Health innovation is the application of changes that result in better healthcare and health systems. The term “health innovation” can refer to advances in medical science, technology, or policy.
Many companies are investing heavily in creating innovations for every part of health services and delivery. From genetics to hospitals to insurance, there are plenty of areas ripe for disruption and improvement. Let’s look at some tech trends in the healthcare industry.
AI in health
We’re in the midst of an AI revolution, and healthcare is no exception. Artificial intelligence promises to do for healthcare what it has done for other industries: transform a system that is overburdened by data and layer on layers of efficiencies. In health, those efficiencies mean breaking down barriers between different sources of information and using them to improve our understanding of diseases, discover new drugs and enhance treatments. It also means amplifying our workforces with smart algorithms that can help manage health records, review medical images and assist with surgical procedures.
Privacy and security of healthcare data
When data is held on physical media, such as USB flash drives or paper files, it can be stolen or lost. The same goes for digital data stored in a local computer system. There is also the possibility of human error and deliberate sabotage by disgruntled staff who have access to medical records.
To counter these risks, healthcare companies are using secure cloud storage with encryption, smart cards, and biometrics systems to protect sensitive medical information. These measures make it much harder for unauthorized people to access or steal confidential files, even if they target specific employees and try to gain access through them. As a result, sensitive medical records are becoming increasingly protected from theft or loss because of human error–making it much more difficult for cybercriminals to get their hands on this kind of valuable information.
Remote healthcare is one of the most exciting aspects of health innovation. The innovations in this space are promising to improve access, efficiency, and outcomes. Remote healthcare solutions come in many forms and are often referred to as telemedicine or remote monitoring.
Telemedicine allows patients, who may have trouble traveling to a medical facility for care, to consult with their physicians from their own homes or other remote locations by video conferencing or phone call. Remote monitoring technologies allow patients and clinicians to monitor patient health data from a distance through mobile health devices such as wearables or sensors that collect biometric data about the patient (e.g., blood pressure readings) which can then be shared with the treating physician.
Cloud computing in healthcare
Cloud computing has revolutionized how businesses around the world operate. The healthcare industry is no exception to this trend, and in recent years, several changes have taken place within the healthcare sector because of this increased reliance on cloud computing.
One of the biggest ways that cloud computing has affected health care is through improved patient care and patient experience. With more and more hospitals moving to electronic medical records, doctors will no longer have to rely on complicated systems to track patients’ medical history and records. Instead, they can simply access all of this information from one central location with cloud-based servers. This means that doctors can decide about patient care more quickly than before because they won’t have to gather information from different sources; instead, everything will be available at their fingertips!
Tech in Mental Health
Tech solutions are already being used in mental health, and not just by the people who need them. One of the most promising is something you’re probably wearing right now: a smartwatch or fitness tracker.
Most devices can measure heart rate variability, which is how long your heart has to rest between beats. That’s an important indicator of stress level—the more stressed you are, the closer together your heartbeats are, and vice versa. Being able to track and monitor that without having to breathe into a tube at the doctor’s office a few times each year can be huge for people with chronic anxiety and panic disorders.
Smartphone apps for mindfulness and meditation have proved very useful for reducing stress—and even though this is a journalistic article about trends in healthcare technology, my editorial experience here suggests that everyone could do with less stress. Realistically speaking, what else would you rather spend your time doing than taking a moment or two every day to quiet your mind? You’ll thank yourself later!
Other tech solutions include online therapy chatbots that encourage patients with certain conditions to open up—sometimes more than they would face-to-face—and interactive web communities where those who feel isolated can find support from others who may be going through similar things. Those are both great ways to help make sure nobody feels like they’re facing their problems alone.