Article | March 10, 2020
The decade’s first global health crisis has placed the spotlight on the need for healthcare technology that can prevent and solve the world’s critical health challenges. This last week, Microsoft shared progress on innovations helping to meet these objectives. Today, we’re spotlighting intelligent health and business solutions from Microsoft Business Applications that empower health providers to help transform operations and deliver better patient experiences, better insights, and better care. Healthcare organizations are leveraging Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform to improve both provider operations and patient outcomes. These customers are prime examples of our focus to enable tech intensity across healthcare, empowering organizations to develop their own digital capabilities that use data and AI to address challenges and tackle new opportunities. Across healthcare, quality of care is increasingly dependent on synchronizing operations across staff to gain greater efficiencies and accelerate decision-making.
Article | March 10, 2020
As medical science has improved rapidly, life expectancy around the world also has risen. Still, as longevity increases, healthcare systems are facing a growing demand for advanced services, increased costs, and a struggling workforce to meet various requirements of patients. Demand is driven by many unstoppable forces: a shift in lifestyle choices, shifting patient expectations, population aging, and the never-ending cycle of innovation are a few among others.
Challenges Faced by the Healthcare Industry
According to Mckinsey, one in four people in North America and Europe will be over the age of 65 by 2050. This shows that, soon, the healthcare industry will have to deal with a larger number of patients with more complex requirements. Catering to these patients is expensive and requires health systems for providing long-term focused and proactive care. To remain sustainable, healthcare systems need major transformational and structural changes.
The industry also needs a larger workforce because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally there is a shortfall of approximately 9.9 million nurses, physicians, and midwives. Apart from attracting, training, and retaining these healthcare professionals, you also have to ensure that their time and effort add value to patient care. Utilizing the solutions powered by modern technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the healthcare industry, will add perfection and more value to human efforts.
AI in the healthcare industry has the potential required to transform and revolutionize healthcare by addressing the challenges in the industry mentioned earlier. AI can better the outcomes, improve efficiency, and augment productivity in healthcare delivery. This article takes an in-depth look at the impact of AI in healthcare.
Impact of AI in the Healthcare Industry
In the coming years, AI in the healthcare industry will improve the day-to-day life of healthcare practitioners, augment the patient experience, improve care delivery, and can even facilitate life-saving treatments and revolutionize the industry. Additionally, AI will improve population-health management, operations, and strengthen innovations.
According to Statista, the global AI healthcare market will increase to more than US$28 billion by 2025. Here is a detailed look into the areas where and how AI in the healthcare industry will be impactful.
Chronic Care Management
Chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, kidney diseases, are the leading cause of disability and death in the US and the main drivers of the country’s annual health cost. Effectively managing various chronic diseases is an overarching and long-term process. But with the help of the right tool, healthcare providers can meet the needs of these patients without delay.
Artificial intelligence tools in the healthcare industry can help healthcare providers overcome the complexities of chronic disease management and make it more effective and provide quality treatment. AI in the healthcare industry is increasingly being leveraged by organizations to improve chronic disease management, enhance patient health, and drive down costs, which will also eventually result in data-driven and personalized care. AI in the healthcare industry is expected to move the industry toward proactive care delivery from a reactive one and lead the industry to provide more individualized treatments. This is just one of the ways AI in the medical industry is going to revolutionize chronic care management in hospitals.
Artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry is changing the way care is delivered; it is expected to make healthcare more efficient, accurate, and accessible. Reducing costs and improving health outcomes are the values health systems and hospitals are trying to deliver to patients every day. Hospitals are increasingly incorporating technologies, which are powered by the use of AI in healthcare to meet the challenge.
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), AI in the healthcare industry has unlimited potential to solve most of the vexing challenges in the industry. They identify AI use cases in the healthcare industry in four broad areas, which are administrative, operational, financial, and clinical areas.
Administrative Use Cases for AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Admission procedures
• Appointment scheduling
• Customer service responses
• Discharge instructions
• Hiring and orientation protocols
• Licensure verification
• Patient check-in procedure
• Prior authorizations
• Quality measure reporting
Operational Use Cases of AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Inventory management
• Materials management
• Supply chain management
• Facilities management
Financial Use Cases for AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Billing and collections
• Claims management
• Insurance eligibility verification
• Revenue cycle management
Clinical Use Cases of AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Predictive technologies
• Interventional technologies
By incorporating and utilizing these scopes with AI in the healthcare industry, the industry can be transformed into a next-gen level in no time. It also allows healthcare practitioners to focus more on patients, which would eventually help in raising staff morale and improving retention.
Clinical Decision Support
Recent advancements in AI in the health industry are capable of enhancing the currently used clinical decision support (CDS) tools to have value-based imaging and to improve patient safety. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the synergy between CDS systems and AI in the healthcare industry will be able to:
• Reduce friction in radiology workflows
• Identify relevant imaging features easily
• Generate structured data to develop machine learning algorithms
• Enable an evolution toward decision support for a holistic patient perspective
• Suggest imaging examinations in complex clinical scenarios
• Assist in identifying appropriate imaging opportunities
• Suggest appropriate individualized screening
• Aid health practitioners to ensure continuity of care
AI in the healthcare industry is competent in making CDS a next-gen one, enhancing the experiences of radiologists and providers, and improving patient care.
Slowly but surely, AI is improving almost every aspect of human life with innovations and advancements. The latest is that AI in the healthcare industry is impending a revolution in medical diagnostics by providing accurate risk assessments, accelerating disease detection, and boosting hospital productivity. By automatically prioritizing urgent cases and accelerating reading time, image recognition AI enhances the workflow of radiologists. It even helps in the prevention of diseases by the early detection of diseases.
In medical images such as x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, AI-driven software can efficiently be used to accurately spot signs of many diseases, especially in detecting many chronic diseases such as cancer. According to the NIH, AI will be widely applied in the healthcare industry especially for various tasks such as patient engagement and adherence, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations. So, there is no doubt that AI in healthcare will revolutionize the diagnostic process in the approaching years by detecting diseases, classifying diseases, and improving the decision-making process. The application of AI in the healthcare industry will make people live longer.
Triage and Diagnosis
AI can be effectively used to automatically triage cases. AI algorithms will analyze the cases and forward cases to pathologists after determining the priority based on the probability of cases according to the criteria set by labs. This makes the workflow of pathologists easier and efficient. Through the process the algorithm will be able to:
• Verify the digital images attached to the case belong to that case
• Validate the tests ordered and match the specimen type
• Identify cases marked as stat
• Determine the cases, which can be positive or are most likely to be negative
Moreover, AI technologies in the healthcare industry also can be effectively used to provide more accurate and faster diagnoses. This speeds up the entire process of triage and diagnosis and is expected to revolutionize the healthcare industry soon.
The Future Outlook for AI in the Healthcare Industry
Over the next few years, AI in the healthcare industry has the best opportunities in hybrid models to support clinicians in diagnosis, identifying risk factors, and in treatment planning. This scope will result in faster adoption of AI technology in healthcare, which will show measurable improvements in operational efficiency and patient outcomes.
With a plethora of issues to overcome, which are driven by documented factors such as growing rates of chronic diseases and the aging population, it is obvious that the healthcare industry needs new innovative solutions. AI-powered solutions in the healthcare industry will achieve a clear impact on the global healthcare industry in a short time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best application of AI in the healthcare sector?
Cognitive surgical robotics is the best application of AI in the healthcare sector as it helps practitioners collect data from real surgical processes, which would help in improving existing surgical approaches.
Why is artificial intelligence important in healthcare?
Artificial intelligence in healthcare is vital as it can help make decisions, analyze and manage data, and have conversations. So, AI will drastically change the everyday practices and roles of clinicians.
When was AI-first used in healthcare?
The term, Artificial intelligence (AI) was first described in 1950, but the limitations of the term prevented its acceptance. In the 2000s, these limitations were overcome and people started to accept the term.
Article | March 10, 2020
The COVID-19 virus (C19) pandemic is turning out to be the event of the century. Even World War seems timid in comparison. We are in the 4th month of the virus (in non-China countries) and have gone past the lockdown in many places. Isn’t it time we re-think the approach? What if there is another wave of C19 coming soon? What if C19 is the first of many such events in the future?
Before we get into analysis and solution design, summarizing the C19 quirks:
While a large section of the affected population is asymptomatic, for some it can be lethal
There isn’t clarity on all the ways C19 spreads
It’s known to affect the lungs, heart, and kidneys in patients with weak immunity
It has been hard to identify a definitive pattern of the virus. Some observations in managing the C19 situation are:
With no vaccine in sight, the end of this epidemic looks months or years away
Health care personnel in hospitals need additional protection to treat patients
Lockdowns lead to severe economic hardship and its repeated application can be damaging
Quarantining people has an economic cost, especially in the weaker sections of society
If one takes a step back to re-think about this, we are primarily solving 2 problems:
Minimise deaths: Minimise the death of C19 and non-C19 patients in this period
Maximise economic growth: The GDP output/growth should equal or higher than pre-C19 levels
One needs to achieve the 2 goals in an environment of rising number of C19 cases.
An approach that can be applied to achieve this is:
Data driven health care capacity planning
Build a health repository of all the citizens with details like pre-existing diseases, comorbidity, health status, etc. The repository needs to be updated quarterly to account for patient data changes
This health repository data is combined with the C19 profile (disease susceptibility) and/or other seasonal diseases to determine the healthcare capacity (medicines, doctors, etc.) needed
The healthcare capacity deficit/excess needs to be analysed in categories (beds, equipment, medicine, personnel, etc.) and regions (city, state, etc.) and actions taken accordingly
Regular capacity management will ensure patients aren’t deprived of timely treatment. In addition, such planning helps in the equitable distribution of healthcare across regions and optimising health care costs. Healthcare sector is better prepared to scale-up/down their operations
Based on the analysis citizens can be informed about their probability of needing hospitalisation on contracting C19. Citizens with a higher health risk on C19 infection should be personally trained on prevention and tips to manage the disease on occurrence
The diagram below explains the process
Mechanism to increase hospital capacity without cost escalation
Due to the nature of C19, health personnel are prone to infection and their safety is a big issue. There is also a shortage of hospitable beds available. Even non-C19 patients aren’t getting the required treatment because health personnel seek it as a risk. This resulted in, healthcare costs going up and availability reducing.
To mitigate such issues, hospital layouts may need to be altered (as shown in the diagram below). The altered layout improves hospital capacity and availability of health care personnel. It also reduces the need for the arduous C19 protection procedures. Such procedures reduce the patient treatment capacity and puts a toll on hospital management.
Over a period, the number of recovered C19 persons are going to increase significantly. We need to start tapping into their services to reduce the burden on the system. The hospitals need to be divided into 3 zones. The hospital zoning illustration shown below explains how this could be done. In the diagram, patients are shown in green and health care personnel are in light red.
**Assumption: Infected and recovered C19 patients are immune to the disease. This is not clearly established
Better enforcement of social factors
The other reason for high number of infections in countries like India is a glaring disregard in following C19 rules in public places and the laxity in enforcement. Enforcement covers 2 parts, tracking incidents of violation and penalising the behaviour. Government should use modern mechanisms like crowd sourcing to track incidents and ride on the growing public fear to ensure penalty enforcement succeeds. The C19 pandemic has exposed governance limitations in not just following C19 rules, but also in other areas of public safety like road travel, sanitation, dietary habits, etc.
Maximise economic growth
The earlier lockdown has strained the economy. Adequate measures need to be taken to get the economy back on track. Some of the areas that need to be addressed are:
One needs to evaluate the development needs of the country in different categories like growth impetus factors (e.g. building roads, electricity capacity increase), social factors (e.g. waste water treatment plants, health care capacity), and environmental factors (e.g. solar energy generation, EV charging stations). Governments need to accelerate funding in such projects so that that large numbers of unemployed people are hired and trained. Besides giving an immediate boost to the ailing economy such projects have a future payback. The governments should not get bogged down by the huge fiscal deficit such measures can create. Such a mechanism to get money out in the economy is far than better measures like QE (Quantitative Easing) or free money transfer into people’s bank accounts
Certain items like smartphone, internet, masks, etc. have become critical (for work, education, critical government announcements). It’s essential to subsidise or reduce taxes so that these items are affordable and accessible to everyone without a financial impact
The government shouldn’t put too many C19 related controls on service offerings (e.g. shops, schools, restaurants, cabs). Putting many controls increases the cost of the service which neither the seller not buyer is willing or able to pay. Where controls are put, the Govt should bear the costs or reduce taxes or figure out a mechanism so that the cost can be absorbed.
An event like the C19 pandemic is a great opportunity to rationalise development imbalances in the country. Government funding should be channelized more to under-developed regions. This drives growth in regions that need it most. It also prevents excess migration that has resulted in uncontrolled and bad urbanisation that has made C19 management hard (guidelines like social distance are impossible to follow)
Post-C19 lockdown, the business environment (need for sanitizers, masks, home furniture) has changed. To make people employable in new flourishing businesses there could be a need to re-skill people. Such an initiative can be taken up by the public/private sector
The number of C19 infected asymptomatic patients is going to keep increasing. Building an economy around them (existing, recovered C19 patients) may not be a far-fetched idea. E.g. jobs for C19 infected daily wage earners, C19 infected taxi drivers to transport C19 patients, etc.
In the last 100 years, mankind has conquered the destructive aspects of many a disease and natural mishap (hurricanes, floods, etc.). Human lives lost in such events has dramatically dropped over the years and our preparedness has never been this good. Nature seems to have caught up with mankind’s big strides in science and technology. C19 has been hard to reign in with no breakthrough yet. The C19 pandemic is here to stay for the near future. The more we accept this reality and change ourselves to live with it amidst us, the faster we can return to a new normal. A quote from Edward Jenner (inventor of Small Pox) seems apt in the situation – “The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases”.
Article | March 10, 2020
The recent COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has changed the way the healthcare industry has been processing. It has transformed the healthcare sector digitally. Healthcare providers have changed services with the latest healthcare technology trends in digital and virtual platforms. Every healthcare provider is updating services by adopting digital advancements in their practices to increase their capacity to engage the maximum number of patients. Still more advancements and updates are needed to address many challenges in the industry such as cybersecurity, effective payment model, telehealth, patient experience, invoicing and payment processing, and big data.
Last year, wearable devices in the healthcare industry were quite popular with the patients. These devices have helped patients be aware of various healthcare metrics. Due to the introduction of the 5G internet, the wearable devices market is expected to have huge scope in 2021. Healthcare technology trends, such as the use of a digital dashboard scheduler or chatbots as a digital assistant, help hospitals and other healthcare organizations to better track appointments, contacts, demography, and make changes more efficiently as these are practical measures for modifying and monitoring patient activities.
Telemedicine, using video conferencing, digital monitoring, etc. have also been very helpful in containing the spread of the pandemic. It has made healthcare accessible for everyone, especially in rural areas. For remote patient care systems, telehealth and teleradiology reporting are very important technological upgrades. Healthcare technology trends of 2020, including patient portals, mobile health applications, remote care via telehealth, and wearable devices, played a major role in tackling the global pandemic situation. Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) also played a vital part in handling the situation. All the above-mentioned are COVID-19 fueled healthcare technology trends in 2020, which are expected to continue in coming years too.
Here is a detailed look into the healthcare technology trends, which are expected to address the new challenges and revolutionize the healthcare industry in 2021.
Technology Trends that will Revolutionize the Medical Industry in 2021
The digital transformation of the healthcare industry has been fast-forwarded by COVID-19 in 2020. Recognizing the healthcare technology trends, many healthcare providers have readily shifted their operations to the latest trending technologies. Others are also looking forward to setting their operations according to the upcoming trends.
It seems like almost all the healthcare providers genuinely wanted to transform their operating system to engage the maximum number of patients, due to the healthcare technology trends set after the hardest crisis in the healthcare industry virtual reality healthcare. So, before planning your healthcare strategy for 2021, don’t miss to include these healthcare technology trends of 2021 to achieve better healthcare outcomes and stand one step ahead of your competitors.
Patient Engagement Technology
One of the most competitive healthcare technology trends in 2021 will be patient engagement technology. There are countless technologies available in the market for patient engagement, evaluation, and campaigning. Due to high competition in the market, these tools are priced competitively.
Many healthcare organizations have started empowering themselves by achieving consistency in patient engagement with the help of available tools in the market. This also helps them achieve increased ROI. The healthcare technology trends, including remote care via telehealth, patient portals, wearable devices, mobile health applications, and many more, empower patients and increase patient engagement.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations need to improve patient experience along with engagement. The entire road to patient satisfaction and experience can be changed with these healthcare technology trends in 2021.
As telemedicine revolutionized the entire healthcare technology in 2020 by playing a vital role in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected to be one of the healthcare technology trends in 2021 too.
Using the advancement, it possible for healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat any number of patients remotely through phone calls, mobile apps, emails, and even through video calls. Telemedicine can provide patients with better access to all healthcare services, drive up efficiency and revenue, and lower healthcare costs.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
The arrival of both AR and VR solutions has made way to witness meaningful advancements in the healthcare industry and technology. Advancements that could only be dreamt of a decade back, have become realities and been implemented. These two healthcare technology trends offer some serious promise to the world of healthcare, including educating patients before a treatment procedure.
AR offers one of the latest and most spontaneous options in the healthcare industry. AR allows doctors and surgeons to experience 3D effects on real-world scenes. This healthcare technology trend permits the professionals to stay grounded on actual procedures with access to all the data through various other emerging technologies. This makes doctors compare data, in the virtual world, to understand what the patient is experiencing and make a flawless diagnosis and suggest healthcare procedures.
It is either impossible or expensive for patients to get answers from specialists for their routine queries. But, chatbots make it easier and comfortable for healthcare service providers to answer questions of patients cost-effectively. Though chatbots are currently in the experimental phase to be used in healthcare solutions, they are most likely to have the necessary access to clinical scenarios by the beginning of 2021. It is expected to be one of the progressive healthcare technology trends in 2021.
As a digital assistant, chatbots allow healthcare providers to keep a track of contacts and appointments and make changes, when necessary. Chatbots are going to revolutionize the clinical processes and business, providing practical as well as clear measures for modifying and monitoring patient activities.
Big Data and 5G
5G is about to sweep the world in the coming months. With the extraordinary intensification in transmission bandwidth of 5G, users will construct a huge amount of data. With 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be used largely to send and receive data. In the next three years, the global wearables market is expected to reach an annual turnover of US$52 billion. This can be attributed to the introduction of 5G wireless technology, one of the healthcare technology trends.
Healthcare providers will have the access to a huge amount of accurate data when data from wearable devices and other initiatives are added together. This is going to change the way providers collect data and the way doctors and patients communicate.
Thus, while you plan to upgrade your healthcare technology for 2021, don’t forget that you will be receiving a huge amount of data from patients, which can be attributed to one of the important healthcare technology trends of 2021, big data and 5G.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), one of the prominent healthcare technology trends of 2021, is developed to mimic human thought processes. GNS Healthcare AI system and IBM Watson are some of the most popular examples for the active use of AI in the healthcare process. This trend is going to rule healthcare processes and revolutionize medical care in 2021.
To improve healthcare professionals’ and hospitals’ care delivery to patients, Google’s DeepMind has built mobile apps and AI. The AI healthcare market is expected to reach US$7988.8 million in 2022 from US$667.1 million in 2016. This healthcare technology trend is expected to take the healthcare industry to a new realm by increasing patient engagement and experience in 2021.
Cloud computing is one of the major healthcare technology trends in 2021 that is going to change the industry. Attributed to the recent development of various healthcare technology trends, the cloud computing market is expected to reach US$35 billion in 2022 from US$20.2 billion in 2017.
This tremendous growth is attributed to the need of storing a high volume of data for healthcare organizations at a lower cost. In the healthcare domain, the main use of big data is in Electronic Health Record systems (EHR). It allows secure storage of various digital documentation such as demographics, medical history, diagnoses, and laboratory results. Cloud computing, an important healthcare technology trend, is expected to make the healthcare process smooth and flawless in 2021.
The biggest trend of 2021 in the healthcare industry is the holistic technological transformation of healthcare firms. Whether AI, ML, RPA, telemedicine, big data, chatbots, or cloud computing, almost everything related to data management and monitoring will peak in 2021. These healthcare technology trends will rule healthcare in 2021. Moreover, targeted and personalized care for critical diseases is expected to be another trend in the coming years.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the technology trends in healthcare?
Trending healthcare technologies are AI, ML, RPA, cloud computing, big data, chatbots, telemedicine, etc. AI, the life-changing technology is going to completely transform the healthcare industry in the coming years starting from 2021.
What are the most important trends in healthcare technology?
Augmented and virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Medical Things, Machine Learning, chatbots, cloud computing, telemedicine, etc. are the most important technology trends in the healthcare industry.
What are the current technological trends in healthcare?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Electronic Health Records (EHR), Blockchain and data security, health-tracking apps, therapeutic apps, and telehealth are the major current technological trends in the healthcare industry.