Medical technology continued to evolve at a rapid pace in 2018. Accordingly, MedTech companies are now at the forefront of healthcare as they continue to build and launch solutions that dramatically change how care is both provided and received.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top MedTech trends of this past year, which will shed light on what to expect in 2019.
The Top 3 MedTech Trends of 2018
1. Telemedicine / Telehealth
One of the most notable MedTech trends of 2018 was the increasing prevalence of telehealth and telemedicine, or the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.
In March of 2018, Business Insider released a report stating that, “Many believe 2018 could be the tipping point for the telehealth market.”
According to Managed Healthcare Executive, this prediction was accurate:
“Direct-to-consumer (DTC) telemedicine is growing at an ever-expanding rate due to new phone, computer, app technology and patient demand. Now, patients can quickly assess healthcare providers for phone or video visits via their personal devices. For hospitals and providers, the big draw with virtual visits is the potential savings involved in replacing physician office visits and ER visits.”
Further, a survey conducted by Advisory Board found that 77% of respondents were highly interested in receiving healthcare virtually, and 19% had done so already.
The demand for telemedicine is increasing due to the simple fact that it’s such a convenient way to bridge the gap between physicians and patients. It gives the patient freedom and flexibility while serving as a viable solution to the following patient needs:
- Routine clinical appointments with physicians
- Health support in the form of medication-related reminders
- Assistance tracking health indicators such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels
- Advice on how to manage an ongoing health issue on a daily basis
Telemedicine brings the power of healthcare services to the patient’s pocket. Whereas in the past, patients were required to physically visit a doctor’s office in order to receive practically all forms of care, today they can go about their daily lives with less interruptance by simply using their smartphone to meet with doctors and receive support or reminders.
As long as digital communication tools continue to evolve and become a more integral part of society, we’ll continue to see telemedicine grow towards becoming the primary form of patient care.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic in healthcare for several years now.
According to research conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the AI health market is projected to grow to an estimated $6.6 billion by 2021, with a CAGR of 40%.
Over the course of 2018, we saw the prevalence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions in healthcare grow tremendously. This trend comes with a plethora of benefits, including but not limited to cost reduction for providers, and the fulfillment of patients’ demand for precision medicine.
But AI’s potential to revolutionize healthcare doesn’t stop there.
In fact, AI has the ability to transform pretty much any area of healthcare — from streamlining organizational workflows in hospitals, to helping with the diagnosis of complicated health conditions, AI can automate intricate processes, boost productivity, and improve the accuracy with which doctors can diagnosis particular conditions.
Plus, research from PwC shows that the majority of patients are ready and willing to substitute the care of traditional human physicians with the use of AI technologies. In terms of service preferences, patients were most enthusiastic about the following types of AI services:
- 37% of patients said that they would like to use AI technologies for heart condition monitoring (e.g. pulse, blood pressure, electrocardiography, etc.), symptom tracking, and for receiving advice on an existing heart condition.
- 35% of patients said that they would like to use AI technologies to administer a test that checks their heartbeat’s rhythm, and that makes recommendations based on the results.
- 34% of patients said that they would like to use AI technologies to receive customized advice for fitness and health based on their personal preferences and health records.
- 30% of patients said that they would like to use AI technologies to take and test a blood sample, and to provide them with the results.
As companies of all sizes — from startups, to major corporations like Microsoft and IBM — continue to invest in AI healthcare projects, it’s clear that in the near future we’ll see AI and machine learning technologies providing value across the entirety of the healthcare ecosystem.
3. Blockchain & Data Security
Healthcare naturally relies on mass amounts of patients’ personal data. This means that there are substantial security risks that must be accounted for, especially with cyber attacks and data breaches at an all-time high.
If a patient’s personal data is compromised — whether it’s altered or stolen — there can be dire consequences. However, if blockchain technologies are implemented, they allow for data decentralization which results in increased data security.
Blockchain-based healthcare systems can also be the solution to challenges such as data interoperability, integrity, security, portability, and more. Using blockchain for Electronic Health Records (EHR) also enables healthcare organizations to move sensitive data from the public to private sectors more efficiently, as well as more securely.
Thankfully, in 2018 we saw an increased use of blockchain technology in healthcare, as more and more organizations began using blockchain for securely storing and sharing patient data.
According to Statista, this trend isn’t slowing down any time soon. They predict that by 2020, 25% of healthcare applications worldwide will commercially deploy a blockchain solution to improve supply-chain management and patient identification. And by 2025, that number is projected to grow to 55%.
More and more industries that deal with mass amounts of sensitive data and/or personal information are shifting towards using blockchain technologies, and healthcare is no different. The organizations that fail to adopt blockchain will soon be viewed as less secure options for patients, and will therefore see a decrease in not only patient satisfaction, but their bottom lines as well.
While some consider the healthcare industry to be one that reacts to changes slowly compared to other verticals, there’s no denying that in 2018 we witnessed more and more healthcare organizations adopt new technologies.
At Koombea, we expect to continue to see this adoption of new technologies, as well as a shift towards outcome-based care, which will result in cost effective and patient-centric systems.
Curious about what the top MedTech trends for 2019 will be? Stay tuned to the Koombea blog for our 2019 predictions, coming soon!
Interested in capitalizing on these trends by building a MedTech solution of your own?
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