9 Medical Experts Predict the Future of Healthcare Delivery

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With the explosion of powerful technologies, digital platforms, and endless opportunities, the healthcare landscape right now is one of the most dynamic sectors.

Amid so many medical devices, software systems, and procedures to streamline the healthcare operations, minimize costs, and optimize the quality of care there’s a lot to be excited about!

But the availability of ample resources leads to chaos and confusion. If you are one of the people brainstorming about which technologies to focus in 2020 to get successful in the healthcare industry, the answer lies right here.

We have insights from the leading doctors about what they think which technologies will have the highest impact on the future of healthcare delivery. We’ve put together the responses to let you envision how technology will shape the future of healthcare delivery:

1. Atif Zafar, Medical Director At St. Michael’s Hospital

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

I think as primitive as healthcare currently is, the most practical innovations will impact primary care, mental health, the musculoskeletal system, and the tumor world. This is where most of the ‘wastage’ of money is. I used the word wastage, though the correct entrepreneurial term is ‘inefficient’. 

I think with the AI-driven insurance or self-pay models that will modulate individual patient care costs up and down based on data acquired from IoT setup in our patients’ home (e.g. BP/activity monitoring, compliance monitoring, dietary monitoring) will be the first system-wide change. Tele-health will continue to evolve rapidly. 

Tech firms will create home monitoring devices like an otoscope, ophthalmoscopes, neuro exam devices, etc to enable higher value tele-home physician evaluations. This will be the beginning. Followed by blockchain utilization that will remove bureaucratic hurdles of credentialing and patient data safety.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

AI and blockchains will drive 30% to 40% of the healthcare system. I think the more straightforward arenas, that have been made complex and convoluted by humans to increase middle-men consumption, and hence inefficiencies, will be the first to be disrupted and replaced. Such as insurance, credentialing, medication delivery, scheduling, etc. 

It will take a good 10 to 20 years of clean data collection, analysis, and modeling to eventually impact sophisticated medical areas that are handled by physicians. Those will be the last ones to be disrupted. VR will help improve patient experience of consultations and therapies. 

IoT will bring a revolutionary change in data-collection directly from the patients. It will raise discussions on patient privacy intrusion but in the end, the more compliant our patients, the more rebates and cheap the cost of their care is what they will get in return. So even privacy intrusion will not be an issue for many in 10 to 20 years from now.

2. Bob Baker, MD & Medical Keynote Speaker

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

Aside from the obvious ones such as telemedicine, I believe that we will have to give physicians tools to examine patients remotely. Perhaps it will be a simple stethoscope that the patient can plug into the audio channel of his/her computer.

High definition video magnification could be useful in diagnosing rashes and other skin lesions. I can imagine home finger stick blood tests such as those diabetics currently use being extended to other lab results—CBCs, urinalyses, etc.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

I think AI will (and indeed already is) help physicians with differential diagnoses and suggested diagnostic pathways. I would hope this would enable physicians and other providers to concentrate more on the human elements that are such an essential part of the healing process.

3. Harvey Castro, MD & CEO At Trusted Health Physicians & Author of Success Reinvention (L.I.O.N.) Open Networking

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

Post-COVID, Telemedicine has seen a huge increase in patients asking for this service. Another increase is in what I call “ In-home prevention/solutions” such as apps and home monitoring devices.

These devices are being used as supplements to help patients in health care. For example, iWatches, smart scales, and apps are all being used to create programs in health care. Someone with congestive heart failure can have a smart scale that sends the patient’s weight to their physician. 

The physician can track their weight and catch the disease early if the patient is going into “heart failure”. The patient’s medications can be adjusted accordingly potentially avoiding hospital admission.

In addition, the patient’s smartphone app can send notifications to advise them to adhere to a heart-healthy diet and ensure they are taking their medications as prescribed. The app could also prompt the patient to use the EKG on the iWatch to send results to the physician.

If the patient’s heart rate is above or below pre-selected parameters it can contact a relative and or physician saying this heart rate could be outside a safe zone. The app can also detect a fall and call 911 if the patient is unable to do so on their own.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to these two  VR and AI technologies. VR has so many different uses. I have seen different ways to use this technology in medicine. VR offers many options on both the physician and patient side.

This technology is becoming more cost-efficient for both the patient and the provider. This, in turn, is allowing for this technology to be more readily adapted by the population. This is good news in that it will help create more technologies to help patients. 

Some examples that I have seen great progress in is mental health. Patients are able to use VR along with their home devices to help with Biofeedback.

Patients can see using the VR “a beach” then they can begin to visualize this relaxing location to help lower their blood pressure and heart rate. They can help patients induce positive emotions and ultimately reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. This is a great tool to have. 

Another exciting technology is Artificial Intelligence. It is being used more and more and it is becoming a part of life. In medicine, it is helping physicians provide better care. For example, some electronic medical records have AI to help physicians evaluate the different diseases as part of their differential diagnosis.

The AI tools can also evaluate the medical record to see if it is complete and all the data needed has been entered. Having a “peripheral brain” using AI will continue to improve health care. 

AI will continue to improve and continue to help patients. I have seen this applied in many different areas. Recently, I saw AI being used in dermatology. The dermatologist takes a picture of a suspicious “skin spot”. 

The picture is entered into the program and the program prompts certain questions that the physician should ask. The program then gives them the most likely diagnosis based on the criteria. It is incredibly accurate. Having an extension of what I call a peripheral brain can help physicians. This will help decrease human errors.

4. Denise Gonzales, Experienced Medical Group and Hospital Physician Executive

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

Devices that can integrate with patients’ smart devices, patient portals, and EHRs will have the greatest impact. Having an open API platform that allows for simple and non-proprietary integration will accelerate those capabilities.

Unfortunately, HL7 interfaces and other APIs have been very proprietary and difficult to achieve. This may help a particular company’s edge however it slows innovation. 

Working in the ICU, I initially thought high-end interfaces such as telemetry, stethoscopes, ophthalmoscopes would be most important.

In actuality, basic devices such as peak flow meters, glucometers, weight scales, BP cuffs, medication adherence counters will have the most impact due to their low price point, ease of use, and the sheer size of the population who would use them, in comparison to an ICU population.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

I think VR, like the ICU applications above, will be a niche area in healthcare. It can help with remote instruction and supervision by sub-specialists to avoid transferring patients across great distances for inpatient care.

AI has applications in areas such as radiology and pathology to streamline interpretations and to point to areas of concern. 

Where I feel AI will have the greatest impact is for integrated healthcare organizations such as Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

Performing hypothesis-generating, AI-assisted analyses, can help identify populations in need of targeted interventions or behaviors by providers that are not high value. Some would characterize this as “big data” rather than AI.

5. Mark Luhovy, MD & COO At PhenoMx

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

The availability of an effective COVID-19 vaccine will certainly shape the future of healthcare delivery, as secondary (untreated chronic illnesses) and tertiary (psychosocial) coronavirus health impacts will remain unresolved until vaccines are widely available. 

The pandemic has solidified the adoption of telemedicine services, which are quite likely here to stay, as virtual visits are trending to exceed in-person visits in the near future.

With the transformation from in-person clinic visits to remote, virtual visits, integrative technologies such as 5G networks, interoperable EHR systems, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions, as well as wearables that collect and share personal health data, all stand to critically impact the future of healthcare delivery. 

Direct-to-consumer services also have the potential to strengthen patient investment in their own wellbeing.

For example, home drone delivery of prescription medications, the availability of reasonably priced whole-genome sequencing, and mobile imaging platforms capable of deployment into local neighborhoods each may promote community-based healthcare delivery.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

Virtual Reality stands to impact the future of health most immediately in an educational context, whether through adoption in pre-operative planning or in physician didactic training.

The future of the anatomy lab may look quite different than it does in the current day medical school curriculums. 

Similarly, preoperative planning without a VR case review may someday be unheard of. VR and spatial computing solutions may be used in both therapeutic and environmental contexts.

VR is currently being explored as distraction therapy, and may someday make its way into pain management or palliative care regimens. Future state telehealth consultations may take place in a virtual medical clinic, where avatars serve as a proxy to the patient presence in a community health center or hospital. 

During such visits, clinicians may access imaging studies or patient reports that can be discussed in real-time in the VR environment.

Additionally, the future lends itself to the possibility of a digital twin, where fully transcribed genetic and epigenetic risk factors, multi-omic data sets, and/or 3D tumor models are reviewed between doctor and patient.

Artificial Intelligence will be a mainstay within the next decade. AI computational power that exceeds human capabilities might be leveraged within healthcare to increase the precision of diagnosis, accurately predict the onset of future disease states, and if used appropriately, enhance the humane interaction between doctor and patient.

Repetitive tasks such as radiological image analysis lend itself to robotic process automation (RPA), through human interpretation, and governance will still be needed to provide context. 

Automation in medical robotics, an explosion of personalized health data through wearables and smart clothing, enhanced quality of life via the quantified self, and a blurring of the lines between the physical and digital realms may lead to future health practice that looks quite different from our current state.

AI shows tremendous potential but must first cross the chasm of proving a clinical, financial, and personal benefit to all parties involved in its use. 

6. Tanu S. Pandey, MD  & Regional Medical Director At UnitedHealth Group (US)

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

Telemedicine, artificial intelligence, and robotic surgery are the three main emerging technologies that will shape the future of healthcare delivery.

The core application of Telemedicine will be in follow-up care that does not need physical examination as well as in certain acute conditions like upper respiratory infections, urine infections, and rashes. 

Artificial intelligence will be implemented in public health, healthcare administration, medical devices, electronic medical records, personal wearable devices, and a host of other applications.

Using clinical weighted prevalence, predictive risk factors, and predictive response, artificial intelligence can be used for direct patient care to make a diagnosis based on symptoms, physical examination, and test results. Some of the common clinical applications will include:

  • Containing the risks of antibiotic resistance
  • Developing the next generation of radiology tools
  • Creating more precise analytics for pathology images
  • Advancing the use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment 
  • Revolutionizing clinical decision making with artificial intelligence at the bedside 
  • Clinical decision support systems
  • Automatic scheduling and reduction of wait times
  • Coding and billing
  • Early stage drug discovery
  • Education and training of workforce
  • Mental health services

One of the coolest applications of AI in psychiatry is the use of AVATAR therapy, where patients with serious mental health disorders like schizophrenia will get to mitigate auditory hallucinations using AVATARS of their imaginary characters. 

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

The advantages of AI in healthcare are many. This includes:

  • Improve efficiency and patient safety
  • Reduce cost of healthcare 
  • Supplement to medical care by humans especially in the Geriatric population:
    • Better clinical decision making 
    • Replace human judgement in certain areas of healthcare  (eg radiology)
    • Up-to-date evidence based medical information  
    • 24 x 7 availability of expert
  • Early diagnosis of disease
  • Prediction of outcome of the disease as well as treatment
  • Feedback  on treatment 
  • Reinforcement of non-pharmacological management 
  • Reduction of diagnostic and therapeutic errors 
  • Public health and population based research

Uses of AI in Health Administration and Public Health include:

  • Identifying high risk patients for hospital readmission
  • Inappropriate emergency room use 
  • Expanding access to care in underserved and developing regions
  • Getting prior approvals from health insurance for medications

Uses of AI in Health Technology will include:

  • Bringing intelligence to medical devices and machines
  • Monitoring health through wearables and personal devices
  • Making smartphone selfies into powerful diagnostic tools
  • Reducing the burdens of electronic health record use
  • Turning the electronic health record into a reliable risk predictor

7. Deepak Garipalli, Vice chair Of Medicine Department At Atrium Health (NC)

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

AI and VR Can help bring healthcare closer to communities and to their homes. It is creating true hope, and it is perfectly poised to transform the field of healthcare.

It will enable the physicians rather than to replace them, and help with the quick diagnosis and aid in much more directed and specific treatment options,  speed up the recovery of patients through virtual physical therapy, creating a personalized experience for the patients.

It will also aid In effective patient communication and care coordination, which can augment the healthcare delivery services.

Also it can enhance the learning experience of medical professionals that would make them more empathetic towards their patients. I strongly believe these technologies will shape the future of healthcare in many aspects.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

The standards of healthcare delivery will get a boost with these technologies, and at its best, it would streamline the services in a more efficient way and improve patient satisfaction.

I see the impact of VR & AI on healthcare,  will be real and personalized, tailoring to the most of present day unmet needs.

8. Maria Kunstadter, President At The TeleDentists Aka The Dentist Is IN

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

Virtual care provides access to millions of people who otherwise would not go to the dentist or doctor. Health care education delivered to you via your phone increases health literacy. Education increasing preventive care will reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

Diagnostically, AI improves radiographic readings tremendously—being able to “see more” things on radiographs and treat early will prevent bigger problems down the road.

Using AI for health literacy will also improve care when the consumer is more informed about their personal health issues. Virtual reality can be adapted for training without live patients, decreasing risk, but improving the volume of practice opportunities.

9. John DeBanto, Medical Doctor

Which technologies will shape the future of healthcare delivery?

I can see automated prescription delivery by drones, self -driving cars taking patients to doctors’ appointments, particular after sedation, and/or surgery in which the patient cannot drive.

AI is already being used to some degree in my field of gastroenterology to recognize certain types of polyps that need to be removed and which ones do not. The “speed of things”, such as 5G, as it relates information to a robotic arm performing a prostatectomy and others. Robots will assist surgeons and perform some without the surgeon’s hands needed.

What would be the impact of VR and AI on the future of health?

AI as above. VR for education purposes particularly medical students, putting them in a “real life” clinical situation and having them formulate and perform a plan of care.

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