5 technology trends and their implications in 2020
1. Wearable devices will bring deep data insights and challenges
Once the domain of early adopters, wearable devices are poised to help medical professionals collect a wealth of data from an increasingly diverse user group. This will take the form of remote patient monitoring, in which specialist devices track metrics such as blood pressure and glucose levels, as well as through fitness trackers and devices such as the Apple Watch that can identify signs of atrial fibrillation, among others.
As a research tool, technology is gaining ground. In September, Apple announced three cutting-edge studies — on women’s health, heart health and noise exposure — in collaboration with leading medical institutions. Over 400,000 Apple Watch users agreed to participate.
However, the movement presents major interoperability and interpretation challenges for providers.
“As a clinician, I don’t have time to manage a flood of data – where does my team filter that and feed me the important bits?” said Matthews. “And do I expose myself to more medical liability because I receive information about my patient’s condition but do not act on it, because I am busy doing everything I have to do instead of monitoring data streams?”
READ MORE: Learn how Ochsner uses Apple Watch to keep patients healthy.
2. Artificial intelligence will improve diagnosis, process and safety
Increasingly, AI is becoming central to healthcare. As healthcare threats increase in number and severity, AI can be used to recognize unusual behavior on a network, monitor fraud threats, and predict malware infections based on previously identified, among other security measures.
Technology is also help patients gain more control over their own care, with tools that include chatbots for quick help with minor ailments, and wearable devices like smart shirts that can log health data and produce predictive capabilities. It can also be used to develop algorithms that help oncologists offer in-depth insights into biopsy readings.
Many of these applications, however, remain segmented, which presents a barrier to comprehensive care. “Artificial intelligence right now is mostly about individual companies with a variable and an AI algorithm solving a problem,” says Matthews.
That’s why he expects to see alliances develop between tech companies and healthcare organizations, as well as tools that serve a dual purpose: “What I think we’ll see in the next couple of years are algorithms that interpret multiple data sources at the same time from different variables.Once you have that, the sky is the limit.
3. Telehealth will expand its reach and the scope of its services
More and more physicians, health systems and medical specialties are providing telehealth services. As insurers offer reimbursements for telehealth — and the scope of telehealth coverage for Medicare Advantage enrollees expands — the the benefits will continue to be more evident. An elderly person recovering in post-acute care, for example, could receive a consultation in front of the camera without the physical and financial cost of travel.
Regardless of a user’s age or condition, familiarity with the concept will prompt wider adoption.
“I think FaceTime and Google Chat have really opened up people’s willingness to do things remotely; you are comfortable talking with your grandmother on Skype, so you also understand that this is a normal type of communication that you can have with the clinician,” says Matthews, noting that all Americans don’t have high-speed internet coverage or personal technology to support it. .
Such exchanges will increasingly go beyond a patient’s typical providers to encompass a wide range of care needs, he adds. This is crucial for people living in rural or underserved areas who need specialist care: “You call for more serious cases or situations, and you are ready to entrust someone who is far away to make the correct diagnosis for you.