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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

The six key trends driving the future of digital healthcare

As the healthcare industry is modernized, these are the six digital trends influencing the healthcare industry.

The six key trends driving the future of digital healthcare
[RFBSIP/AdobeStock]

In 2022, the rate of technological change is influencing every industry, and healthcare is no exception. During the past two years of COVID-19, the world learned to adapt quickly, ushering in the rise of telehealth services, medical apps, and platforms. These tools allowed doctors to fulfill their duty of saving lives while maintaining a safe distance from patients.

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Alongside digitalization, legacy systems are still needed as they continue facilitating the healthcare services we receive today. Eventually, the goal is to modernize the healthcare industry by enhancing execution and safety while maintaining the same level of accessibility. Let’s dive into the trends to see how the digital world is influencing the healthcare industry.

1. TELEHEALTH ASSISTANCE

When healthcare in rural regions was limited, telehealth allowed underserved patients to get the help they needed via telephone or webcams. In the pre-pandemic era, these services had major restrictions that didn’t allow them to be widely used. However, after the outbreak of COVID-19, telehealth services became an essential part of the healthcare industry. Now, you have access to a variety of medical apps that help you make an online appointment and receive a consultation without ever needing to leave the house.

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2. DATA SHARING

The invention of wearable devices has spiked a profound interest in the health data they collect. In 2020, Deloitte conducted a consumer survey where the majority of consumers claimed they are ready to share their medical data to enhance their health. Besides improving their own health, the data gathered from wearable devices can help improve the health of the entire population and enhance clinical research and diagnosing in general.

3. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN HEALTHCARE

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During the pandemic, artificial intelligence (AI) confirmed its significance for the future of healthcare. From anticipating the worldwide spread of COVID-19 and examining the virus’ influence on mental health to helping analyze CT scans, AI improves the efficiency of analyzing global data. The impact of advanced technology is immense. It helps free up the time of clinical teams, which is crucial when people’s lives are at stake.

4. AUGMENTED REALITY & VIRTUAL REALITY

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies have great potential to significantly improve the healthcare industry. For instance, VR already helps surgeons plan and perform complicated surgeries and eases patient discomfort with a number of different options instead of just taking a Vicodin pill. Especially for those who struggle with chronic pain, anxiety, or PTSD, VR comes as a safer and potentially more efficient alternative to drugs. As for AR technology, it is widely used by surgeons in the form of headsets that provide extra information to the practitioners while they are performing surgeries.

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5. BLOCKCHAIN HEALTH RECORDS

Even though blockchain has an arguable reputation, it is anticipated to reach a value of $890.5 million in the healthcare market by 2023. Simply put, a blockchain is a database of transactions that can assist in keeping and storing electronic health records. Blockchain has already proved to be an effective instrument for improving accuracy and stopping data violations in countries such as Australia and the U.K. Thus, blockchain has solved the problem of fragmented medical records that used to lead to misdiagnosis and even death.

6. BIOPRINTING

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Bioprinting is a method of creating 3D-printed human organs. As surreal as it sounds, that’s the future of healthcare that has already reached the stage of clinical testing. It works similarly to creating a standard 3D-printed object, but in this case, we are printing organs. First, a digital model of the tissue is created. Ideally, the organ should be created using the cells of the future host so that the probability of rejection is lower. Bioprinting has already been around for quite some time, but its development has stalled due to the risks involved.

HEALTHCARE TRENDS OF 2022

While these are the current trends, healthcare technology will continue to improve every year to deliver more effective and efficient tools that keep us alive. Virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, the internet of things (IoT), and blockchain will continue to enhance the healthcare industry. This tech gives surgeons, nurses, and other medical workers more opportunities to focus on things that technology cannot replace—care.

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Andrei Kasyanau, CEO of Glorium Technologies gloriumtech.com

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