Top 5 Digital Health Trends for 2017

There is no question about it, digital health is helping shape the future of healthcare. Patients are becoming proactive and are now weighing their options when it comes to finding the most cost effective and high quality healthcare solution on the market. On the other end of the spectrum, health insurance companies, providers and health tech product companies are all competing to deliver cutting edge tech solutions to solve a variety of industry wide problems.

Our top 5 picks for emerging technologies that are helping shape the future of healthcare are telehealth, blockchain, AI, wearables and the cloud. This year alone, Vicert has attended 20 health IT conferences nationwide and these are the hot topics on the agenda almost every time. We have enjoyed meeting many of the passionate individuals behind these trends and have been lucky enough to get the chance to form partnerships with many new companies. We believe that the applications of the following 5 technologies will continue to positively impact the healthcare industry for years to come.

Telehealth

Traditionally, when you needed to see a doctor it required a lengthy visit to the doctor’s office. Times are changing and telehealth is becoming the wave of the future. Patients no longer have to rearrange their schedule or take a day off just to be initially seen by their doctor. Now it’s as simple as hopping on a conference call with your provider to avoid long commutes and even longer waiting room times.

There are numerous benefits to choosing remote healthcare from the comfort of your own home. The options are endless because telehealth allows healthcare to become easily accessible for everyone regardless of their condition or physical location. For most elderly patients, mobility can be a huge obstacle to them receiving the care that they need. Telehealth is squashing those concerns, by allowing healthcare professionals to communicate and treat their patients remotely. This saves them time, money and frustration because it eliminates the need for them to coordinate transportation as well as the burden of physically making the long trip to the hospital. Gone are the days of handwritten appointment cards and visits to the doctor’s office for a prescription refill. Telehealth is dominating the digital health market and we are expecting it to exponentially rise in the coming years.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a transformational technology for the healthcare industry. While blockchain can be confusing to understand, put simply it is a ledger of secure transactions that are entered publicly and chronologically. The database shows a constantly growing list of ordered “blocks” that are time stamped and related to the previous block. Each block cannot be deleted, changed or modified in any way. Blockchain is a permanent record of transactions and the implications in health care are enormous, especially when it comes to data security (health records or identity verification).

One of the biggest pain points that blockchain is trying to solve is transactional inefficiency. The use cases of blockchain in healthcare are abundant, but these 10 picks look to be the most promising:

  • EHR’s (Electronic Health Records)
  • Authentication & Improvement of health records
  • Clinical Trials
  • Claims Adjudication
  • Drug Traceability
  • Smart Contracts
  • Precision Medicine
  • Population Health
  • Health Information Exchange
  • Supply Chain

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In June we gathered select leaders from across the healthcare industry for an exclusive event held with IBM – “Health in the Cloud.” Together we discussed competitive advantages through the use of cognitive computing technologies. Attendees got the chance to learn how to innovate and design cost-effective, real-world applications in the healthcare and life science industry through the use of IBM’s cutting-edge Watson AI technology and cognitive cloud platform.

But what is IBM Watson exactly? It is AI that uses cognitive computing to simulate the human thought process. What sets Watson apart from the competition, is that it is able to reason unlike any supercomputer has been able to before. Just like doctors make choices, Watson can also weigh out options before making a decision and hold much more information than the human mind. It can analyze millions of documents it has learned and can pull crucial information in mere seconds. The benefits Watson can bring to the field of healthcare are truly groundbreaking because it can link the pieces of information into patterns and relate them to each other, forming unique insights.

IBM Watson even has a special program for oncologists where it helps to design treatment plans. It does so by analyzing the structured and unstructured data in clinical reports and combines these findings with the patient’s file. This program uses the power of AI and cognitive computing to help identify possible treatment plans for a patient. AI in healthcare has the power to provide physicians with all the necessary info needed to make the right decisions.

Wearables

Healthcare wearable technology is designed and developed to help clinicians and their patients make better decisions. When you hear the word wearables, you probably think of smartwatches and bands that consumers love such as the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or Fitbit. Wearable electronic devices can track everything from physical activity to vital signs and also sleep patterns. Large tech companies such as Samsung Electronics are partnering with healthcare organizations to solve some of the biggest pain points in healthcare. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung announced that they are switching their focus from robots to wearable healthcare technology. As the tech giant makes diversifies into the health sector, they have developed a compatible app called Samsung Health that can monitor signs such as heart rate or track sleep patterns to help users take health into their own hands.

The Cloud

Healthcare is facing digital disruption as patients demand mobile access to their health records, want to schedule appointments, order refills with the click of a button or communicate with their doctor online. Healthcare providers must make the digital shift to offer faster, quality care to their patients at a low cost. To do this, providers must leverage the cloud and its IT infrastructure. Unreliable servers and the rising costs of maintenance are two of the main reasons why hospitals turn to the cloud.

With cloud computing, all data and health records are securely stored in the cloud, making them accessible from anywhere. If a server breaks down nothing is lost and there are zero maintenance fees or energy bills. Cloud computing also comes with a pay as you go model, so that you only pay for the services you use and the capacity you need.

Digital Health Team

Author: Digital Health Team

Developers and Management united represent our DH Team.

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