How Digital Health is Revolutionizing Healthcare: 5 Technologies to Watch
By Space Coast Daily // June 25, 2023
Technology and healthcare go hand in hand. Many people are wondering where they’re going. The digital health industry continues to receive massive investments in telemedicine and IoT devices. Virtual reality surgical training is also a popular trend.
“The World Health Organization identifies health equity as “… “the absence of unfair, avoidable, or remediable health differences among groups defined by social, economic, demographic, or geographic criteria.”
Health equity is about making healthcare affordable and accessible for everyone. and digital trends in health are driving forces of health equity.
There are many obstacles to overcome on the way to achieving this objective, as there are stakeholders from all levels of government and social determinants that affect how we collect and analyze health data.
We explore five digital health trends that are gaining real momentum. Find out why these trends matter for health equity and healthcare in the future.
Five Biggest Digital Health Trends You Should Watch
The pandemic caused massive disruptions in the healthcare sector and encouraged it to invest in new innovative technology. During the pandemic, some of the following digital trends gained momentum and are predicted to change the future of medicine:
Telehealth is a method of delivering healthcare using digital communication technology, such as mobile phones and tablets.
Healthcare providers were forced to adapt quickly as the pandemic drastically reduced in-person visits. In April 2020, in response to the challenging circumstances, more than 43% of Medicare primary care visits were conducted using telehealth, leveraging digital platforms to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare professionals. This accelerated shift towards telehealth not only ensured the continuity of care but also highlighted the importance of EHR for large practices.
Telehealth is here to stay, even as COVID-19 vaccinations are rolled out worldwide. Fortune Business Insights studies predict that the telehealth industry will surpass $185 Billion in 2026.
Why it matters
Telehealth offers multiple benefits, including:
- Access to healthcare is expanded . More people, including those who are medically vulnerable and without transport or providers in their area, can now access health services.
- Less contact There is less contact and less risk of spreading illness between health care workers and patients.
- Urgent non-COVID-19 Conditions Patients with chronic illnesses who require frequent checkups and do not need in-person testing may be able schedule remote appointments.
- Continuity in care With consistent communication, providers are able to nurture their relationship with patients and avoid negative consequences that may be caused by missed or delayed appointments.
What to Expect
The people want an easy digital experience for scheduling appointments, ordering medication, receiving essential health advice and communication. Telehealth is not a passing trend, but rather an integral part of a comprehensive healthcare plan.
McKinsey predicts that 250 billion dollars of total U.S. health care spending may be virtualized in the years following the pandemic. Digital health trends are not an experiment, but a way to increase the efficiency and agility of healthcare providers.
2. IoT and medicine
The Internet of Things is a growing network of physical devices that are embedded with software, sensors and other technologies. These enable data exchanges and connections between disparate systems and devices across the internet.
Medical IoT, a rapidly-growing field, uses wearables, monitors and integrated applications to meet healthcare needs. Medical IoT, which uses AI and machine-learning technology, can enhance traditional medical devices like , the smart inhaler, a device that syncs with a patient’s mobile app.
Why it matters
The Medical IoT has many benefits.
- Remote Monitoring Patients can wear wearable devices to go about their daily lives. Healthcare professionals can monitor the condition of patients remotely with real-time insights. This reduces the need for in-person appointments.
- Better convenience With the advent of 5G technology and smart healthcare devices, patients are better able to manage their health conditions. Smart insulin pens and glucose monitoring devices, for example, help people monitor their health with minimum disruption.
- Lower cost for patients As technology improves, IoT devices become more affordable. This will bring us closer to achieving health equity. This is good news for the patients.
- Hospitals can save money. They rely on complex medical equipment such as X ray machines, CAT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It is expensive to replace one of these machines, and downtime can be costly. Hospitals can avoid expensive downtime by using IoT devices to monitor machines and alert technicians when problems arise.
- In addition, hospitals can track their supply inventory using sensors, optimizing the use and expenditure on disposable items such as masks, gloves and syringes.
What to Expect
IoT has been one of the fastest growing digital health trends. DataProt reported a CAGR of 28.6% in this year. Cloud computing and mobile applications are supporting this growth.
Data storage and security is paramount when it comes to healthcare. Patients need to be able trust their healthcare providers when it comes to sensitive personal data. IoT devices need to be reliable, both in terms of connectivity, performance and data delivery in real time. Healthcare professionals may miss important information about the health of a patient if there is any downtime or lag.
Cloud computing offers many opportunities in healthcare. However, trust in IoT and data security is still developing. In the future, we should expect to see more funding and investment in IoT technology.
3. Apps for Employee Well-Being
Mental health was also affected by the pandemic as life became more difficult. The wellness app market was driven by mainstream adoption of mindfulness apps such as Headspace, Liberate and Calm, not just the niche meditation audience. Calm gained 10 million new users according to a report by The New York Times. Venture capitalists also contributed.
The company’s value will rise to $2 billion with $75 million.
Wellness apps are becoming more popular among employers. Corporate wellness retreats, office yoga and team-building activities have been a part of company initiatives for decades. But the concept of an employer-provided app is relatively new.
Why it matters
Apps for employee wellness offer many benefits including:
- Increased Job Satisfaction A report by SHRM revealed that 48% U.S. workers claim they would be more confident in digital health tools, if offered by their employer. In addition, 26% of respondents said they would stay with their employer if the apps were available.
- Reduced cost: The increased use of health apps is expected to reduce costs for both patients and providers. Health apps could save the U.S. Healthcare System $7 Billion per year, according to reports. The mobile age is attracting more people to wellness applications, which should lead to a reduction in “sick leaves” for employees.
- Personalized healthcare Many health and wellbeing apps allow users to create a profile that tracks key measurements like weight, blood sugar level, and calorie count. People can take more control of their health with personalized healthcare. Users can also share their health data with providers.
What to Expect
Some apps that target the corporate workplace are Limeade and Vantage Fit. These apps help employers create wellness programs and challenges for their employees to stay healthy and fit.
Deloitte’s Future of Health Report predicts that wellness will continue to be one of the biggest digital health trends over the next twenty years. By 2040 we can expect to see a fundamental shift from treatment-focused medical care, , with 60% going towards improving health and wellbeing.
Employers will continue to market wellness apps and practices in line with the trend. As companies try to improve their workplace morale, they will adopt digital wellness strategies.
4. Infectious Disease Management: Innovations Continue
It was evident that the healthcare industry was not prepared to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic. In just a few short weeks, digital health trends that were worth discussing were those that aimed to stop the virus’ spread.
Several countries rushed to release apps that would assist governments and healthcare providers in tracking and monitoring viruses, as well as helping them with testing. As soon as one app is launched, another will arrive with improved capabilities such as shorter testing time and better tracking features.
Unfortunately, it was the pandemic that sparked innovation in the health industry. While there have also been huge gains since the end 2019, there have been massive losses.
Why it matters
Over the past two decades, there have been many remarkable advances in sequencing and genomics technologies. These advances laid the groundwork for the COVID-19 vaccinations, and allowed their rapid development.
The first vaccines were based on messenger RNA (mRNA). It’s not just limited to COVID-19. Researchers can create other vaccines and treatment at a much lower cost and in a shorter time frame than traditional methods. biological programs, mRNA vaccines are able to be customized by adding a protein code which stimulates the immune system against a specific pathogen.
There may be new treatments for diseases such as malaria, hepatitis B and tuberculosis. Researchers are also looking into how mRNA medicine could be used for cancer treatment, with trials currently in progress.
What to Expect
In the last few years, rapid innovations in healthcare have made it possible for COVID-19 testing to be done on mobile devices. We will soon be able test for other infectious disease outside of traditional healthcare settings. This will allow providers to test patients in their workplaces, schools and homes.
Moderna, Inc, a renowned pharmaceutical company, made a significant announcement in February 2021 regarding its manufacturing investment plans. The company revealed its intentions to increase manufacturing investments, aiming to produce a staggering 1.4 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by 2022. In parallel, virtual healthcare solutions are expected to play a vital role in enhancing efforts to prevent the spread of diseases. Additionally, the utilization of the best medical billing software can further streamline and optimize healthcare operations.
The development of vaccines has historically been slow – 10 year in some cases – but the production timelines for mRNAs can be as quick as 3 to 4 months.
AI and predictive analytics are going to be essential in the future for medical professionals who want to develop a scientific understanding of infectious disease transmission and incubation. At a fundamental level, however, the global health system will undergo a major overhaul in terms of logistics and supply chains to ensure that effective vaccines can be delivered to those who need them. ‘
5. Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality was once viewed as a novelty that would be best suited for video games. Virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality technology (AR), offer many practical applications beyond entertainment and gaming.
VR is used in healthcare to help with planning and training for surgery. This allows both patients and surgeons to become more comfortable. Many reports have also been published about VR’s effectiveness in helping to manage chronic pain and mental health.
Markets and Markets published a report on the growth expected of AR and VR for healthcare. projected a growth rate of 30,7% per year between 2017 and 2025.
Why it matters
Virtual reality is already used by health professionals to treat many conditions. This includes mental illness such as anxiety, post-traumatic disorder, and phobias. VR and AR can be used by providers to simulate real-life situations where people are psychologically challenged, such as dealing with eating disorders or a fear of heights.
The simulation allows people to overcome their fears and challenges by putting on the VR headset. Oxford VR reported that this type of immersive therapy could reduce fears and phobias 68% in just two hours.
VR is a great way for medical professionals to improve their skills. In a study on the impact VR in healthcare, students who received VR instruction were able complete medical procedures 20 percent faster than those who only received conventional training. The VR-trained group also completed 38% of the steps correctly.
What to Expect
A recent report by Verified Market Research predicted a massive growth of $34 billion dollars in 2027.
We’ll see many VR and AR applications for healthcare in the coming year. These technologies are more than just a trend. They offer tangible benefits to medical professionals and patients that can improve patient care and save money.
Companies like Karuna Labs and Oxford VR are on a mission to assist people with chronic pain or mental illness, which were both health issues long before the pandemic.
VR is a technology that’s still in its early stages. As the technology continues to develop, it will bring exciting new developments in areas such as cancer treatment, rehabilitation, and preventive healthcare.
We’ve been using the technology that powers telemedicine, IoT, and healthcare apps for years. It took the pandemic for healthcare to advance and for institutions, providers, and patients to embrace new digital health trends.
Providers and patients alike now appreciate the value of digital healthcare services. Remote services, IoT, and research and development are now a full-swing. Investment and funding activity show that others also see the value of digital health trends.
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving investment growth. The funding for telemedicine reached $4.3 Billion. Six digital health companies have raised more than 6 billion in their IPOs. In 2021, more companies will go public due to the digital health trends that investors are interested in.
It is possible to make huge improvements. The healthcare industry takes innovation very seriously and is focused on creating a healthier future for all.