The healthcare industry is not just a bunch of pharmaceutical and insurance companies. The entire healthcare industry comprises thousands of companies in various sectors, from cardiology laboratories to glass vial manufacturers.

While healthcare access is always an important subject, the pandemic in 2020 really showed us the importance of the healthcare industry adapting and mobilizing against disaster scenarios. Technology is constantly evolving in healthcare and has many critical benefits, such as AI helping develop vaccinations.

In this article, we’re going to highlight several key healthcare sectors where medical biotechnology is changing the entire landscape in the 2020s.

Blood samples without needles

Many people are squeamish about needles, and getting blood work done is never fun. If you hate the thought of getting your finger pricked for blood samples, numerous companies have been developing ways of extracting blood samples painlessly.

Technologies like TAP developed by Seventh Sense Biosystems, and Loop developed by Loop Medical utilize micro-needles to collect capillary blood from the uppermost layers of skin, which means you’ll feel virtually nothing and be done in seconds.

Optical eye care is going smart

Wearing glasses is often associated with intelligence, but in the 2020s, vision care is really going smart. High-tech prescription lenses and contacts are being developed with built-in visual displays, and magnification features to zoom in your surroundings. They can also have internet connectivity so you can pair your smart glasses with apps on your phone, for example, and read your email right in front of your eyes.

Other eye care technology is focusing on preventing eye strain in the digital age. Companies like Axon Optics offer laser-precision tinted lenses that significantly reduce migraines from people suffering from light sensitivity, or want to protect their eyes while working on a computer all day.

Fraud detection and prevention

Because health insurance companies are risk managers, fraud and corruption can have a ripple effect throughout the healthcare industry. Common types of medical fraud are things such as patient referral kickbacks, upcoding for expensive services that weren’t performed, and misrepresenting non-covered treatments, and these common frauds cost the health industry billions of dollars per year.

Many companies are adopting AI technology to combat fraud using highly accurate detection algorithms. In 2019 for example, Prime Therapeutics used AI-powered SAS data analytics to save Blue Cross Blue Shield $279 million in fraud prevention.

More transparent service and prescription pricing

Shopping around for prescription medications isn’t easy when you’re just checking the local pharmacies in your town. Companies like RXSense have developed platforms that connect over 20 million prescription medication vendors, whether they’re a physical or digital pharmacy.

This creates a buyer’s market where patients can compare prices and buy their medications at the cheapest prices available.

According to PYMNTS, the average U.S. family pays over $20,000 annually in healthcare costs. Legacy systems have been resistant to technological disruption for some time, but the rapid consumer shift to digital platforms has created a new type of transparency where patients can find the best deals and medical services.

Even e-commerce giant Amazon has entered the scene with Amazon Pharmacy, seeking to massively disrupt the pharmaceutical marketplace after buying online pharmacy PillPack. Other chain pharmacy giants, like Walgreens and CVS, will be fighting hard to keep exclusive distribution deals with branded medications.

For example, Walgreens signed a 20-year deal with Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2016, in which Valeant would sell branded drugs at generic prices, exclusively in Walgreens.

Wholesalers could thus sell to Amazon on consignment, and the medication then sold directly to consumers either through Amazon or a third-party. In that way, Amazon would not need to invest in becoming a wholesale supplier of prescription drugs, while consumers would still enjoy exclusive pricing and availability.