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Healthcare Digital Transformation Trends In 2020

Healthcare digital transformation has been a boon the last few years.

In fact, the global market for healthcare digital transformation is estimated to be valued at $210 billion in 2025, up from $76 billion in 2018.

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly as providers adopt technologies that help improve experiences. Whether it’s connected equipment onsite, wearables, or telemedicine, uses vary wildly and are being pursued fervently.

Many of these advanced technologies have been driven by consumer expectations of the health sector.

Patients are increasingly looking for more digital interactions in their healthcare, and providers are using technology to help them meet those needs, and additionally to improve working processes in their places of work through automation and AI.

78% of patients say they would like online access to their medical histories, and 59% of millennials say they would switch doctors for one with better online access

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the biggest healthcare digital transformation trends that are shaping the industry in 2020.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine has proven one of the most successful innovations of the last five years.

In 2015, 5% of physicians reported using having ever used telehealth in some manner. In 2019, that figure had risen to 22%, an increase of 340%.

Doctors are using it more than ever, and patients appear to be happy with its outcomes, reporting that telemedicine appointments resolved their issues 85% of the time, as opposed to just 64% of the time for in-person appointments.

This isn’t to say that telemedicine is better than traditional appointments, and it’s worth considering what types of visits are resolved with each method.

What it does indicate is that for certain kinds of appointments that might not warrant a face-to-face visit, telemedicine dramatically improves patient satisfaction with waiting times and ease-of-use.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by physicians either, 90% of whom agree that virtual care for patients is beneficial for increased access, communication, and satisfaction.

Don’t expect telemedicine to go anywhere anytime soon.

For providers considering implementing a telemedicine program, make sure you get a technology partner that can offer you HIPAA compliance for your data.

AI

Artificial intelligence can seem quite a way off for small businesses, especially when you read about surgical robots and other medical marvels that are being centered around AI.

The truth about AI, however, is that its uses are incredibly varied, and it’s just as useful to a small business as it is any large corporation.

Let’s just take one simple example: AI virtual assistants.

AI has of course found enormous popularity in other sectors, like e-commerce, for example, where users frequently use the help of chatbots in their decision-making.

Use in medicine has increased significantly as providers look to improve efficiencies in their service and cut waste.

The global healthcare virtual assistant market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.7% from 2018 to reach $1.76 billion by 2025.

Just as telemedicine is being used by practitioners to improve waiting times for patients, AI can equally be used for diagnostic purposes, for promoting and improving physical activity, and cognitive and behavioral therapy for psychiatric and somatic disorders.

There’s still a long way to go for virtual assistants, but current indications suggest that their application in long-term therapy is potentially an extremely useful tool for physicians.

In a survey, 42% of physicians believed that virtual assistants/chatbots are either very important (9%) or somewhat important (33%) in health care, whereas 26% believed that they are somewhat unimportant (18%) or very unimportant (8%); and 32% of physicians were undecided at present.

Healthcare AI investment statistics.

Digital Twin

Digital twin originated as an engineering concept. NASA, for example, built replicas of ships it sent to outer space in order to give themselves a clear representation of the craft on the ground that they could study in real-time.

This same principle has in recent years been applied to medicine.

The idea here is that a profile can built up of a patient by analyzing record data and history—including information from sensors and other medical devices—allowing practitioners to gain a clear understanding of their normal physical state.

Should you regress from this state, it is then possible for the practitioner to be alerted before it becomes a more significant issue.

This could help prevent major health issues, like cardiovascular disease. It also has implications in other areas too. Prior to surgery, for example, surgeons can see what medical state you should be recovering back to post-operation.

Though digital twin technology is still in its infancy, the market is growing at a significant rate—the market was estimated at $3 Billion in 2018 and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of over 28% between 2019 and 2025.

Wearables and IoT

The Internet of Things has become a focal point in virtually every industry, and SMBs are taking advantage of the technology in their offices.

Healthcare providers are no exception.

There are wearable devices available to consumers for a vast array of uses. Here’s a few examples:

  • Fitness trackers: FitBits are probably the best known example, equipped with sensors to help users track their physical activity and monitor their heart rate
  • ECG devices: Help users monitor their heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, temperature, and activity
  • Blood pressure monitors: Use oscillometric technology to measure blood pressure

These are a few notable devices that consumers are more regularly using today.

According to Business Insider Intelligence research, the total installed base of fitness tracker and health-based wearables in the US will grow at an annualized rate of 10% to surpass 120 million by 2023—that will be just over a third of the total US population.

What does this mean for healthcare providers?

Well, consider the amount of data that is being created and stored on these devices.

Many of these allow users to share their information to their physicians, allowing them a stream of vital information, helping them diagnose issues before they develop into something critical, a valuable source for disease prevention.

Say for example a patient is sending you information about their blood pressure. An automated system could flag for you when there’s a consistent negative trend in the data, giving you the opportunity to deal with it before it’s too late.

Research from Augusta University Medical Center showed that a studied wearable device registered an 89% reduction in patient deterioration into preventable cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Cloud Technology

Now we can hardly talk about all the interesting aspects of healthcare digital transformation trends without a quick word on the everyday importance of the cloud for healthcare providers.

In 2018, the global market for healthcare cloud technology was worth $20 billion. By 2025, that figure is expected to almost double to around $55 billion. The North American market alone is today worth over $8.5 billion.

These trends we’ve been talking about today? Every single one of them has to be supported in one way or another by cloud technology.

The rapid proliferation of data that we’re currently seeing around the world needs to be housed somewhere, and that’s why cloud adoption is such an important part of a modern healthcare provider.

Furthermore, healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries regarding data relating to patient records and other sensitive information.

Providers must be in compliance with HIPAA and secure their data from the rising threats of cyberattacks, which are increasing year-on-year.

To meet these challenges, providers must invest in their cloud tech as a way to properly safeguard their data for the future and avoid costly fines by complying with standards and regulations.

Advanced technology solutions help companies achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. Through leveraging the tools available, you can increase productivity and decrease waste. For more information about cloud technology solutions and how they can help your SMB, download our free eBook, “Which Cloud Option Is Right For Your Business?”