The Future of Technology and Healthcare
Technology is helping to shape the future of healthcare. Most of us are already familiar with electronic health records (EHR), also known as electronic medical records (EMR). By 2017, 85.9 percent of office-based physicians were using EHR, while 79.7 percent of office-based physicians had a certified EHR system.1
But digital technologies aren’t just changing the way we manage health records. They’re also having a real impact in clinical settings.
From 3D printing to telehealth and wearables like the apple watch ECG app, our health has become more and more intertwined with technology. To remain relevant in the healthcare industry, professionals must become proficient with the following technological advancements, and they’ll need to know how to analyze data to do so.
10 Health Technology Advancements That Will Impact 2020
Here are the most important emerging healthcare tech trends in 2020:
Telehealth was already gaining traction in 2019, but it became an essential tool during the pandemic.
Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services and information via electronic means or telecommunication technologies. A telehealth appointment could be a simple phone call, a video conference, or clinical data relay through sensors attached to a patient’s body while they rest at home.
It allows for long-distance patient and clinician contact, making it an imperative tool in rural areas and during emergencies.
2. Wearable Sensor Technologies
Wearable devices and sensors can continuously monitor patient vitals, even while they aren’t in the office. This technology can help physicians monitor patients’ at-home recovery to identify trends and opportunities, but it’s also an important tool for responding to emergencies.
Wearable technologies will be an essential tool for elderly care, as it always allows at-risk patients to be monitored.
Of course, you may already be familiar with this type of technology if you own an Apple watch or a similar device.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are already being used to mine medical records to identify trends, but AI is capable of so much more. In the future, AI will likely be able to design treatment plans and even help create drugs at a much faster rate than humans alone.
Google’s DeepMind even created an AI for spotting breast cancer more effectively than human radiologists. It resulted in a reduction of false negatives by 9.4 percent.2
4. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is an interactive experience where objects in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated information. The most widely known example of augmented reality in action might be the hit 2016 game Pokémon Go, which enabled players to capture imaginary monsters on their smartphones as if they were there in real life.
In a healthcare setting, augmented reality can help medical students learn and prepare for operations in a safe environment. It may also help physicians enhance their capabilities.
Imagine if your doctor could place a few sensors on your body, then hold their smartphone up to view your circulator system in action.
5. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is different from augmented reality in that it doesn’t alter reality; it completely replaces it. Virtual reality is already helping in clinical settings by distracting patients during complicated procedures, but it also has applications in healthcare education and aiding surgeons in the operating room.3
According to one study, medical students who were given VR training for a specific procedure completed 38 percent more steps correctly than those in a traditionally trained group.4
Genomic medicine is the process of using someone’s genetic information to determine a personalized treatment plan, and it’s becoming more effective the more we learn about the human genome.
Computers can now analyze genes and gene mutations to identify medical conditions at incredibly fast speeds. This is helping public health professionals understand how genetic conditions occur and how best to treat them.
If “nanotechnology” sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, that’s because it is. Nanotechnology refers to engineering and technology at the nanoscale, or between 1 and 100 nanometers (one billionth of a meter).
Once only conceptual, scientists have already developed microrobots that can swim through our bodily fluids, miniature cameras we can swallow like a pill, and a pill that can be controlled wirelessly to deliver medicine or transmit diagnostic information.5 6 7
In the future, we could even see microscopic machines that can carry out tasks within the body, such as eliminating cancer cells or targeting and combatting infectious diseases.8
Robotics is already widely used in healthcare. Robots are assisting surgeons in the operating room to perform complex reconstructive procedures and reduce risks.9 Some hospitals use robots to deliver food to hospital rooms and even to comfort children.10 Currently, robots are more common in large medical centers. But with the right expertise, they could be deployed across the country.
9. 3D Printing
3D printing is more than just a novelty. In healthcare, we can use it to print living human cells, tissues or even replacement organs. This is what’s known as “bioprinting.” It has exciting implications for patients who need replacement organs, skin grafts, and other major medical procedures.
3D printing is also used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Pharmacies and doctor's offices equipped with 3D printers may be able to print drugs as needed and print personalized drug regimens for specific patients.
5G is already being deployed in select markets, and it has the potential to boost connecting speeds and reduce latency dramatically. The full deployment of the 5G network will be essential for transmitting large quantities of data without the need for a wired connection, making it paramount to the future of connected wearables and other at-home medical devices.
The Demand for Data Professionals in Healthcare is Growing
Proficiency in health tech was already important, but the pandemic has made it even more critical. Telehealth visits, EHRs, drug development, and genome sequencing have been incredibly vital at this very moment. More than ever, we need professionals who are trained to gather and analyze this type of data.
This is true both in clinical settings and at private companies that serve the sector. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 85 percent of companies will have adopted big data and analytics technology by 2022. If you’re ready to take the next step in your career and become a healthcare data analyst, develop new data analysis skills through health tech courses from EmergingEd.
1. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/electronic-medical-records.htm
2. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from pulselive.co.ke/bi/tech/googles-deepmind-created-an-ai-for-spotting-breast-cancer-that-can-outperform-human/5sc7d8r
3. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from stanfordchildrens.org/en/innovation/virtual-reality
4. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from statnews.com/2019/08/16/virtual-reality-improve-surgeon-training/
5. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from newatlas.com/scallop-microbots-swim-body-max-planck/34589/
6. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from medtronic.com/covidien/en-us/products/capsule-endoscopy/pillcam-colon-2-system.html#pillcam-colon-2-capsule
7. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from news.mit.edu/2018/ingestible-pill-controlled-wirelessly-bluetooth-1213
8. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/nanobots-kill-drill-cancer-cells-60-seconds/
9. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/programs/o-_-z/robotic-surgery-research-and-training-program/for-medical-professionals
10. Retrieved on December 6th, 2020, from discoveries.childrenshospital.org/huggable-social-robot-trial/