With every passing year, advancements in medical technology change the landscape of diagnostics and treatment in healthcare. The digital revolution enables tech experts to provide smart solutions to problems experienced by medical professionals and patients.
Devices, apps, Artificial Intelligence, tech touches every sector of the healthcare industry. Here are the top five trends to consider in 2018.
1. Patient Portals
A recent CDW Healthcare survey suggests that less than 30% of patients believe their healthcare provider can benefit from implementing tech in their operations.
Some healthcare facilities already offer a patient portal that allows patients to track their treatment and medical history. These institutions note a marked improvement in patient interactions while improving the level of service delivery by medical staff.
In 2018 we can expect to see a further move toward patient portals that focus on delivering a user-friendly experience to patients. Portals allow medical facilities and professionals to take a patient-focused approach to diagnostics, treatment, and care.
2. 3D Printing
This technology offers a world of possibilities for medical innovations. 3D printed heart valves, bones, and joints provide patients with a new lease on life. While we may still be a decade or so away from the first 3D printed organ, innovations in the sector point toward the advancement of this technology in the decade to come.
Recent guidance on 3D printing to the medical community by Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, suggests that the technology will alter the practice of medicine, enabling patients to receive treatment explicitly designed for their biological needs.
3D printing is set for a big year in 2018, with more than a dozen highly talented engineers bringing new products to market. The annual RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) conference saw record attendance last year, with one of the most popular presentations being 3D printing for producing prosthetic limbs.
Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI,) show promising results. The field of radiology is set to benefit from this tech, where its use in imaging studies enhances diagnosis. Radiology exams are potentially dangerous to both patients and healthcare professionals. Modern safety equipment from Kemper Medical, Inc. also protects everyone while in the exam room.
Doctors that use X-rays to search for signs of chronic disease and infection, such as tumors, have less chance of misinterpreting the data with AI.
Algorithms process imagery against a database of billions of results in just a few seconds, providing medical professionals with advanced detection capabilities. Therefore, AI reduces the need for re-examination and equates to less time in the exam room.
AI presents opportunities to scan for asymptomatic conditions such as abnormal fat deposits in the liver, as well as coronary artery calcifications, and osteoporosis.
4. Medical Devices
Revenues from medical devices exceed that of pharmaceutical products in 2017 and 2018 thus far. The broad utility of wearable devices allows for the accurate measurement and tracking of health markers. These devices track a variety of biological functions including heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, and breathing.
Medical professionals rely on smart devices to provide them with accurate, around-the-clock, patient monitoring. As the baby-boomer generation reaches their senior years, tech holds the key to extended longevity and optimal healthcare.
The wearable technology market is expected to grow by nearly 17% in 2018. Projections anticipate over 500 million devices sold by 2021, with over $14 billion in annual revenue.
In May 2017, a ransomware virus, “WannaCry,” infected the networks of hundreds of healthcare facilities all around the globe. The virus encrypted all network data, including patient files. Hackers demanded the administration of the facility pay a ransom on the cryptocurrency, bitcoin, to restore the network.
Blockchain technology, the code which supports the bitcoin protocol, could ironically provide the security solution to prevent against cyber-attacks. Developers are exploring blockchain applications in EMR/HER systems to prove their utility.
Major players such as Google and Microsoft believe the blockchain to be the future of securely handling patient data.
Technological innovation in the healthcare sector is moving at breakneck speed. Over the course of 2018, these trends in diagnostics and treatment will save many thousands of lives. As we progress into the future, it’s a certainty that tech will keep adding value to medical professionals and patients.
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