In 2020, the healthcare industry doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as it advances toward a model that is solely based on value rather than volume. Ageing and growing populations, and exponential progress in innovative, but expensive, digital technologies continue to increase the demand for health care innovations and scope for investing in this niche.
Healthcare stakeholders struggling to manage operational, clinical and financial challenges envisage an industry in which new care delivery and business models, aided by the latest technologies, may help solve today’s problems and build a sustainable foundation for accessible, affordable, high-quality health care.
This vision may have a greater possibility of becoming a reality if all stakeholders earnestly participate in shaping the future—by shifting focus on new HealthTech innovations that support early intervention, prevention, and holistic wellbeing.
There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the digital healthcare space than right now. With the explosion of content capabilities and endless social opportunities – there’s a whole lot of stuff to be excited about.
Let us explore a few major HealthTech innovations every stakeholder should have in mind for 2020.
1. 3D Print remedies
The future is already here with 3D Printing. For the time being, hospitals are humbly making use of 3D printers for small plastics, but the technology is setting itself up to recast medicine in such areas as implants and prostheses.
An increasing number of hospitals are now using 3D operating models that authorize surgeons to exercise complex operations before they actually walk into the operating room. Practicing beforehand not only helps surgeons go about surgeries more quickly, but also allows them to test innovative practices to be more self- assured of their success. The 3D printing technique allows hospitals to create precise models of a patient’s organs for detailed practice.
3D bioprinting might also be the way out for organ shortages happening across the globe, as well as to the increasing unwillingness to test new cosmetic, chemical and pharmaceutical products on animals.
While this technology is still in its early stages, some companies are trying their luck in the market. Scientists at the Spanish Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Europe have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter in collaboration with the bioengineering firm BioDan Group. This bioprinter can create entirely functional human skin.
There is realistic anticipation of having medicines 3D printed, tailored to meet a patient’s needs. We are talking about patented molecules and bioprinting here. Ordinary drugs are generally pressed and molded. A bioprinter, on the other hand, builds a capsule layer by layer without compressing it. Now, since thin layers dissolve much quicker, the body will absorb the capsule faster when produced through a bioprinter. With certain diseases like epilepsy or stroke, such speed is critical at times.
2. Artificial Intelligence
According to a recent report, the US healthcare industry can create annual savings of $150 billion by 2026 by incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.
Various applications of AI technology have an unmatched capability to transform medical tasks and healthcare processes in the future – and it has already started its imperceptible revolution.
For example, from non-traditional health data, and statistics on measles vaccination rates and disease outbreaks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including social media and syndromic observation data generated by software that extracts a huge amount of medical records sources, an algorithm can furnish a reliable map of future measles outbreak hotspots.
AI technology is also gaining momentum in the customer service realm. The planet is, in all probability, going to see healthcare bots very soon. Patients will be able to communicate with these AI bots on the website through means of a chat window or via telephone.
Healthcare bots will be used to organize appointments with the patient’s healthcare provider. They can help patients with their medication and also improve customer service by providing 24×7 support.
Accurately identifying the cancer cells in a tissue sample is key to successful treatment. When Genomics is combined with AI and machine learning, it becomes increasingly possible to detect and diagnose diseases such as cancer and some vascular diseases at an early stage.
In one study, the same AI that Google makes use of to identify objects online was coached to recognize forms of cancer. It then located two forms in a tissue sample as precisely as a human could, that too within seconds. AI has also been used to model the accurate dosage of a cancer drug to shrink tumors and cause minimal toxic side effects while doing so.
Moreover, AI can foretell the health issues patients might face some time in the future based on their genes. It can also help with the machining of medical parts, thus lowering the chances of error in operation.
Blockchain can be defined as a distributed database that is designed in such a smart way that whatever is added to this database, that is immutable. As if something has been carved into stone, any change becomes evident immediately.
As the blocks are impossible to alter, you cannot change or delete anything without leaving a trace. This is extremely critical in the case of health data. It could secure clinical trial records, health records or ensure regulatory compliance. Some countries like the Republic of Estonia, are already progressing on the path of digitalization by guaranteeing the security of its citizens’ health records through blockchain.
In pharma, the most evident use of blockchain is fighting against counterfeit drugs and securing the supply chain. Pharmaceutical companies, distributors, manufacturers, regulators and just about every component of the healthcare supply chain could profit from the transaction tracking blockchain provides.
For instance, every time a company entered into a transaction with another company in the supply chain, that transaction would be recorded and endorsed on the blockchain. This would allow product recipients to validate their provenance with greater certainty and ease out the transfer of data. It would also significantly simplify data transfers and transaction reconciliations.
Ensuring and keeping track of compliance is a major concern for providers all across. Blockchain can simplify the quest for documentation and compliance by authorizing companies to more easily keep track of audits, product recalls, tracking product distributions against ethical necessities, and credentialing. And under scenarios where reporting is necessary, companies can benefit from the smart contract logic to ensure certain actions set off necessary reporting on the basis of the data stored within the blockchain.
Every few years, there are only some new ideas that possess the potential of transforming entire industries. The genome-editing method, CRISPR has this outstanding ability.
Scientists have already used gene-editing to create mosquitoes that are almost completely resistant to the parasite that causes malaria. Some researchers also believe that in the near future, we will have the opportunity to correct the cells in our immune systems with CRISPR, hence making them less susceptible or even resistant to cancer and help them kill these malicious entities in time.
Synthetic DNA production has already been initiated and it will continue to grow in the coming year, giving researchers affordable, speedy and secure access to any DNA sequences they may require.
Finally, developments in methods for the isolation of single cells are on their way. The main objective here is to issue the most accurate and detailed picture of cellular genetics to this day, which will have significant influences on our comprehension of the stem cells, embryo development, neural and immune systems, even with only a single cell at hand for analysis.
The prospects for robotic applications in healthcare are far-reaching, and all are predicted to change the way in which health care systems and hospitals are being managed. By 2020, surgical robotics sales are expected to almost double to $6.4 billion, according to a recent report by Allied Market Research.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute have been testing and running clinical trials on exceptionally micro-sized – smaller than a millimeter – robots that quite literally swim through bodily fluids; and could be used to supply medical relief or drugs in a highly targeted manner. These microbots are scallop-like and are designed to swim through non-Newtonian fluids, like bloodstream in our case, across the slippery goo on the surface of the eyeballs or around the lymphatic system.
Disinfecting rooms, assisting surgeries, dispensing medication, keeping company: believe it or not, these are only a few everyday tasks medical robots will shortly take up in hospitals, pharmacies, or even your nearest physician’s office. Robots are everywhere in healthcare – and their number is only going to go up in the future.
The big question that lies ahead of us is,” In a marketplace flooded with startups coming up with solutions to revolutionize the healthcare industry, how do you get the best ideas and bridge the gap between these companies and the health systems that could greatly benefit from them?”
Looking back at 2019, certain areas of healthcare saw outstanding growth in particular – telehealth became mainstream, particularly in the US, where there has been a considerable surge in the use of teleconferencing solutions for care delivery.
This growth in the acquirement of remote consultations is empowering new delivery models in several areas of health, but behavioral change and mental health are both areas where major development has been noticed.
An increase in the number of services contributing towards the opportunity to consult with specialists teamed with a growing acceptance by patients to converse with their care professionals in this way means that we are starting to see a whole shift in the market for such a provision.
As for 2020, let’s sit back and watch how our predictions begin to shape themselves and what other innovations the year gets along.