The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a monumental healthcare crisis. Hospitals were overwhelmed with a surge in the number of patients requiring admission. On top of that, healthcare organizations had to grapple with staff shortages. Then there was the struggle of identifying disease trends and high-risk groups.
The good news is that the healthcare industry swiftly responded by adopting new technologies to overcome these challenges. While tech innovations have always played a crucial role in healthcare, they have now become indispensable to the industry.
From artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing – a plethora of cutting-edge technologies are modernizing the healthcare industry and shaping its future.
These technologies can be used to improve the quality of patient care, identify effective treatments for rare diseases and skyrocket the efficiency of healthcare workers.
This article will take a closer look at a few new-age tech innovations and their impact on healthcare.
Digital Transformation of Healthcare: A Quick Overview
The use of technology in healthcare isn’t a new phenomenon. Technological advancement has facilitated the development of new surgical techniques, diagnostic tools and treatment protocols. Also, it has helped healthcare organizations minimize expenses by automating various routine tasks.
But the modern era of healthcare isn’t going to be restricted to robots performing surgeries and virtual assistants staffing the front desk. It will be all about utilizing digital technologies to optimize various processes and uplift patient experience.
That is the reason many healthcare organizations are already actively investing in digital transformation. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 60% of respondents believe that their healthcare organizations are already midway through the digital transformation journey.
So, what are the tech innovations influencing the future of healthcare? Let us find out.
The concept of crowdsourcing isn’t new in the medical world. Physicians and surgeons have often utilized the technique to diagnose and treat rare ailments. Also, it can be used to identify useful alternative therapies for chronic diseases.
The only catch with crowdsourcing is that it overwhelms medical professionals with a cornucopia of data. Understanding the data to draw meaningful conclusions is a difficult task. It makes the process error-prone and inefficient.
That is where AI steps into the picture. AI-analyzed crowdsourcing platforms like StuffThatWorks deploy powerful algorithms to make sense of crowdsourced medical data. StuffThatWorks gathers data in the form of member reports submitted by patients with various illnesses. StuffThatWorks is proving to be the largest crowdsourced knowledge-base on chronic illnesses today.
The AI algorithm analyzes and interprets the data to identify the most indicative symptoms of a particular disorder. Similarly, the algorithm ranks different treatment methods according to effectiveness and prevalence.
Such platforms can go a long way to empower patients with accurate and reliable information about their health. While it isn’t a substitute for licensed medical professionals, AI-analyzed crowdsourcing can be instrumental in making quality healthcare accessible to patients in rural and remote areas.
Also, it could help patients understand how they can manage chronic ailments better with lifestyle changes and alternative therapies. That kind of information also comes in handy for medical professionals.
While AI has a diverse array of applications in the medical world, its integration with crowdsourcing is a game-changer.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Both AR and VR have been instrumental in modernizing various industries, including manufacturing and construction. The healthcare industry has also realized the benefits of using these technologies. They can be used to improve patient experience, facilitate treatment and train medical professionals.
For instance, VR headsets can be used to give patients an overview of critical surgeries. It could go a long way to alleviate a patient’s fear and anxiety before undergoing a surgical procedure.
Similarly, these devices can help mental health patients relax and get a grip on their emotions. They can even be used to help female patients deal with labor pain by visualizing calming landscapes.
Also, VR headsets come in handy for pain management. They can be used to take a patient’s mind away from painful stimuli. That makes them crucial for rehabilitating patients after surgeries and accidents.
Moreover, AR and VR-based software applications can be used to train surgeons. Also, they can be used to help surgeons practice complex surgeries before heading to the operating room. It’s crucial considering that VR-trained surgeons perform 230% better than those trained using conventional techniques.
AR and VR-powered training also improve the accuracy and speed of surgical procedures.
Additionally, these technologies can be used to familiarize future medical professionals with various equipment and tools. For instance, AR-based solutions were used to virtually train hospital staff and physicians to work with ventilators.
Similarly, AR-powered tech innovations, such as Microsoft HoloLens, are being used to educate medical students about the fine details of human anatomy without the need for actual cadavers.
As these technologies evolve, they’ll continue to skyrocket the efficiency and accuracy of future medical professionals.
3D printing is revolutionizing various aspects of healthcare – from building prosthetics to developing new drugs. Today, it is even possible to create artificial bio tissues and blood vessels using 3D printers. The technology will be instrumental in making healthcare more accessible and affordable to patients from all classes.
Big Data Analytics
The integration of digital technologies into healthcare has resulted in the emergence of a broad spectrum of data about patients. Data analytics tools play a key role in helping healthcare organizations make sense of the vast amounts of data.
These tools were instrumental in helping healthcare workers predict COVID-19 outbreaks in specific locations. Also, they helped identify patients who were more likely to require hospitalization due to the novel coronavirus. Similarly, these tools can be used to prioritize certain groups during COVID-19 vaccination drives.
While the digital transformation of healthcare had already been underway, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the process. Organizations are actively investing in various tech innovations, such as VR headsets and AI algorithms, to cut costs, maximize efficiency, and provide quality patient care.
Technologies, such as AI-analyzed crowdsourcing, can go a long way to make healthcare accessible to more patients. Similarly, 3D printing can reduce the cost of developing prosthetic limbs and artificial blood vessels.
Healthcare workers must stay informed of the latest technological advancements and understand their impact on the medical industry.