Technology and the Future of Healthcare

With new innovations hitting the market every day, healthcare professionals are faced with an exciting challenge: adapting to these new technologies and how they will impact their patients' experience as well as their own work environment.

Cameron Barrie Posted 23rd September 2021
Articles, Knowledge

We live in a world where technology is constantly changing and developing. As it continues to change, so does the medical industry. With new innovations hitting the market every day, healthcare professionals are faced with an exciting challenge: adapting to these new technologies and how they will impact their patients’ experience as well as their own work environment. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the newest innovations in healthcare that are shaping the future of medicine and what’s coming next!

Healthcare and Technology: An Overview

There’s a whole new world of healthcare on the horizon – a shift away from a model of episodic or one-time care to one where people get care anytime, anywhere and in different ways. 

It is therefore important to assess the technologies that are redefining this landscape right now and some innovations poised to shape the future of healthcare in the future.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

‍- Charles Darwin

Therefore, in keeping with change, it has become more important than ever for healthcare administrators and executives to stay ahead of the curve. The result?

The impact of advanced technologies on healthcare continues to be profound.

Hospitals are able to make decisions much more quickly than before which minimizes the risk of errors happening at a time when they can have the greatest impact on the patient’s well-being. A study result presented at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 50th Critical Care Congress alluded to this fact. According to Dr Udeh, the leader of the study,

“This model facilitates more efficient interventions. It allows us to shorten the time between recognition and intervention. We’re able to more quickly identify a change in a patient’s condition and alter the course of care before their condition becomes problematic.”

Furthermore, cost savings are one of the major benefits that come from using a digital system to manage patient care. According to a study by Alliance for Connected Care, use of digital systems for patient care has resulted in an average savings of $100 per visit.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the use of these digital systems is also making healthcare more accessible to the world’s population (WHO). For instance, people in developing countries now have access to medical advice and care that they would never be able to get otherwise.

There are many technologies emerging in healthcare – each with the potential to drive a paradigm shift. So, what’s the future of healthcare?

One thing we can be sure of: The future is digitized.

The medical community has been slow to adopt digital technologies. However, that trend is rapidly changing.

One company in the forefront of change and maturity in digital is nib Group.

A recent innovation – the cumulative result of several partnerships – the nib Group in partnership with Apple and Bilue recently launched an Apple Wallet integration for digital health care cards. The first of its kind in the world, the nib mobile app and it’s integration into Apple Wallet means 

“members will be able to securely make on-the-spot claims from their iPhone or Apple Watch – removing the need to remember a physical card, upload receipts or submit a claim form!”

according to Alaine Corning, Project Manager at nib health funds.

This is just  one of the many ways that technology is redefining and simplifying healthcare.

6 technologies to watch and consider for the future of healthcare

Artificial intelligence

What it means: Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that deals with the simulation and understanding of intelligent behavior in artificial systems. Think of it a bit like a mathematical model that adapts and provides better answers as it learns more and more about a particular topic.

Not long ago, the idea that artificial intelligence would be able to provide care for humans seemed like science fiction. Nowadays, the idea is not so far-fetched.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Artificial intelligence is being used in healthcare for things like diagnosis, treatment planning and monitoring. AI helps doctors and other practitioners make more accurate diagnoses and recommend treatment plans. It can also alert them to potential interventions and medical issues that could lead to adverse events.

In a recent study, Google Health and DeepMind partnered to create an AI that they hoped “is capable of surpassing human experts in breast cancer prediction.” True to their word,

“the AI system outperformed all of the human readers: the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC-ROC) for the AI system was greater than the AUC-ROC for the average radiologist by an absolute margin of 11.5%.”

What this means is that the AI system was better at predicting breast cancer than the average human radiologist. Definitely an exciting development, because not only is it better, it’s almost infinitely scalable. The future is here and AI will be a key factor in healthcare delivery for years to come.

Wearable tech

Agony is what happens when something goes wrong with your body. And for most of us, at some stage, our bodies do go wrong.

Some people might say that they are healthy and don’t need any monitoring but how many times have you worried when there was a niggle or when things were going wrong that there might be larger issues? What access does your doctor really get to your vitals? Knowing the answer to this question can keep you in good heart!

Wearable technology is exploding at the moment, making it possible for people today, to monitor their health and wellbeing continuously.

Yes, we are talking about the likes of Apple Watch, Fitbit and Jawbone, but we’re also talking smart scales that measure weight, body fat percentage, water weight or muscle mass, and store this this information in Apps like Apple Health. Smart toothbrushes that measure oral hygiene and even indicate when you need a dentist visit. Smart watches that measure heart rate and blood pressure. And many more.

These devices are becoming increasingly more sophisticated with many now able to measure and provide feedback on stress levels, blood sugar levels, alcohol levels or even oxygen saturation. And this is just the beginning!

Ultimately,  wearable technology offers great potential for improving the quality of healthcare. 

As Dr. Glen Stream, Chairman of Family Medicine for America’s Health puts it:

“We believe consumer health technologies — apps, wearables, self-diagnosis tools — have the potential to strengthen the patient-physician connection and improve health outcomes.”

Mobile Apps

“The first thing we ought to recognize is that mobile is now part of the fabric — every day in everybody’s life. So if you’re not looking at mobile solutions, then you’re not really looking at all solutions.” 

Mal Postings Global CTO — IT Advisory Ernst & Young.

Like many other technologies, mobile technology has made a significant impact on the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers are adopting mobile apps to provide more efficient, personalized, and accessible healthcare.

Areas where these apps have had the most impact are evident in:

Providing real-time information

Health related information needs to be useful, timely and easily accessible. Too often, it’s none of these. Providing real-time information is arguably one of the most impactful features of mobile technology in healthcare. Healthcare providers are increasingly utilizing this feature to provide timely and accurate health information to patients which allows them to take an active role in their health.

For example, ACT Health mobile app provides users with “real-time information on wait times, treatment times, locations and travel directions for your nearest Walk-in Centre or Emergency Department – helping you decide where to go in the ACT for healthcare.”

Removing barriers to Healthcare

With more people on their phone than ever, mobile tech is one surefire way to make healthcare accessible anytime and anywhere. It enables providers to reach out and connect with their patients, providing them with the resources they need on demand.

Apps like HotDocs have provided the Australia public with a mobile first solution to finding a treating physitian, and recently also helped Australian’s get booked in for a Covid vaccination. The mobile first approach provides a simple and frictionless experience to finding a booking a treatment with a healthcare professional

Facilitating healthcare payments and insurance coverage

Healthcare providers are adopting mobile payment apps to provide a convenient, and reliable way for patients to make payments.

Mobile technology is also beneficial in the process of health insurance, as it allows members to simplify the claims process, track their health benefits, and manage payments. In addition, mobile apps often provide patients with information on their coverage and the services they are entitled to.

For instance, the GU Health App provides users with a simple claims process, facilitated by the camera, a user simply takes a photo of their invoice from a healthcare provider, and the rest is taken care of.

Mobile applications have revolutionized the way we access healthcare, the most personal device on the planet is not the hub of information securing and managing all the wearable tech and associated data, it also provides a platform for payments and management of our appointments, schedules and more! Mobile does, and will continue to make a greater and greater impact for years to come.

Virtual Reality 

Virtual Reality is still in its infancy for most people. While it’s big in the gaming world, it’s a relatively new technology that can be used to create all kinds of immersive experiences, but VR is still limited to certain types of applications. For most people, that means gaming and gaming alone.

But for healthcare professionals, it can mean so much more.

Healthcare professionals have come to rely on this technology in many areas, including training, diagnosis and treatment.

A 2019 report from Harvard Business Review found that surgeons who use VR as part of their training are 230% better – including speed and accuracy than those who don’t.

As far as alleviating pain, VR is showing promise: In this comparative cohort study in a large, urban teaching hospital, patients who used VR Samsung Gear Oculus VR headset had a significant reduction in pain and anxiety compared to the control group. Also, St. George’s Hospital in London, UK used virtual reality technology to successfully provide pain and anxiety relief for patients during ‘wide-awake’ surgery.

Times are changing and the future of healthcare is increasingly virtual. Now more than ever, it’s important for healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date with this new tech in order to provide the best care possible.

Augmented reality 

Augmented Reality (AR) and has the potential to change how healthcare is provided. Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with our physical environment, making it interactive.

Augmented reality is becoming most prevalent as a technology in the medical field, with some hospitals already implementing this technology to help doctors perform surgery.

Like VR, AR is also being used for learning purposes: Students at Case Western Reserve University are using Microsoft HoloLens and the HoloAnatomy app to study Anatomy.

Telehealth

Telehealth is the use of video conferencing technology to provide medical care remotely by a doctor or other professional from a different location. 

Telemedicine can be delivered in a variety of ways, from video chats to real-time remote monitoring. It is being used for many different purposes, including to provide consultations, diagnose patients remotely and monitor chronic conditions.

The use of telemedicine has a number of advantages over traditional, in-person care. Doctors and nurses are able to provide more comprehensive consultations remotely, which can be an important benefit for time-sensitive procedures. It is also more cost-effective, since it reduces the need for expensive travel and accommodation.

Mobile devices can also be used to provide remote consultations, diagnosis and monitoring.

Instead of just being a one-way video feed from the doctor to the patient, remote care can include a two-way video feed so that patients and their caregivers can see what is happening.

Telehealth has really come into it’s own during the pandemic, with many general practitioners forced to leverage the technology, and in doing so, many have found that the adoption of telehealth is prooving the be quite accessible. So much so, we are beginning to see improvements in it’s uptake benefiting regional and rural communities, where finding a GP is often a time consuming and arduous task. Telehealth is simplifying remote healthcare, and has the potential to profoundly impact the heath outcomes of millions of people around the world

Looking Ahead: The future of healthcare is changing and the winners will be those that implement the changes

We see a future where people will take control of their health and wellbeing, rather than passively to treat health issues.

In this future, diagnosing a disease will be faster. Treatment options will be tailored to fit the needs of individuals.

This future is closer than you think, thanks to innovations in our healthcare industry that are happening right now.

In fact, nearly two-third of healthcare leaders are so concerned about the impact of impending digital disruption they’ve started to change their business models now and say they would be investing in telehealth according to  Royal Philips Future Health Index 2021 Global Report.

As we move closer to a future where technology will be behind the scenes in healthcare, it’s important that this transformation benefits everyone. And that healthcare providers and companies are ready to meet the needs of patients and consumers in a complete and integrated way.

For the innovative and forward-thinking business this presents an opportunity. An opportunity that can only be  grasped with the right team in place.

At Bilue, we have the right team.

We have a group of individuals who are not only experts in their fields, but passionate about providing healthcare-tailored tech solutions that are forward-thinking and innovative.

A lot of businesses in the healthcare industry in the quest to go digital, dive in headfirst without doing the work needed to understand the needs and goals of their customers, medical professionals are used to having all the answers, and often we find this translates into a “we know what needs to be done” approach to digital, and approach that we know from literally every other industry, do not work.

As a result, health often struggles to get the adoption or uptake that was expected.

We can help you design a roadmap for the future of healthcare technology, and make sure a user centric approach is taken, positioning you correctly to not only survive, but thrive.

For instance: when developing the VegEze app – a diet app that encourages vegetable consumption in adults to meet meet the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines, we worked closely with industry leading partners and leveraged framrworks like Apple’s ResearchKit; we were able to measure sentiment and encourage people to eat three types of vegetables for their main meal every day, tracking their progress along the way and helping them learn more about nutrition and habit-forming behaviours. The result was always going to be success owing to the partnerships and the research that went into it. A partnership that can only be guaranteed by working with an Apple Consultants Network Partner like Bilue.

We have many more stories of partnerships with large, global brands like nib Group, GU and ACT Health.

We also work with companies to identify areas in their business where technology can have the most impact and we design, build, and test solutions that help them achieve their goals.

This could be anything from a mobile app that provides patients with real-time information (like the ACT mobile Health App), or a health insurance cover app, to helping you  work out the best way to integrate technology with your business – whether it is payment  technology, record management, digital signage or anything in between.

If you want to be a winner in the new, digital world of healthcare then it’s time to take action now – contact us!


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