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Digital trends in the healthcare industry in 2021

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Healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transformation with digitisation at the forefront.

Over the years, digitisation has revolutionised the healthcare industry. There have been numerous digital transformations that have positively impacted the sector, allowing corporations and professionals to diversify. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, many aspects of the healthcare industry have irrevocably changed, enabling people to change their perspective on digitisation. Gone are the days when introducing digital elements was seen as a feasible shift towards modernisation, today reduction of staff, faultless decision-making and reliance on home-based medicine has become an urgency, instead of a conscious move. However, as we embrace the new normal, the healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transformation, dominated by digitisation. According to a report published by Jabil, 92 per cent of healthcare solutions have taken the digital route for increased consumer usage. Hence, this column will explore some trends to look forward to as we welcome 2021 with a positive attitude and mindset.

Healthcare industry’s backbone – Artificial Intelligence

In the recent past, the usage of artificial intelligence in the industry has gained tremendous momentum. Although it may seem costly at first glance, research suggests that this technology can save up to US$150 billion annually by 2026. With the aid of AI in the medical environment, Accenture regards this as the new nervous system of the industry. Some of the trending applications of AI include using them for caregiving, nursing, chatbots systems, robot-assisted surgery, virtual health assistants, medical dosage, diagnosis, precision medicine, cybersecurity and many others. 

Artificial Intelligence has been prominent in the medical product development division as well. Previously, the entire process of creating, developing and dispatching medical drugs was time-consuming. Now, with the aid of AI, pharmacists can safely explore biological and chemical interactions efficiently and effectively. 

Internet of medical things

In general, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that are connected via the internet. These include wearables, smart beds, ECG, connected inhalers, EKG monitors and other amenities. This is one digital trend that has witnessed significant growth. In 2019 alone, wearables such as smartwatches and other gadgets accounted for a whopping US$24.4 billion. By 2029, they are predicted to grow up to US$285.5 billion.

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will help healthcare facilities to monitor patients at homes and in fact, at any part of the world. Such connected devices will ensure that users who take their medications are monitored and make sure they attend their reminders and alarms. Some of the sought-after amenities of IoMT include checking glucose, blood-sugar levels, oxygen, measurement, healthy lifestyle monitoring, fitness tracking and even weight control.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine has played a very important role in shaping the facilities for people from rural areas to get access to doctors and specialists; thereby saving those extra hours of travel. However, with the pandemic, this has become a popular trend where it no longer applies to only people from underdeveloped places. This is one of the main reasons for corporations to actively invest in the development of these medical spheres. It has been reported that by the end of 2025, the global telemedicine market is set to cross US$113 billion. Up until now, the industry is dominated by platforms with video applications. Today, patients can easily video call their physicians with working internet, allowing them to successfully convey their concerns and get the necessary medical supervision. In one way, telehealth has contributed to providing better solutions to treat chronic illnesses. While telemedicine has been of utmost relevance in the industry, it has slowly started branching out and creating a wider target market that can enjoy its benefits.

Virtual/augmented reality

This trend has posed significant advances in the healthcare industry, from medical education to diagnosis. This specialisation has become a key enabler in fostering the overall sector where the market is projected to reach US$5.1 billion by 2025. Some of the major applications of this technology include emergency response where necessary information can be retrieved without wasting time. Another application is in the line of prevention and diagnosis for diverse conditions. With the aid of augmented reality, doctors use cameras to compare examinations and replicate the effects of treatment. Lastly, VR and AR are used in medical education. For instance, surgeons can rehearse their procedures to accomplish real operations effectively and efficiently.

There is no doubt that the healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transformation with digitisation at the forefront. However, what perhaps corporations and professionals must do is prepare for these anticipated trends.

Dr Sanjay Batheja, Co-Founder & Director, Capital College copy.jpg

Dr Batheja ventured into the education industry in 1998 with a vision to offer affordable, flexible and quality assured education to the UAE students. In line with this vision, he has successfully developed structured programmes in the field of healthcare, business, management and HR and has guided students to win awards and ignite their entrepreneurial journey.

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