Innovative technological advancements have given several industries the ability to grow substantially throughout the digital age. In the world of health care, medical technology is one of many divisions in the industry that has taken off at a rapid pace, and it’s not going to stop any time soon.
“There’s no segment of the healthcare industry that is not significantly changing,” editor in chief Mark Hagland wrote for Healthcare Informatics Institute. “But more importantly, the signposts seem to be getting clearer and more closely spaced apart these days—and that is significant.”
Health care is becoming more technologically driven by the minute, and it’s helping professionals in the field provide efficient and proactive health maintenance for patients. In fact, research by McKinsey Global Institute found that the use of data analytics itself could save nearly $300 billion in health care. Let’s take a closer look at some of the 2017 digital trends to keep an eye on in the ever-changing industry:
1. Digital interventions
Consumer-facing technology is popular among most industries, and in 2017, it will trend substantially in health care. Digital health-centered apps are using health, behavioral and contextual data to provide information that helps health care professionals provide better quality care, according to Mobi Health News. By monitoring factors such as glucose levels, sleep, weight, food and activity, hospitals find new, efficient ways to target diabetes, mental health and respiratory illness. Such applications have been so compelling that insurance and pharmaceutical companies are now interested in integrating digital interventions to improve patient outcomes and communications, as well as set themselves apart from their competitors.
2. Artificial intelligence
Business process automation, such as speech recognition and decision-making, will be more prevalent in the future of health care. According to a Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive Systems and Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide from the International Data Corporation, artificial intelligence funding has been predicted to increase from $8 billion in 2016 to $47 billion in 2020. David Schubmehl, research director of Cognitive Systems and Content Analytics at IDC, said artificial intelligence will impact all industries in the near future.
“Software developers and end user organizations have already begun the process of embedding and deploying cognitive/artificial intelligence into almost every kind of enterprise application or process,” he said. “Recent announcements by several large technology vendors and the booming venture capital market for AI startups illustrate the need for organizations to be planning and undertaking strategies that incorporate these wide-ranging technologies. Identifying, understanding, and acting on the use cases, technologies, and growth opportunities for cognitive/AI systems will be a differentiating factor for most enterprises and the digital disruption caused by these technologies will be significant.”
Research predicts the health care industry will experience significant growth over the forecasting period, with a compound annual growth rate of 69.3 percent.
3. Precision medicine
Researchers are looking to develop more precise treatments for chronic conditions and diseases through precision medicine. According to the National Institutes of Health, precision medicine is a “groundbreaking approach” that uses individual environmental, genes and lifestyle differences to develop new prevention and treatment options. The All of Us Research Program, developed by the NIH, is building a large-scale research enterprise with at least 1 million volunteers who will share biological samples, genetic and dietary data via electronic health records. Using this information, researchers will work on developing specialized treatment for individual diseases and conditions.
The All of Us Research Program has received funding awards and began building infrastructure for the project, and it is set to recruit participants and take off in 2017.
4. Prescriptive analytics
Prescriptive analytics uses mathematical and technological sciences to find the best course of action to take when a problem presents itself. The tool will help health care professionals maximize the solutions they already have in place and assist the new innovative ideas that develop in the future.
In the 2017: The Year Ahead in Health IT survey by Healthcare IT News, 63 percent of the participants reported they planned to invest in prescriptive analytics in 2017. This emerging technology has made quite the impression on health professionals given 26 percent of the survey’s respondents also said prescriptive analytics shows the most promise for the industry. Genomics tools, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing and blockchain all followed. Joe Fisne, associate chief information officer at Geisinger Health System, said analyzing such data can spearhead quality patient care.
“Prescriptive analytics is right on the money, which ties in with some of the artificial intelligence and machine learning, the things we do to look at the volume of information we have collected,” he told Healthcare IT News. “The data gives us a lot of the patterns and information, and by seeing those you see ways to provide better patient care.”
5. The need for greater cybersecurity
As the use of telehealth continues to increase, the need for data protection will continue to grow as well. In the same survey conducted by Healthcare IT News, 52 respondents said they’d update security technologies in 2017 over any other types. Fisne said he understands the popularity and believes health care professionals will benefit substantially if they continue investing in and updating cybersecurity.
“From the standpoint of security being No. 1, it certainly is one of the most critical things in healthcare today,” he said. “We are in an age where technology has extended so far into the realm of healthcare that it has become one of the most critical things, so the heightened need for security follows. And analytics is key, as well. We are investing in some of the Big Data platforms to take information and demonstrate trends, practices and patterns of care, as well as patterns of illness along the way. And that goes hand in hand with population health.”
As health information technology and other digital health solutions continue to surface, the need for specialized medical professionals in the industry will continue to grow. By enrolling in the Master of Health Informatics program at the University of Cincinnati, you’ll discover new digital trends and prepare for the future of health IT. With the acquired knowledge and skills you’ll gain after completing your master’s degree, you can help develop solutions for the problems that may surface as the world of digital health expands.