Digital technology is revolutionizing healthcare provisionRoddy Bergeron
Digital technology continues to impact nearly every sector of the economy, with healthcare one of the most striking examples.
Technology-enabled care (TEC), CRM software, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, sensors, robotics and mobile devices are just some of the technologies constantly redefining the way healthcare professionals interact with and treat their patients. This is leading to better care and superior outcomes through earlier detection of illness and disease, and treatments that are preventative rather than reactive.
Digital connectivity opens new paths to diagnosis and treatment
The global healthcare sector is under considerable strain due to the high cost of medical treatment, aging populations and the pressures of shrinking government healthcare budgets.
Yet improvements in TEC – the convergence of health and digital technologies with mobile devices – is helping to meet these challenges. Doctors, other health professionals and carers have unprecedented access to patient records and family medical histories. Improvements in big data and analytics allow them to cross-reference and transfer patient data such as X-rays or the results of blood tests in record time.
The rapid uptake of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones and a proliferation of thousands of accompanying health apps means people are gaining far greater control over their health through instant information sharing and remote treatment. This is potentially saving billions of dollars through fewer visits to GPs and hospitals.
Access to health information is also educating patients about their conditions, medicines and treatments, and getting them more involved in their health.
Health monitoring set to explode
Digital health monitoring is still in its infancy, but its potential for illness diagnosis and prevention is enormous. The global digital health monitoring market is expected to exceed US$250 billion by 2024.
This is likely to include technology such as bio-detecting wearables capable of producing real-time data on blood glucose levels, pulse rates, sleep apnoea and many other health-related issues.
For example, Apple’s new Watch 3 includes a range of health and fitness features such as an enhanced heart rate app to monitor resting heart rate, recovery rate and a notification for elevated heart rate when the user appears to be inactive. The watch will also include a heart rhythm tracking feature.
There are many other healthcare wearables allowing people to monitor their bodies and play a more direct role in their own healthcare.
Digital technology continues to benefit the healthcare sector in ways that were unthinkable only 10 years ago. This change is likely to continue at an even greater pace over the next decade.