Healthcare Industry Outlook - COVID-19

Healthtech Trends That Are Shaping Response to COVID-19 Crisis

Having undergone a series of strangled gasps due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the healthcare industry is seemingly finding solace in digital transformation. The veteran leaders in healthcare delivery are resting their confidence in the continuously evolving healthcare tech trends to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.  

COVID-19, the name given to the novel coronavirus by the WHO (World Health Organization), has hit the whole world hard. Even the best healthcare systems of the world have succumbed to COVID-19 and are virtually falling like a house of cards. Governments across the world are implementing measures such as social distancing and lockdowns, but these measures do not seem to be feasible for the disoriented healthcare industry. There are people, who are ill with the coronavirus and all the frontline healthcare providers are bound by a moral responsibility to fight with the crisis and keep saving their lives, irrespective of the consequences. 

Somewhere in the COVID-19 hullabaloo, the healthcare industry worldwide got to thinking, “How do we deal with this pandemic as well as ‘infodemic’ which has led to a crisis, a threat that is looming large?” Scientists are busy finding a vaccine that could potentially end the ongoing crisis, but it’s high time the healthcare services providers must mull over deriving long-term solutions with the help of technology

How can Healthtech solutions aid in finding a way out of the crisis?

Although gradually, the digital revolution did begin to disrupt the age-old, conventional healthcare practices, and redefine the capabilities of the healthcare industry. But the prevailing COVID-19-led pandemic has made the time ripe for the industry to re-evaluate its position and accelerate the adoption of digital transformation. 

With digital transformation, healthcare providers can deploy technologies that can help them turn a deluge of healthcare data into the most valuable asset, help fill the communication gap, as well as, help deliver the best of patient care and satisfaction. 

  • The Technology Perspective 

    The following Healthtech trends are being leveraged by the global digital transformation providers to find, build, and develop viable digital healthcare solutions. Healthcare companies can rely on these solutions to fight a crisis such as COVID-19 along with shaping the future of their work.
Internet of Things (IoT) Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Machine Learning (ML)
Extended Reality  Digital Twins 
Cloud Computing  Conversational AI
Blockchain  Wearable Technology
Big Data  Analytics

These healthcare tech trends are said to be maturing. With the expansion of the 5G (5th Generation) cellular technology, the year 2020 and onwards will witness an accelerated use of technologies such as IoT, AI, and ML. These technologies, when mapped with big data and analytics, can help make efficient use of health information, which — by 2020 — is expected to double every 73 days. With high computational abilities and intelligent algorithms, AI and ML can enable healthcare providers to reap the benefits of data-driven outcomes, be it identifying COVID-19 patients, monitoring the pandemic, or be researching, experimenting, and formulating a suitable treatment.     

Besides, technologies such as robotics can be put at the forefront at a time when social distancing has become the need of the hour. Medical robotics, for instance, can play a key role in reducing human involvement and thus, check the transmission of the disease. In fact, healthcare companies are already investing in the technology, and by 2023, the global market value for medical robotics is expected to be worth $20 billion. 

At a time, when people have been asked to maintain a safe distance from each other, technologies such as AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) can make the idea feasible. Healthcare companies can leverage these technologies to train healthcare workers, offer healthcare product knowledge, accelerate treatment, and provide other simulative experiences. According to an article published in Forbes, by 2025, the healthcare market for AR/VR technologies is expected to reach $5.1 billion. 

The healthcare industry can combine the forces of technology to open new doors of opportunities. In crisis and uncertainties such as COVID-19 — where workers do not have the option to stay under the lockdown or practice social distancing — these emerging healthcare tech trends can help them device new and safe measures to pursue their duties.

The Solution Perspective  

Digital transformation is perhaps the best way to augment the healthcare industry functions amidst the continuously spreading COVID-19 pandemic.

We are living in the digital age, with over 3 billion active smartphone users worldwide. Furthermore, approximately 80% of the people want to opt for one or the other smart wearable devices to keep a check on their health. These figures give the global healthcare providers a confidence to carve out a new digital healthcare architecture that would see a surge in the demand of services such as: 

  • On-Demand Virtual Care: It is one of the best ways to sustain the continuity of care when patients can’t leave their homes. On-demand virtual care allows patients to instantly connect with virtual clinics, medical practitioners, and other healthcare services facilitators through video conferences, chats, and other tools integrated into a virtual care app.   
     
  • Telemedicine/Telehealth: Another efficient approach to delivering better patient care is telemedicine. In between the ongoing pandemic, when in-person, face-to-face visits to doctors are not at all recommended, telemedicine allows healthcare providers to deliver remote consultations to patients through video conferencing and other tools underpinned by telecommunication technologies. According to the Massachusetts General Hospital, over 79% of the patients find telemedicine a more convenient way to consult or follow-up with the doctors.   

    Healthcare services have traveled a long way. New developments in technology such as IoT and the cloud have given birth to a connected healthcare ecosystem, along with introducing a more appropriate term, connected care. IoT is enabling healthcare companies to connect devices and facilitate machine-to-machine (M2M) communication to gain real-time data access and drive data-driven business outcomes. The cloud, on the other hand, is facilitating business integration by allowing healthcare companies to migrate their legacy systems to the cloud and build SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platforms. Cloud leverages technologies such as microservices and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to facilitate B2B (Business-to-Business) communication and ensure 100% compliance with the healthcare regulatory authorities. With all such developments, connected care allows an uninterrupted flow of digital health information and successful remote patient monitoring via electronic communication.   

    Formulate Healthcare Technology Solutions That Are Wholesome 

    The world is ensnared in the corona-led crisis and digital transformation is the only way out. Not only because it can keep the healthcare sector going amidst social distancing and lockdowns, but also because it can curb the rising healthcare costs and deliver better patient care. In one of its reports, McKinsey informs that technologies such as AI and ML can help the global healthcare industry save $100 billion in annual expenditure. Healthcare technology solutions are also worth considering because reports suggest that by 2032, the US alone would witness a shortage of over 100 thousand physicians.     

    Digital transformation and the technologies underneath can empower the healthcare providers to fight not only with the present adversities created by COVID-19 but with other similar crises and uncertainties, now and in the future. It can help create a robust healthcare compliance system that can result in an improved health information exchange, augmented patient care, as well as, increased engagement and interaction.