Healthcare is changing, it is going digital, and this is good news for patients and healthcare providers.
From telemedicine to genomics, digital transformation in healthcare has the potential to improve patient outcomes, make healthcare as much about prevention as curative treatments, and reduce the overall cost of medical treatment.
As life expectancies have increased around the world, ageing populations have had an impact on healthcare provisions. Lifestyle choices, particularly in Western countries, also have a negative impact on healthcare provisions. Combined, lifestyle-related health issues that cause non-communicable diseases contribute to 75% of deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Quality of life, for patients and those caring for them, suffers.
Economically, non-communicable diseases and poor lifestyle choices could cost the global economy $47 trillion by 2030, according to World Economic Forum data.
Let's look at how digital technology can improve care coordination and patient outcomes.
1. Preventative lifestyle apps
It is always better to cure than provide a treatment.
When it comes to fitness, diets and lifestyle, health apps can support consumers making better choices. There are many popular apps and wearable that can help people to track what they eat, how much they exercise (steps taken, activity levels, etc.), and whether they're smoking, drinking or making other choices that have known negative health consequences.
Lifestyle apps don't need to be prescribed by a doctor, and they do require will-power and honesty on the part of the person using them, but they can have a positive health impact. Progressive IT companies often use gamification and social elements in apps, making it easier for people to engage with others doing the same activity and feel rewarded when they exercise and make smarter health choices.
2. Ongoing treatment apps
Some diseases and conditions require close monitoring. However, it isn't always feasible or possible for a doctor to spend as much time looking after individual patients as needed. One way around this problem is with digital healthcare services.
Apps and devices can more closely monitor the health of a patient and this is one of the major ways of how mobile technology is transforming healthcare. Some diseases require easy-to-administer tests that patents can take at home, others need health vitals monitoring, whereas others need patients to take regular quizzes to let their doctor know how they are feeling. Or all of the above. And then with this information, a doctor or healthcare team can take action whenever needed. This way, preventative cures can be administered before a patient required more serious medical treatment, with better outcomes and lower costs for everyone.
Decades ago, we mapped the human genome. Projects are still ongoing to map the DNA of every species on this planet.
Now, we are entering the next round of technology disruption in healthcare. With AI and quantum computing on the horizon, we have the capabilities to truly personalized testing and treatment that could transform our relationship with the worst diseases we face as humans. In time, we can hopefully eliminate cancer and other diseases for good.
4. Big data in medicine
Data is everywhere in the medical profession. One of the main challenges healthcare, pharma and insurance providers are wrestling with is generating useful insights from a wide variety of sources. Health records, wearable data, medical apps, and dozens of other platforms contain countless valuable insights.
With machine learning, AI and new ways of organising data to make it easier to connect with other sources, the healthcare sector is slowly going to transform as new healthcare technology trends, insights, treatments and data are uncovered. These innovations drive forward the evolution of digital hospital platforms giving them the ability to offer data-driven care to patients.
Healthcare providers are under strain everywhere, whether you live in a country where healthcare is public, private or a hybrid.
One way to reduce that strain is to provide telemedicine services. It can also introduce more choice for patients. Letting them to speak to a doctor via the phone or an app makes it easier to diagnose non-life threatening conditions and provide a prescription. It will reduce incorrect diagnosis, since this is more accurate than a patient searching for symptoms online without the guidance of knowledge of a medical professional.
These are a few of the ways that digital technology can transform healthcare. We are stepping into a world where patients will have more choice, health providers should be under less strain and preventative health is driving improved outcomes and the health of billions around the world.