Technological innovations and developments in IT are transforming the healthcare industry at every level. From fostering better relationships between patient and caregiver, to facilitating improved and more valuable data analysis, the potential rewards offered by modern technology for all stakeholders is significant. Here are three examples of areas of technology that are changing the face of healthcare for the better.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence, which can be defined simply as the simulation of human intelligence processes (such as learning and reasoning) by computer systems, has been disrupting other industries for several years, with tech, telecoms, and financial services leading the charge in this space. But as the benefits of AI become more widely recognized, particularly increases in profit margins as a result of AI adoption, healthcare is starting to take more notice of this growing trend.
According to a piece of research by PwC, three-quarters of healthcare executives plan to invest in AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics in the next three years. Some of the main drivers behind AI investment are being able to automate day-to-day tasks such as routine paperwork (82%), scheduling (79%), timesheet entry (78%), and accounting (69%).
The appetite for AI may be strong, but in order to realize its full potential, organizations must invest in the right technology and skills – the same piece of PwC research revealed that just one in five organizations currently have the ability to implement AI effectively. Acquiring these capabilities, whether it’s via third-party technology companies, internal hiring, or a combination of both will be key for organizations that intend on getting the most out of AI in the future.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Broadly speaking, the term IoT (the Internet of Things) encompasses everything that is connected to the internet. More commonly, the term is being used to describe physical devices, appliances, and tools that possess an ability to transfer data over a network, or “talk” to each other.
IoT usage in healthcare has seen major growth in recent years, but thus far its practical applications have been fairly limited. One the largest IoT growth areas has been in consumer wearables, which has not only allowed users to take better control of their own health decisions, but has also facilitated better relationships between patients and healthcare providers.
IoT is already redefining healthcare as we know it, but with the technology still very much in its infancy, there’s a lot more to come. A major challenge of IoT in healthcare is the management of the data collected by devices, and as such the widespread success of IoT will largely depend on how healthcare organizations are able to turn that data into meaningful insights. Which brings us on to the final point…
Big data analytics
Healthcare organizations struggle to handle the high volumes of data they collect, and the data that is collected is often underutilized. As technology becomes more prominent and more sophisticated, data will increase in both volume and accuracy, which will leave organizations with little choice but to invest in the tools required to turn those numbers into valuable insights.
Through using big data analytics solutions, organizations are able to analyze vast amounts of data in minutes, to reveal previously unseen patterns and behaviors. This speed and accuracy allows organizations to make smarter decisions, benefitting the organization itself and its patients. For example, analyzing trends in big data can help caregivers identify illnesses quicker and with better accuracy, while health insurance companies can use historic patient health information to offer bespoke insurance products. When it comes to big data, healthcare has really only started to explore the tip of the iceberg.
Healthcare IT is evolving faster than ever before, and the organizations that are able to incorporate the likes of IoT, AI, and big data analytics into their workflows will triumph over those who do not.