Saying that healthcare is changing is a bit like saying it’s breezy on top of Mount Everest. In other words, change is a massive understatement. A word like transforming may be more appropriate to describe the state of healthcare today, with tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), predictive platforms, robotic surgery, health wearables and more.
Until recently, many hospitals and health networks had a citadel-like feeling that seemed walled-off and distant to many patients. But today’s medicine is tearing down the citadel walls and replacing it with a healthcare system that is built on using technology for prevention, treatment and improved health outcomes. Here are some of our predictions from what’s in store in 2019:
1. Health Wearables
Seeing how many steps a day you’ve taken by looking at your Fitbit or iPhone is fun, but not all that functional. Someday that feature will seem quaint as health wearables, powered by AI and IoT, will explode to include wearable devices for medical diagnostics and screening, virtual sensors and data transmission in real time.
Collected data will also become more sophisticated and predictive of health status and risk, moving beyond 10,000 steps a day to more holistic diagnostics such as PAI, or Personal Activity Intelligence, an activity metric that is proven to reduce cardiovascular risk by an average of 25 percent through personalized exercise guidance that optimizes cardiorespiratory fitness levels.
Healthcare providers will have access to patient data that covers an entire day and, assisted by AI, make better decisions to further improve health outcomes. It will also save healthcare providers money with Northwestern University researchers predicting hospitals will save up to $200 billion over 25 years in 2020. Conferences and exhibitions featuring wearables are multiplying in number, illustrating the appetite for this technology.
2. 3D Printing
Does your patient need a new knee? The technology should advance enough in 2019 that 3D “parts” should become a reality. 3D printing of a device like an artificial knee or hip allows for each one to be tailored to meet the specific needs of the patient.
3. Blockchain Technology
Long the domain of Bitcoin and Monero, blockchain and its node, ledger-based, anonymous, decentralized technology is leaving its “dark web” roots behind and going mainstream.
Harnessing the technological ability that blockchain offers could save over $5 billion a year in healthcare costs in the U.S., according to Health Care Global. By providing transparency and eliminating third-party intermediaries, processes are streamlined, reducing healthcare costs exponentially.
This unlocks the ability for providers to deliver a value-based healthcare system and enhance patient engagement. These massive savings can be turned into providing better direct care to patients, and that will improve outcomes.
4. Improved Patient Engagement
Patient engagement platforms like PatientBond will continue to help replace the “citadel of medicine” with a seamless, integrated life of wellness where healthcare providers are a click, call or text away. Better communications result in better outcomes, as these examples show.
And it’s not just hospitals that have the power to use patient engagement to improve health outcomes. For example, a large, private health plan recently asked for PatientBond’s help with health and wellness initiatives designed to increase member actions and engagement for key quality measures.
PatientBond used psychographic insights to create communications designed to motivate members to complete specific essential preventive health screenings. Results included a 57 percent increase in response rates to a colon cancer screening letter, a 41.8 percent response rate to the wellness rewards initiative and a 57.8 percent response rate to the health risk assessment. Read more in this case study.
5. Artificial Intelligence
AI-infused technologies are transforming hospitals, helping with everything from data collection and analysis, surgeries, predictive analytics and streamlining and prioritizing data.
According to Beckers Hospital Review: “AI for healthcare IT application will cross $1.7 billion by 2019. By operationalizing AI platforms across select healthcare workflows, organizations may see a 10 to 15 percent gain in productivity during the next two to three years.”
Artificial intelligence won’t just continue to transform hospitals. Patients will bring it home with them with diagnostic and wearable devices with exciting possibilities for the prevention and treatment of conditions such as heart disease.
PatientBond is one of the companies laying the groundwork for this technology with its highly configurable, digital communications platform that uses psychographic messaging to extend care beyond the hospital walls and programs including the American Heart Association (AHA) Health Motivation Platform.
What are your predictions for healthcare and health outcomes in 2019?