Healthcare technology typically referred to as "Healthtech," directs to improving various aspects of the healthcare system using different technologies. From telehealth to robotic-assisted surgery, Healthtech has improved millions of lives of patients and healthcare workers and has boosted hospital and administrative productivity multifold; it delivers new insights into medicines and treatments and or has improved the quality of care provided. Moreover, the pandemic has led to significant technological advancements and healthcare adoption. It is now more accessible and quicker for patients to procure medical services outside the medical establishments, enhancing convenience and accessibility.
This blog will take you through the primary aspects of healthcare technology and take you on a detailed journey through several blogs on the topic.
What is Healthcare technology?
Healthcare technology refers to the technological tools that facilitate improved healthcare access for society. Any form of technology meant to support medical organizations falls under the umbrella of Healthcare Technology. The sheer convenience which characterizes this new healthcare model is the main driver behind its widespread adoption for use by private companies and state medical agencies alike. Tech-enabled tools are being integrated into each step of the healthcare experience to address two key pain areas - quality and efficiency.
Patient’s medical records are now stored in a digital format, increasing their legibility. Patient waiting times are declining, and hospitals are more effectively staffed owing to artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Surgical procedures and recovery times are being reduced due to ultra-precise robots that assist surgeries and make specific functions less evasive. Telemedicine has dramatically streamlined the health check-up process by enabling patients to undergo necessary tests from the comfort of their homes. Live heart rate monitoring and similar measures have also been employed to safeguard the health of at-risk patients with the help of healthcare technology.
Healthtech companies are enhancing efficiency by tailoring experiences to the individual. These companies realize there's no one-size-fits-all approach to appropriate care, and customization is necessary. Hence, companies are on a path to personalize everything from insurance payments to diets and sleep patterns. They have been strengthening human health and reducing the unnecessary strain on the industry for decades.
How is Healthcare technology growing its footprint?
Technology has aided the development of a multi-faceted approach to healthcare solutions. The COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare companies to adapt to the reality of frequent lockdowns by creating an alternative mechanism to connect with doctors. It served as the prime catalyst for the growth of the Healthcare Technologies industry, which has never looked back since.
What was once considered a necessity owing to social distancing norms has now transformed into a multi-billion-dollar industry, which continues to prosper even after the waning of the pandemic. The peak usage of the Telehealth industry, recorded by McKinsey and Company in April 2020, was more than 78 times its usage in February 2020. The level of use since its stabilization is still about 38 times higher than pre-pandemic levels, a staggering figure that few predicted.
Investment in healthcare technology seems to have followed a similar trend, with total venture capital investment in the industry totaling $14.7 billion in the first half of 2021. This is more than the figure reported in 2020 ($14.6 billion) and surpasses 2019 ($7.7 billion). Even the Indian healthcare sector is poised to grow multi-fold. The Indian healthcare sector is expected to record a three-fold rise, growing at a CAGR of 22% between 2016–2022 to reach US$ 372 billion in 2022 from US$ 110 billion in 2016. In the Economic Survey of 2022, India's public expenditure on healthcare stood at 2.1% of GDP in 2021-22 against 1.8% in 2020-21 and 1.3% in 2019-20.
Which trends in healthcare technology are revolutionizing the healthcare industry?
Availability of Information and Big Data
This allows medical professionals to stay on top of healthcare trends, techniques, and technologies. The help of data and the means to store it can automatically identify risk factors and suggest preventative treatment by comparing patient data with data from thousands of other patients.
Medical professionals can now use video, online discussion platforms, and real-time meeting applications to communicate and share knowledge. Communication between medical and non-medical staff members has benefited significantly, particularly in various locations.
Integrated Medical Records
Electronic medical records save all patient histories, test results, diagnoses, and relevant information centrally in an online location. Accessible to all relevant departments and care providers, the electronic medical records result in improved case management, treatments, and patient recovery. Even the digital medical billing systems allow hospitals, clinics, and medical practices to run smoothly.
Healthcare Advice Available at Fingertips
Telemedicine or telehealth options such as videoconferencing are becoming cost-effective ways to complement local health services, especially for those living in distant areas. Even teleconsultation benefits health care or other frontline staff, as they can receive education and training virtually.
Mobile software applications improve accessibility for patients and healthcare professionals with each passing day. They help manage health and well-being for everyone; by prompting them to get check-ups, locating medical information, or accessing the test results securely online 24/7.
Automating the countless internal medical and non-medical administration processes using workflows saves critical time in having staff find or perform what they need. For instance, the forms are available for patients to fill online and are automatically delivered to the appropriate person to view, approve, or process.
Drivers of technological change in healthcare
A collateral effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was the growth of a robust digital infrastructure that sought to temporarily replace the conventional healthcare system in the event of lockdowns or other restrictions. Far from ceasing to exist in the post-pandemic phase, this infrastructure has increased in sophistication due to its accessibility and the availability of internet at reasonable prices in developing markets such as India. Utilizing technological means to connect with gynecologists or therapists has also become the norm in certain societies where visiting such specialists is frowned upon.
The following are some of the few ways in which healthcare technology is quickly becoming an indispensable part of our medical infrastructure:
1. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): The competitive nature of the Healthcare Technology industry has led to the creation of some invaluable pieces of medical technology, including Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). Physicians use remote Patient Monitoring to monitor the patient's status remotely, enabling one to save on commuting expenses and resulting delays.
2. 5G Wearable Sensors: Advancements in other technologies such as wearable 5G sensors (such as Fitbit) and artificial intelligence are actively contributing to the digital revolution in healthcare.
3. Digital Therapeutics: Digital therapeutics is an invaluable tool from the healthcare perspective. It has increasingly been utilized by mental health professionals to conduct cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other initial diagnoses without requiring a patient to meet with the professional.
4. Smarter Pacemakers: The pacemaker has served as the most crucial medical equipment for decades because of its ability to correct life-threatening heart arrhythmias. It is now possible to link pacemakers with smartphone apps through Bluetooth, helping patients understand the functionality of this otherwise complex tool in an emergency.
The Healthcare Technology industry's success is a win-win for all parties involved, as not only does it generate a vast array of economic opportunities, but it also carries the potential to prolong our lives and those of our loved ones. The availability of inexpensive medical aid online will also help bridge the socio-economic divide present in society, providing increased people access to remote healthcare.
Healthtech truly has the potential to reduce the unnecessary noise from the traditional healthcare space. We can soon expect the reduction in costs, wait times, inefficiencies in drug development, and limited access to insurance and healthcare providers to be improved through tech-enabled patient care.
The following blog from the series will discuss the top trends in how technology is changing healthcare. Stay tuned!
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