In 2021 digital healthcare has become commonplace. In the wake of COVID-19, with many consumers having used and enjoyed the ease that digital healthcare provides, this platform is around to stay. This is not to say it will replace the traditional in person visits, but supplemental digital healthcare is the way of the future. In this article we will take a look at where digital healthcare is headed, and significant trends that will guide the development of new digital healthcare innovations.
Ease of Accessibility for Seniors
The primary interest in the ability to contact a medical professional through a digital platform, is the ease of accessibility. This opens up many new possibilities for safely aging in place as pertaining to seniors. In one study conducted, 77 percent of individuals over the age of 55 would prefer to age in place, however about half that number actually believe that this is possible.
As the beginning of the large population proportion known as the “baby boomers” reach their seventies, there is a very high demand for accessible and consumer friendly digital healthcare options. This combined with the desire to age in place, provides a large market growth opportunity for digital healthcare innovators.
The barrier to this of course, is technology fluency in the older age groups. Statistics do show that a larger number of seniors are gravitating toward using smartphones every year, but there is still a learning curve. Check out these telehealth tips for seniors looking to utilize digital healthcare in order to retain agency throughout the aging process.
The convenience of tracking devices used to monitor vitals no longer looks like it did even ten years in the past. With wearable devices, medical professionals can have near constant access to important vital information for their patients. This constant influx of data allows for improved monitoring in crucial situations, as well as being able to differentiate between a crisis and an overreaction.
About 28 percent of hospital visits are taken up by repeat visitors, individuals who think that something’s wrong when what’s happening does not rise to the level of hospital care. By having access to more data, healthcare professionals are easily able to identify those that are high-risk and provide them with immediate options. This reduces overall cost and improves patient quality of care.
Greater access to data also allows for predictive staffing. Through analysis of organized data for an entire medical entity, administrators will be able to better anticipate the needs for staffing. This helps to expedite patient care, eliminate overhead costs and better prepare the organization in the event of a pandemic or medical catastrophe.
Advancements in Chronic Pain Management
In addition to the ongoing global pandemic, another important crisis the US healthcare system is facing is the rising opioid epidemic. In recent years, Virtual Reality treatment for chronic pain sufferers has emerged as a viable alternative to commonly prescribed pain management medications. With a record number of individuals already addicted or suffering annually from chronic pain we need solutions. Advancements in VR have led to the development of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device, known as TENS, that is proven to help reduce overall pain.
In years to come, the trends in innovation for digital healthcare will be dictated by ongoing healthcare crises in the population as a whole. Advancements such as VR treatment, will guide the industry toward addressing immediate problems and creating a better overall system.
Development of Medical AI
Artificial intelligence is also moving toward center stage in the healthcare community. The uses for AI range from predictive data analysis to robotic nursing assistants. Hospitals around the US are already implementing the use of ChatBots for incoming patient phone calls, and virtual healthcare assistance. This frees the human healthcare professionals up to focus on important patient interaction.
Some hospitals in Texas have begun the introduction of a robot called Moxi that was created to help with restocking and fetching supplies for medical staff. AI is not a concept only relegated to sci-fi movies, it is currently impacting healthcare in a very real way.
Beyond AI being used in robotics, there’s a movement toward preventive data analytics. Rather than treatments for diseases being viewed in a one size fits all manner, this new technology is moving toward an individualized treatment plan. Through the analysis of data from many patients, previous paths to success can be documented and re-enacted. AI extrapolates from gathered data to predict which course of treatment would be most effective for a specific individual, hopefully leading toward a higher success rate in curing disease.
From telehealth to AI, advancements in digital healthcare are impacting the way we look at preventative care already. As we look to the future, one can expect improved individualized healthcare plans, streamlined result-driven data analysis and accessibility that elevates quality of life. The benefits of this trend have already been observed during the previous tumultuous year, and there are only exciting new developments to look forward to.