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Key Healthcare Technology Trends Driving Change in The Sector

Digital healthcare is an enormous sector. Its rapid growth is accelerated by rising patient care costs, growing consumer expectations as well as the recent global pandemic situation. So what is the outlook for digital healthcare in 2020 and beyond? Here are the top healthcare technology trends that can help enable better outcomes at lower costs. 

Data science will continue to drive healthcare outcomes

Healthcare generates enormous quantities of data. There’s little debate that there is a tremendous insight to be mined from this vast data lake – leading to improved patient outcomes.

Today’s data science tools, including predictive analytics and AI sciences such as machine learning, draw much deeper insight, much faster. We think 2020 will continue to see dramatic advances in the way data science contributes to healthcare outcomes.

For example, Microsoft uses machine learning to distinguish between healthy tissue and tumours, with Project InnerEye using AI to help medical experts with surgical and radiotherapy planning.

Indeed, through 2020 we expect data science to continue to prove essential to addressing the three critical challenges of healthcare:

  • Data science will help assess risks and assist healthcare providers in triaging and the planning of care.
  • AI approaches will continue to improve diagnosis, provide novel treatment options, and give physicians better guidance towards treatment and prescription decisions.
  • Population data will drive deeper insight into public health issues and will help governments and healthcare providers put in place strong, preventative measures.

Of course, data science is likely to be critical in alleviating the COVID-19 crisis, informing everything from treatment options through to the pace at which normal social interactions can be resumed.

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Automation – reducing the cost of healthcare

Robotic process automation (RPA) and other automation tools are growing in prominence, with KPMG predicting a USD 5bn market in 2020. As one of the top healthcare technology trends, RPA can help enable greater productivity at lower costs.

We know that RPA can deliver quick wins for time-pressured staff – and staff pressure is a common issue in healthcare. For example, a single medical incident can trigger a complex patchwork of insurance claims with seemingly endless paperwork. RPA speeds up the process automating tedious, manual insurance tasks to dramatically improve claim efficiency – reducing the cost base for providers.

In the broad, automated approaches to healthcare processes act in a similar way to automation in any other industry setting. Automation reduces manual steps, wastage, and errors. In an era where there is unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems around the globe, automation is set to provide marked relief – throughout 2020.

While automation can significantly increase productivity in the healthcare field, RPA instances can also introduce additional security vulnerabilities. Check out this whitepaper addressing the top 10 security risks in robotic process automation.

Technology and the human side of healthcare

Humans are at the core of the healthcare industry. While technology is often about the technical and the procedural, technology also has a human face. In healthcare, the human face of technology can be as powerful as data science and AI in delivering improved outcomes.

Virtual healthcare is one example – and a very poignant example in 2020. First, given cost pressures in the health system, it’s hard to ignore the cost-saving benefit of virtual healthcare. However, virtual healthcare is also about access and that’s perhaps the most important aspect in 2020, and beyond – when healthcare provisioning often must be performed at distance.

For example, digital twin technology is quickly emerging as a way to enable highly targeted care, allowing to prevent and treat health conditions efficiently. Digital twins can deliver tangible benefits by emulating health conditions. Researchers can use data from patient-worn sensors, like Apple Watch or Fitbit, to create a digital twin which is essentially a "backup of a patient's physical state" before a treatment procedure.

Then there’s the simple interaction layer. Humans must interact with healthcare providers on a regular basis, but with time-pressured, loaded staff, healthcare providers are sometimes not able to provide primary healthcare consulting in a timely, well-organized and cost-effective manner.

According to the Harvard Business Review, tech-driven cost benefits could amount to USD 10bn annually across the U.S. healthcare system.

Chatbots and voice technology can support patients in a variety of ways, from assisting with the booking process to guiding them through assessments, recognising and analysing symptoms through chat conversions. Data collected by chatbots can help doctors to save extra time as well as assist in decision-making concerning treatment procedures and care.

Harnessing the multi-stranded power of healthcare technology trends

Voice enablement, digital twins, RPA, automation, machine learning, AI, data science… healthcare technology is a broad and complex field. How can healthcare providers navigate the vast arsenal of healthcare technology tools during what is perhaps one of the most disruptive years in recent memory? Engaging with a technology partner that has deep expertise across the entire information technology field is a good start.

At ELEKS, we have years of experience helping transform the healthcare sector. Moreover, we’ve developed our own healthcare solution for unified clinical data management and process automation. It gives us insight and skills to empower every aspect of your healthcare business.

Get in touch with us to see how we can help your organisation stay ahead of 2020's healthcare technology trends.

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sam fleming
Sam Fleming
President, Fleming-AOD