By Mudit Dandwate
Has there been a domain that’s been as fundamentally shaped and defined by technology as post-20th-century healthcare? Modern medicine is a culmination of many things—intensive research and scientific discovery glued together with the human need to adapt and improve themselves and society. And underpinning this sentiment is technology: its breathtaking scope has led to healthcare innovations that have revolutionised diagnosis, treatment, and patient support over the past few decades. And as technology evolves, the future holds the potential to get us closer to the dream of ‘Healthcare for all’.
One of the most important ways that technology has reshaped healthcare is in how we diagnose and treat patients. Not far ago, the diagnosis was often a guessing game, with doctors relying on their experience and intuition to make a determination. But with the advent of new technologies like contactless vital monitoring, genetic testing, and imaging, we are now able to get a much more accurate picture of what is going on inside the human body. This has led to more precise and effective treatments for conditions ranging from cancer to heart disease significantly improving the two north-star metrics of health – life expectancy and infant mortality
A clear takeaway based on the reflections from the past few years shows that the future of health care is going to be determined by the interplay between technology and the human touch. Here are the 3 key trends that transformed connected healthcare in recent times and the direction where it is headed
Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
As per a McKinsey Global Survey, artificial intelligence (AI) adoption has more than doubled and the adoption of this technology in healthcare—peaking in 2019 at 58 percent—and the level of its investment has increased, with more gains expected in the future. AI in healthcare is seen in several areas—including screening, diagnosis, and treatment—but one segment that has a marked effect on patient outcomes and experience is the use of connected systems and devices.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been disrupting almost every industry. However, the adoption of AI in the health sector is still in its infancy— its use is currently limited to screening and diagnosis. But the possibilities of its uses are endless – and we are only just scratching the surface of what AI can do in healthcare. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more amazing breakthroughs in connected health powered by AI. Hospitals and clinics are using AI-powered chatbots to help patients book appointments, get test results, and access their medical records. AI is also being used to diagnose diseases, identify potential drug interactions, and predict patient outcomes well in advance. AI is playing an even greater role in connected health, as devices such as contactless vital monitors have become more prevalent.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Early Warning System (EWS)
Remote patient monitoring, an important component of the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT)—an ecosystem of connected medical devices, gathers and records data using sensors, wearables, apps, and other digital tools before sending it to the patient’s healthcare provider. It can send alerts when a condition shifts or a patient needs medical attention. More widespread use of this technology will make it possible for medical professionals to keep an eye on a broader range of patients: This is crucial in areas with staffing shortages.
One such solution evolving out of India is contactless remote patient monitoring and early warning technology that allows digitization of vital trends, early detection of health problems, and real-time monitoring. With AI-powered connected health, we will be able to provide better healthcare to a wider audience at lower costs.
Contactless remote patient monitoring has the potential to transform healthcare across the globe. It can help to reduce workload and improve efficiency by enabling remote and continuous monitoring of multiple patients with clinical accuracy at once. Along with enhanced patient safety, contactless RPM can enable the digitalization of vital data and drive operational efficiencies.
Internet of Medical Things
The next ripple of healthcare connectivity is what the industry calls the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Like its better-known cousin, the Internet of Things, the promise of IoMT lies in its potential to integrate and adapt data from various sources and inputs.
Internet enabled medical devices and biosensors with wireless transmission capabilities are an increasingly important part of the IoMT. These devices use Near Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth to exchange data with other devices without the need for physical contact and transmit it to the internet using GSM and WiFi. This makes them convenient for both patients and healthcare providers, as well as reduce the possibility of infection transmission.
Contactless medical devices are already being used in a variety of settings, from hospitals to primary care clinics to adult daycare centers. They have been shown to improve patient safety and satisfaction, as well as provide efficiency. In the future, it is likely that the use of contactless medical devices will continue to grow, as they offer a number of advantages over traditional medical devices.
A connected future
Healthcare has historically been known to be resistant to change, but digital transformation has completely altered that notion. We are at a point where technology is magnifying human capabilities for enhanced healthcare delivery.
During India’s G20 presidency, digital health innovation, universal health coverage, and enhancing healthcare infrastructure will be major driving forces. Public finances may be limited in the coming years due to an increasing fiscal deficit and an increasing debt burden. Therefore, public-private partnerships (PPPs) would be essential for bridging this gap and encouraging economic growth.
To sum up, few of the emerging technologies in healthcare that are leading us toward a connected future include – Remotely administered surgeries that could provide quality surgical care to patients regardless of location, the hub and spoke model where each patient is at the center of their own healthcare network, with their electronic health record (EHR) serving as the hub and Connected ambulances with the ability to providereal-time to the hospital so that the patient can be immediately triaged upon arrival.
The above digital tools are still in various stages of adoption; however, as they spread, they could revolutionise the sector and perhaps be one of the first steps on our way to those futuristic self-diagnostic pods. To conclude, we will soon witness the ‘last mile’ of connected care as an industry priority in 2023 – 2025.
(The author is a CEO and Co-Founder of Dozee. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)