The Innovative Future of Healthcare: Three Empowering Tech Trends

The future of healthcare is digital, and the ongoing pandemic is undoubtedly accelerating this transition. According to HIMSS, 80% of health systems plan to increase their investment in digital health in the next five years, with 58% planning to spend at least $10 million annually by 2026. This trend has proven true for both clinicians and patients, with 75% and 50% of those surveyed supporting the use of digital health tools, respectively [1]. Here are the three technologies that are helping to shape the healthcare landscape of tomorrow.

Virtual Healthcare

McKinsey estimates the current adoption rate of telehealth services to be 38 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, up to $250 million worth of healthcare services can be virtualized. The public’s favorable attitude toward remote healthcare largely contributes to such an optimistic estimation. Of the respondents, 40% plan to continue using virtual services even after the pandemic is over. Moreover, up to 60% of those surveyed are interested in a hybrid plan with virtual services, including less expensive virtual-first healthcare [2]. Virtual healthcare undoubtedly remains a strategic priority for medical institutions. Indeed, investment in telemedicine reached $4.3 billion in 2021, 139% higher than that of 2019[3].

The benefits of virtual healthcare are unquestionable. From the provider side, telehealth helps free up capacity and protect hospitals from a sudden surge in demand. The UK National Health Service (NHS) recently utilized telemedicine to cope with rising COVID cases caused by the Omicron variant. Under the “virtual wards” system, patients are remotely monitored and treated using monitoring apps, wearables and devices such as pulse oximeters. Data generated from these devices is sent to and analyzed by medical staff, and advice is given accordingly. With futher expansion, the NHS plans to treat 15% of COVID patients with this “virtual wards” system[4]. Post-COVID, virtual healthcare will continue to prove helpful to combat potential staff shortages and aging populations. In the US alone, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a 37,000-124,000 shortfall of physicians by 2034 [5]. Investing in telehealth is one way to mitigate the looming talent crunch crisis.

Artificial Intelligence

AI has recently emerged as a game-changer for the healthcare industry. It is estimated that the AI healthcare market will grow from $6.9 billion in 2021 to $67.4 billion by 2027 [6]. The impact of AI in healthcare is far-reaching as back-office operations and clinical activities such as diagnosis and care delivery will both benefit. Another area in which AI has significantly contributed is diagnostics. In fact, AI applications have long been praised for improving diagnostic accuracy and opening new doors that were previously closed to human-based solutions. Take the collaboration between the NHS and HeartFlow as an example. The NHS has employed HeartFlow’s AI technology to assist in the diagnosis of coronary heart disease. The AI platform uses data from a patient’s CTA scan to create a personalized, digital 3D model of the patient’s heart. It then uses an advanced algorithm to simulate blood flow and how blockages could impact the patient’s coronary arteries. Prior to this technology, diagnosis of the disease was performed using a highly invasive and time-consuming technique called coronary angiography, which involves inserting a long, thin tube into the patient’s blood vessels and injecting a special dye. Such applications of AI have allowed Newcastle Hospital to offer the CTA-first approach to more patients than previously thought possible (45% compared to 28%) [7]. In turn, this reduces the patients’ risk and time spent at the clinic, which translates into cost-savings for the hospital. When scaled across the NHS, HeartFlow’s AI platform is predicted to save £9.1 million annually for the UK health system [8].

Data Analytics

Thanks to modern technology, healthcare data is now widely available. Both traditional data gathered from medical records, scans and prescriptions as well as new information extracted from wearables, smart devices and even social media can be effectively used by healthcare professionals. In 2013, healthcare data was estimated to reach 4 trillion gigabytes, and projections estimate the number to be 10 times higher now. Of that quantity, approximately 80% is unstructured [9]. Making sense of this large pool of data requires effective implementation of data analytics, which, when coupled with next-gen technology such as machine learning (a subfield of AI), would yield meaningful impacts. For example, Stevens Institute of Technology utilized AI to forecast future flu outbreaks 15 weeks in advance with an 11% increase in accuracy rate. Using machine learning, the organization was able to find hidden patterns by exploring the interaction between time and place, which allowed them to make more precise forecasts than previous methods [10]. Similarly, machine learning was utilized to predict suicide attempts in as little time as seven days before they could occur. These predictions yield a significantly higher accuracy rate than traditional methods because conventional forecast tools can only study risk factors in isolation, whereas machine learning can analyze hundreds of factors together [11]. Although these studies are only in the research phase, such positive results signal a bright future for scalable application of data analytics in healthcare.

A digital transformation marathon

The healthcare sector lagged behind in the digital transformation (DX) race pre-COVID, but the pandemic has brought DX to the forefront of corporate strategy. According to Accenture, medical organizations are compressing decades’ worth of DX effort into a 2–3 year timeline, with 93% of the respondents accelerating innovations with a sense of urgency [12]. Despite the pressure, medical institutions should keep in mind that successful DX implementation requires more than just technology adoption. Having a clear DX roadmap, measurable ROI targets, comprehensive change management and an experienced partner to lean on are keys to wining the DX marathon.

FPT Software – Accompanying the future of healthcare

With more than 15 years of experience in digital health, FPT Software has become a trusted partner of more than 50 medical institutions worldwide, including IHH Healthcare, Hitachi Aloka and MedAdvisor. The company provides information technology outsourcing (ITO) and digital transformation (DX) services to optimize internal and customer-facing systems, bringing forward critical improvements and measurable business values. Highly experienced in virtual healthcare, AI and data analytics, FPT Software has helped global organizations strengthen their healthcare capabilities. One of FPT Software’s prominent projects involves developing an AI-powered system that analyzes patients’ movement to help detect early signs of immobility, joint conditions, and stroke with an accuracy rate of 95% - a significant increase from pre-tech solutions.

Interested in discussing this topic further with FPT Software experts and helping shape the future of healthcare? Join us at HIMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition, one the world’s largest healthcare events, March 14–18 in Orlando, Florida. Our experts will be present at booth 3515 with comprehensive insights into healthcare tech trends, their applications and how to get started.

Learn more at https://www.fpt-software.com/industries/digital-healthcare/

[1] HIMSS. 2021 Future of Healthcare Report.

[2] McKinsey & Company. Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality?

[3] PwC. Global Top Health Industry Issues 2021.

[4] The Times. Covid patients treated at home to protect NHS.

[5] AMMC. AAMC Report Reinforces Mounting Physician Shortage.

[6] Markets and Markets. Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Market.

[7] Med Tech Innovations. NHS mandates AI-powered analysis to treat coronary heart disease.

[8] Medical Device Network. NHS adopts HeartFlow’s AI technology to tackle coronary heart disease.

[9] PwC. Five distinct trends are converging to determine how artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will define New Health.

[10] Stevens Institute of Technology. A.I. Tool Provides More Accurate Flu Forecasts.

[11] SAGE. Predicting Risk of Suicide Attempts Over Time Through Machine Learning.

[12] Accenture. Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021.

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