Healthcare is changing. Right under our eyes. And in profound and exciting ways. First, more and more healthcare organizations understand the urgency to improve the customer experience. Secondly, more and more companies are focusing their efforts on streamlining data collection as well as improved analysis in order to provide accurate diagnosis.
But as much as the healthcare industry is trying to transform itself from within, there are still quite a few technological advancements that must still be tapped into in order to propel the industry into the future.
Let’s take a look at the most exciting healthcare technologies which can be adapted to strengthen the overall digital strategy of any healthcare organization.
- Wearable Devices and IoT
The rise of the Internet, computers, and smart devices has led us to wearable devices such as smartwatches and activity trackers.
In 2018, smart watches are more than just fashion accessories, they are Internet-enabled tools to help users (wearers) collect data about their physical conditions in real time.
Most of such devices can measure heart rate, blood pressure, metabolic rate, and even sleep intensity.
Collected data can uploaded automatically to cloud storage service for further analysis. Since the information collected is specific to the user’s fitness level and adjusted to any underlying medical conditions that might exist, healthcare professionals can use the information to determine the most appropriate individualized approach to address possible issues such as symptoms, along with the addition of, or changes to, prescription medications.
An undeniable healthcare trend that certainly will take top priority in 2019 is Telemedicine. As the name suggests, it is an Internet-based approach to healthcare practices including diagnoses and treatments by means of remote communication. Patients should not be limited by geographical location to find support, advice, or therapy suggestions from healthcare professionals. Especially for patients who have difficulties travelling due to their conditions, telemedicine is an effective method for healthcare practitioners to help patients cope with and manage such limitations.
The good news is that the technologies are already here, so the implementation process should be a breeze. There really isn’t any technical hurdle that stands in the way of receiving the best care in this day and age. Professionals can help you set up the system; patients are usually pretty well-equipped with home Internet connections. Make the commitment to adopt telemedicine solutions for your patients so you don’t get left behind by competitors.
- Artificial Intelligence in Health
Major industries such as automobile manufacturing, financial analysis and advice, transportation planning and education have been using artificial intelligence (AI) to accomplish tasks in a much more time-efficient and budget-friendly manner. Basically, AI is a robot-with or without a physical entity-with the ability to read data, analyze problems, consider possible solutions, and determine the best method to eliminate difficulties with the least damaging consequences. Some prominent examples of existing AI include self-driving cars, smart thermostats, Google Assistant, and especially in the healthcare industry Microsoft’s Project Hannover.
When applied to healthcare practices, the main function of artificial intelligence (at least in today’s AI development stage) is to collect data that facilitates and hastens the prescription process. Of course, a human professional is still needed to input the data, but the computer remembers every combination of symptoms (or medical conditions) and determines the right medicines to prescribe.
- Build a Responsive Website
Simply establishing an online presence is no longer enough; the healthcare industry as a whole must take much more seriously the importance of having a professional responsive healthcare website. Overcoming the massive obstacles to collect and disseminate the enormous quantity of information about diseases, treatment options, and medications into a single website is an gargantuan challenge to which every healthcare institution and practice should be contributing. Not only does the information need to be as detailed as possible, but it also must be arranged and presented in such a way that patients and their caregivers can easily follow and understand what they find. Failure to make the site sufficiently responsive may lead to frustration and confusion for patients, potentially introducing many difficulties to gaining new customers and retaining existing ones. Responsive website design should automatically adapt to users’ platforms.
Formats must be appropriate for those who use more conventional desktop computers or laptops as well as mobile devices, considering the fact that many (if not most) people access the Internet via mobile devices. Users want to access the website conveniently regardless of the devices they use. Adaptive website design means users have an easy layout to explore without regard for the device used.
- Big Focus on Content Marketing
When patients and potential customers access your website, they are looking for answers to their questions and suggestions about where to find further information, should they need it. A beautiful responsive website design is important, but good quality content is what customers crave. However, simply writing great content is often not enough because you also need to get the information to the customers. To accomplish this, you need smart marketing strategies ensuring that your websites are found by search engines in the first pages of search results, positioning your website in a place that encourages customers to click and visit. Use only relevant content deemed by major search engines to be highly informative, educative, and authoritative in the field.
- Cloud Storage
A healthcare service can store millions of gigabytes of data about patients, medical histories, symptoms, underlying conditions, personal information, surgery-related paperwork, medications, insurance information, and more. In a digital world, data is also written in digital format and should be stored in a digital infrastructure. Cloud storage is a gigantic virtual hard drive accessible via the Internet. In the healthcare industry, cloud storage allows doctors, nurses, therapists, physicians, medical assistants, and even patients access to the necessary data in an instant. With cloud storage, every person with valid credentials can access the data (or a fraction of all data). Since cloud storage is much less prone to security breaches and damage, patients’ private data are well-protected.
- 3D Printing
3D printing is part of additive manufacturing, in which every object is created using 3D CAD software and then produced (or printed) as a physical object. In the healthcare industry, the production of personalized prosthetics is the most useful application of 3D printing technology. Unlike mass-produced prosthetics that have the exact same dimensions and specifications (although they might differ slightly in appearance or cosmetic aspects), 3D-printed prosthetics can be personalized to match the patient’s exact requirements. Think of it as a custom or tailored prosthetic to make sure the patient can use it with the greatest comfort possible. As with telemedicine, the technology for 3D printing already exists. And only two weeks ago, University of Arizona has received 2 million dollars in grants to develop 3D printed bones for veterans. So we know this trend has a lot of potential!
Compared to other major industries, the healthcare sector is proving quite slow in adopting digital technologies. With the current development and adoption rates, however, you can expect some big changes to occur in the sector within the next few years. Digitalization should not be seen as a complementary expansion of the industry, but a necessity to improve performance in providing better healthcare services for all.