Many recent advances in technology have allowed the creation of healthcare products that couldn’t even have been imagined by the average person not that long ago.
Inventions such as tiny implantable cardiac defibrillators that can share data with medical providers, tiny devices as small as a pea for cardiac surgery on premature infants and wearable glucose sensors that monitor and document blood sugar levels around the clock have saved lives and improved outcomes for millions.
If you work in healthcare or you are a healthcare consumer, you will want to know how new technologies could impact our future healthcare experiences. So, make a cup of tea, sit down for some self-care like a hand mask made with healthy skin care product ingredients and let’s look at what sort of innovations we can look forward to in the next 10 years.
Big Data Analytics in Healthcare
Big data refers to the extensive amounts of data gathered by modern technologies that collect medical data. The data is gathered from a wide variety of sources. It comes from obvious places like medical records, test results and data from the pharmaceutical companies. Big data is also gathered from less likely sources, such as social media, mobile apps, sensors and genetic testing.
The data tends to have a lot of variability, which needs more technology to manage and store it and manipulate the data with the goal of prediction, prevention and treatment decisions.
The big data healthcare trend can create opportunities to create new insights into where disease originates and how to identify it. Analyzing big data can also allow for the identification of patients who may be at high risk, and this creates opportunities for earlier intervention that can keep costs down. It can also help streamline access to care and predict where public health needs will be greatest.
Technological Advances in Mental Healthcare
It’s easy to understand how tech and automation can create benefits in settings that treat physical issues, but there are advances in tech that can be hugely beneficial for people who need care for their mental health. A number of technologies will impact the coming trends in mental health care.
Video Games and Virtual Reality as Treatment
Some research has shown that commercial video games and virtual reality home systems may have some benefits in the treatment of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and ADHD. By using this immersive technology, patients can challenge themselves as well as work on desensitizing themselves in relation to issues that have caused or which trigger trauma.
Companies have been working on this technology in regards to mental health for decades now, but the increase in the isolation due to the pandemic has made this new resource more vital than ever.
Studies have shown that specific treatment-based virtual reality content is an effective treatment for mental health issues as diverse as PTSD, eating disorders, paranoia, claustrophobia, alcoholism and teen depression.
Tracking Mental Health Symptoms Online
Instead of checking in with their mental health provider once a week, or even once a month, a patient can keep a record of their symptoms on an online symptom tracker for their provider to see on a daily basis.
Logging on to update the tracker about things like levels of anxiety and depression throughout the day, sleep patterns, frequency of flashbacks and increases or decreases in auditory or visual hallucinations can help healthcare providers make medication changes or suggestions in real time. It also creates a detailed record of treatment and symptom management, which helps create better outcomes going forward.
The Internet of Medical Things
You may have heard of the “Internet of Things” and wondered what it means. The term refers to physical objects that are connected via the internet. The objects, or “things,” are created with sensors, technology and software for the task of exchanging data with other “things” and systems.
This interconnected system helps to power new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and analytics, among others. This powerful new technology can have a huge impact in the field of healthcare, and it has many special applications there. This creates the subcategory of the “Internet of Medical Things.”
The Internet of Medical Things includes such devices as:
- Implanted pacemakers and defibrillators that store and share data
- Glucose monitor for diabetics
- Heart rate monitors
- Ingestible devices for gathering data
- Remote patient monitoring
- Online and personal trackers
- Internet-connected inhalers for breathing issues
- Connected contact lenses
- Robotic surgery devices
- Medication refill monitoring
- Air quality sensors
The list could go on and on, but these are just a few examples of the ways that internet connectivity can improve healthcare and quality of life in the near future.
Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
Healthcare technology continues to transform the medical system on a daily basis. Artificial Intelligence is just one of the many tools being used by healthcare systems and providers.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is sometimes also referred to as “machine learning.” AI is when computers are using a complex set of algorithms to make decisions, suggestions and predictions, much like the human brain would.
We interact with AI or machine learning in our everyday world already. When Netflix suggests what show you might like to watch next or your cell phone text app suggests the next words you might want to use, you are interacting with AI.
In healthcare, AI can be used in numerous ways to help create a smoother medical experience, as well as better outcomes and increased accessibility. Some examples are:
- Improving diagnosis accuracy and speed
- Reading CT scans and other radiology results
- Classifying and triaging symptoms
- Earlier cancer diagnosis
- Pharmaceutical development
- Treating rare diseases
- Clinical research and trials
These new technological healthcare trends will continue to transform health care and its delivery as we move into the future. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, as more innovations are being created every day.