It was just a few years ago when technology was making inroads in the field of medicine and healthcare. What had started from better imaging equipment and has moved to the digitization of records, the field of medical technology has witnessed rapid evolution. Much like other industries, the healthcare industry is also looking at leveraging the digital economy to its optimum capability by harnessing the power of handheld devices, mobile technology, cloud computing, big data and big data analytics, AI, IoT and others to improve patient outcomes and drive efficiencies across the continuum of healthcare. The tangible benefits of leveraging IT in healthcare is evident from the growth in the healthcare IT Market which is expected to be worth USD$ 280.25 Billion by 2020.

The question that, however, needs answering is, where is healthcare technology headed? What can we expect from medical technology in the future? Will medical technology be able to meet the challenges of today and be able to provide solutions for tomorrow?

The rise and rise of mobile

Clearly, home visits are now a thing of the past. However, with the rise of mobile technology, the doctor can once again come back to the patient’s homes…at least, in a way. With smartphones and handheld devices becoming commonplace, patient and doctor interactions can now be conducted anywhere. Owing to the rise of computational capabilities and technologies such as the cloud, telemedicine is becoming a reality. This can be a huge boon to those areas that do not have access to good doctors and medical facilities. Mobile technology is also all geared up to improve patient interactions, improve doctors efficiencies, help in better management of chronic diseases, lower the total cost of healthcare spending, collect patient data to create predictive models, accommodate treatment of a greater number of patients and enable remote treatment and monitoring.

Unlocking the value of health data

It has been proved that data is the new currency. This holds true in the healthcare segment as well. We can expect to see a greater use of data in healthcare and witness the consequent rise in data analytics technologies to drive precision and predictive medicine. The increased use of data will also help in evaluating and assessing the best treatments and also launch them faster in the market. As computer algorithms replace prayers in finding the right treatment options, data will be the ultimate leveler for better diagnostics, treatment plans, and improved health outcomes.

Improving the quality of care by knowledge democratization

The use of technology in healthcare has also ushered us into the era of knowledge democratization. With medical information now being published in a more user-friendly manner in the form of information guides, it paves the way for greater knowledge sharing because of greater searchability and availability. The democratization of knowledge gives the medical community the power to learn from one another irrespective of geographical locations, unlock the potential of crowd-sourced wisdom, and consequently, improve the quality of patient care.

Goodbye silos – hello consolidation

As we all become a part of an interconnected network, medical technology too starts to follow this trend. Information residing in silos in today’s age is as good as no information. Information that is stored in data repositories with no interoperability, or information stored in different formats managed by different parties more often than not results in information and efficiency drain. Medical technology is, thus, moving towards a future that consists of more interoperable and moving parts, data that is usable and retrievable, and technology integrations that help in creating healthcare platforms that enable seamless patient care and advanced administrative and operational capabilities.

Increased efficiencies = greater productivity

The healthcare system has to leverage technology to drive efficiencies. Whether it is to manage patients records and data or to improve hospital efficiencies without compromising on the quality of care, technology has a significant role to play. Technology can be used various ways such as automated dashboards for alerts, better reporting, automated follow-ups for postoperative care, assessment of hospital equipment and their use, synchronous and non-synchronous communication between departments. The scope of technology use is only going to increase to drive productivity, reduce readmission rates, and reduce the costs of healthcare.

Better quality of care

The use of advanced technology in healthcare and the use of medical devices, sensors, and wearable devices will increase in use to improve health monitoring and aid disease prevention. Increased use of medical technologies will aid preventive medicine, enable evidence-based decision making, drive personalized care, and ultimately optimize patient outcomes. Medical technologies will also help patients navigate the healthcare system with better and consequently help them manage their health better. These technologies also will assist in making the healthcare ecosystem more transparent, improve doctor-patient communication, provide greater clarity of communication within the healthcare network using digital services, and streamline and standardize administrative processes for improved operation costs. All of these ultimately contribute to improving the quality of care and health outcomes.

Further, the use of medical technology to detect correlations between medications and side-effects during drug discovery, to detect outbreaks before they happen, to gauge the effectiveness of treatment plans will be immense. As medical technologies become more intuitive, they will prove to be a great enabler of better doctor-patient interactions that will not only help the patient feel better physically but emotionally as well.