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Technology

What you need to know about the biggest technological advancements for healthcare and hospital management today.

Technology

Healthcare technology trends

A key area of development for the healthcare industry is in new technologies. New disruptive technologies and medical devices expected by healthcare professionals to transform their healthcare organisation over the next 5 years include Artifical Intelligence, big data, 3D printing, robotics, wearables, telemedicine, immersive media and IoT, among others.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare is the use of complex algorithms and software to emulate human cognition in the analysis, interpretation, and comprehension of complicated medical and healthcare data.

Tom Lawry, Microsoft’s National Director for AI, described AI as software with the ability to depict or mimic human brain functions such as vision, language, speech, search and knowledge – all applied in healthcare today in unique and emerging ways. Machine learning is driving a lot of AI today.

In our recent survey of healthcare professionals worldwide, government entities cited AI as the technology likely to have the biggest impact on their organisation. In addition, GCC respondents believe it will have the greatest impact, more than any other region worldwide.

AI has had an important role to play in the COVID-19 response worldwide, such as a real-time tracking platform created by Mayo Clinic; the use of a diagnostics tool for medical images; and a “digital stethoscope” to identify the acoustic signature of COVID-19.

3D printing

The FDA defines 3D printing as a process that creates a 3D object by building successive layers of raw material.

The global 3D printing medical device market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 17% during the forecast period of 2019-2026.

Despite these projections, 3D printing / additive manufacturing is not anticipated to be a major technology trend by respondents in our recent survey of healthcare professionals worldwide, voted behind digitalisation, artificial intelligence and big data. Also, relatively fewer people are trained to implement 3D printing in organisations.

3D printing technology can develop highly accurate and realistic anatomical models. For example, Stratasys launched a digital anatomy printer for training providers to 3D print materials replicating bone and tissue, and a 3D Printing Lab located at the Dubai Health Authority's Innovation Centre in the UAE provides medical professionals with patient-specific anatomical models.

3D printing has also contributed to the COVID-19 response around the world through manufacturing face shields, masks, respirator valves, electrical syringe pumps and more.

For instance, sustainable 3D masks were printed to combat the coronavirus in Abu Dhabi, and an anti-microbial device was 3D printed in the UK for healthcare workers in hospitals.

Blockchain

A blockchain is a growing list of records (blocks) linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data.

Research shows that blockchain technology has the potential to transform healthcare, placing the patient at the centre of the healthcare ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy and interoperability of health data.

Healthcare professionals worldwide are less convinced of blockchain’s potential impact however – in our recent survey of healthcare professionals worldwide, respondents cited blockchain as second from last in terms of expected impact on their organisation, marginally ahead of VR/AR. 

Immersive media

Immersive media includes virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

VR is a computer generated simulation of a 3D environment that can be physically interacted with using a helmet or screen. For example, Roomi blends virtual and augmented reality with animation and creative design, allowing hospitals to provide paediatric engagement while alleviating the anxiety children and parents face both in hospitals and at home.

AR is an interactive experience that blends computer-generation information into the real world.

The global augmented reality and virtual reality market in healthcare industry is expected to reach $10.82 billion by 2025, representing a 2019-2026 CAGR of 36.1%.

IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes devices connected to the internet. In a healthcare context, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) refers to medical devices that are connected.

The global IoT in healthcare market is expected to reach USD 176.82 billion by the end of 2026.

Telemedicine

While telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, both have different meanings. Telemedicine describes remote clinical services, while telehealth is used more broadly for non-clinical services delivered remotely. 

Telemedicine has been gaining recognition as a convenient and cost-effective way for patients to access a medical professional.

Available in different forms, telemedicine may be as simple as a phone call from a doctor or it can be delivered through a dedicated platform which enables the use of video calling and patient triaging.

The global telemedicine market size is expected to reach USD 155.1 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 15.1% over the forecast period.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for telemedicine is surging as hospitals come under increased pressure.

Wearables

Wearable technology (wearables) are electronic devices worn close to the skin, where they detect, analyse and transmit information.

Saudi megaproject NEOM, for example, will offer a Smart Mirror in the bathroom granting instance access to vital signs, and Dr NEOM, a virtually-enabled AI doctor that patients may consult anytime and anywhere. 

The global wearable healthcare devices market size is projected to reach USD 46.6 billion by 2025 from USD 18.4 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 20.5 percent from 2020 to 2025.

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