Healthcare organizations have been facing unprecedented levels of disruption over the past few years due to shifting consumer demands and changing regulatory and compliance landscape. Along with this, they are also tackling cost pressures, which requires them to be resilient, agile, and innovative. And COVID-19 has ccreated unprecedented disruptions in healthcare over the past year.
As a result, healthcare players are shifting to digitally-enabled and patient-centric solutions with AI-led data transformation at its core. This will help build a more holistic, preventive, and value-based healthcare system with improved clinical outcomes.
Challenges of new-age healthcare
Some of the key challenges in healthcare are exponential healthcare costs (over 100 percent rise over past 10 years), the growing need to manage chronic diseases, expectations of a growing geriatric population, and providing affordable healthcare to all. With stricter regulations and compliance landscape, patient safety and information security have assumed more importance than ever in the connected healthcare space.
In the COVID scenario, there have been increased challenges In healthcare, not only in developing but also developed countries. In India for example, there are other factors that accentuate the pressure on healthcare. A large population, inadequate infrastructure, shortage of medical professionals, low access to healthcare especially in remote areas, and high costs require a system that is preventative, real time, and cost-effective.
Intelligent Industry driving modern healthcare
The convergence of technologies is ushering in the era of the Intelligent Industry – which means harnessing the power of data to foster innovation, make ‘smart’ products, create new customer experiences, and deliver new sources of value. Healthcare is a key benefactor of this process. Going ahead, technology adoption such as 5G, IoT, and AI will drive intelligent healthcare and facilitate a system of ‘anytime, anywhere’ care.
The important technology drivers in the medical industry are:
- Intelligent connected products
1. Device miniaturization and increased use of wearables for health monitoring
2. Connectivity solutions stimulating home monitoring and point-of-care devices
- Mobile technology, mHealth and Digital therapeutics/Software-as-a-Medical device. These software-only solutions are used in clinical outcomes to enable patients achieve better self-care. They may range from basic guidance on insomnia to developing appropriate drug regimen for improved health by stimulating behavioural changes for better management of diseases like depression and dementia.
- The Internet of Medical Things, including connected health monitoring devices, remote sensors, and wearables, is driving healthcare like never before. With 5G, IoMT is key in preventive healthcare and speed of diagnosis. Also, the convergence of pharma and medical devices is enabling development of combination products for personalized treatment by leveraging the strengths of both industries.
- Cloud technology adoption unlocks the digital and analytics capabilities across the healthcare spectrum. Leveraging data and analytics ensures personalized experience, medical data management, device management, value-based care, and home health solutions.
- AR/VR/Mixed Reality are extensively used for training of surgeons/doctors in new therapies, combined with precision robotics for surgical procedures. Augmented reality is providing significant solutions in medical education, surgical visual visualization, curing of PTSD and other mental health issues.
- Data-driven R&D is leveraging vast amounts of data aggregated from patients and their ecosystem. This provides great opportunity to all medical stakeholders – doctors, medtech companies, and insurance companies to infer meaningful insights from data.
- AI-based decision support systems for clinicians accomplishes early and accurate diagnosis, improved workflow and efficiency, and personalization of therapy and treatment. It provides opportunity for healthcare professionals without specialized training to carry out professional diagnostic examinations.
- Telehealth will be a gamechanger especially in developing countries, where large populations have scarce access to quality healthcare. Along with telehealth solu .. solutions, remote care will bring significant socio-economic benefits to patients, governments, and businesses through advanced and improved service delivery.
- Evolution of drug manufacturing is assuring delivery of personalized and biologic drugs across a wide spectrum of end users.
COVID-induced trends in healthcare
COVID-19 accelerated the process of digital transformation. Going forward, we will witness critical new trends in the technology-led healthcare and life sciences arena. With telemedicine solutions and other home care services gaining wider acceptance, virtual visits and chatbots representing new primary care, this is nothing short of revolutionary!
For instance, in 2020, the use of wearables, home monitoring devices, along with connectivity solutions has grown significantly. Online consultation through telehealth apps has ensured better monitoring of patients with chronic conditions and post-surgical rehabilitation. In hospitals, cobots and robots can be leveraged for inspection of patients’ vitals and overall care. Clearly, COVID accelerated this practice.
Value-based healthcare – the way ahead
Increased access to information and awareness is radically enhancing patient engagement in overall disease management. This is giving rise to the patient-centric healthcare model. It has led to a shift from the earlier ‘one-size-fits-all’ form of treatment and paving the way towards targeted, personalized healthcare.
The connected patient ecosystem has transformed healthcare into an integrated and efficient, plus a holistic and preventative system. This is aiding the shift from cost-based to value-based healthcare. In modern healthcare, ‘value’ will be created by delivering health, not just delivering care.
For a system that is bruised by a global pandemic, but complemented by new-age technology, that is the way to go!