Healthcare industry has been slow in adopting digital transformation. In India, the healthcare and diagnostics industry is largely unorganized, with a large number of small set-ups such as clinics and pathology laboratories delivering fragmented healthcare services. However, with the rise of digital transformation coupled with multiple waves of the pandemic, healthcare industry had no other option but to reinvent itself to digitally cater to the needs of patients.
Healthcare industry is opening up to emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, Cloud and Big Data to deliver better care in real-time. Below mentioned are the newest technology trends that are transforming the healthcare industry:
Telemedicine – Telemedicine, also known as telehealth or e-medicine, is the remote delivery of healthcare services, including diagnosis and consultations, over the telecommunications infrastructure. It allows healthcare providers to examine, detect and treat patients without the need for an in-person visit. Patients can communicate with physicians from their homes by using their personal digital devices.
This trend really caught up during the lockdown, when it wasn’t wise or advisable to step out of the house for medical purposes. Hence, a lot of healthcare centers relied on telemedicine to deliver care to their patients. They offered digital platforms such as mobile apps wherein patient had to fill in their details such as vital stats, medical history, and concerns, and book an online consultation with the doctor. The doctor and patient will then join the virtual call at a stipulated time and discuss the case in detail. The call will generally end with the patient receiving further instructions — such as to take over-the-counter medication or go to a hospital or schedule a follow-up appointment based on the diagnosis.
Telemedicine not only saves patients’ time and effort but also leads to early detection and prevention of diseases. Through telemedicine, patients can be constantly in touch with their doctors and monitor their symptoms and progress.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare – The integration of artificial intelligence in healthcare services has great potential, it can transform the way such services are created and delivered. AI coupled with pattern recognition and decision-making similar to humans open up many possibilities. This technology can improve not only the speed but also precision and efficiency of healthcare services. Early diagnosis is possible through AI-driven analytics that enables healthcare providers to understand a patient’s history faster and deliver suitable treatment.
AI with its subset machine learning can improve drugs development by advancing the search for chemical and biological interactions. It also enables chatbots to give assistance to patients in terms of daily routine, diet, and habits that they must follow with a certain kind of treatment.
AI’s ability to merge with other emerging technologies such as smart wearables and edge computing can fast-track the entire healthcare process as it facilitates instant data collection, real-time processing, analyzing, and decision-making.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) – Various mobile devices and applications have come to play a critical role in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses for patients. By combining IoT with telemedicine and telehealth technologies, a new Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has emerged. IoMT allows healthcare providers to keep a track of data collected from patients’ smart wearables and through telemedicine deliver instant care to them. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) market is estimated to be worth 158.1 billion USD by 2022.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in Healthcare – AR and VR have the potential to enhance the quality of healthcare delivered over digital devices. From enhancing the experience of a virtual visit between a patient and doctor to helping educate medical students in procedure simulations, this technology is turning science fiction into reality.
In situations like a pandemic, where physical visit to a health center is not possible or if a patient is based at a remote location, AR and VR technologies improve self-diagnostics. Since a patient gets a three-dimensional vision of how to conduct a self-diagnosis, they are better equipped to perform it.
Digital transformation in healthcare is a commencement of a patient-focused approach to healthcare. It helps healthcare providers to streamline operations, optimize systems, reduce human errors, lower costs and most importantly, deliver better care to patients across geographies.