient and is constantly updated, the indicators taken are of higher quality than those reported by patients during their visits to the doctor and can provide specialists with a real picture of the clinical course in each specific case.
3. Patient Health Portals
By now, patient health portals have become an essential part of healthcare organizations. Helping provide improved customer service and optimizing operations like request processing and appointment scheduling, they facilitate the life of both doctors and patients.
Imagine, for instance, a health portal, that allows patients to consult with doctors and experts online, check out test and lab results, easily make payments, communicate with other patients, find out healthy tips and food recipes, and schedule appointments.
4. Machine Learning Applications
As in many other sectors, machine learning has great advantages for the healthcare industry as well. Machine learning applications can help medical organizations improve customer service, extract value from large data amounts, efficiently analyze medical records, and enhance patient treatment.
Concerning practical use cases, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are using analytics in R&D, particularly in streamlining clinical trials and decision-making processes. When doctors and other specialists make decisions, the process sometimes looks a bit muddy or limited by the inability to quickly process a lot of information.
Also, there is often a high chance of human error. Intelligent data analytics can change it by bringing more data points from new sources, breaking down information asymmetries, and adding automated algorithms to make data processing as effective as possible.
As data sources are becoming more diverse, so are new ways to collect and analyze it, which helps specialists make successful decisions more quickly.
Though the healthcare industry still lags in the integration of machine learning solutions, ML offers tremendous opportunities to innovate clinical care and provide a personalized customer experience.
5. Blockchain-based Initiatives
Besides banking and finance, blockchain technology can be successfully used in many other industries. While the technology is the same, it has various applications, and healthcare providers can significantly benefit from using it too.
Safe data storage, protected transactions, secure data exchanges between healthcare organizations, immutable data record, and transparent data flow are all advantages of blockchain integration.
Today, blockchain initiatives are being widely implemented in the healthcare sector. For instance, Estonian eHealth Foundation and Guardtime company entered into a partnership for integrating a Blockchain-based system to secure millions of medical records.
Another example is a project called MedRec that represents a decentralized content management system with a high-security level. To enable secure data storage and communications in healthcare, the system applies Ethereum smart contracts and provides an immutable log of authentication permissions for healthcare data access.
Generating new products and integrating innovative technologies, the healthcare industry is seeing a rapid transformation. With digital health solutions taking the center stage, we are moving towards a completely new age of patient treatment, health monitoring, and management.
Written by Diana Maltseva at Smartym Pro.