Despite the recent fast acceptance of digital technology, the health and care system is still in the early phases of digital health, with many solutions mimicking physical techniques and procedures rather than capitalizing on what makes digital distinct. In this explanation, we look at the technologies that are most likely to transform health and care in the next years.
Some of the technologies we explore are just around the corner, while others are already in people’s wallets, local surgeries, hospitals, homes, and communities. Yet, few are being used systematically in the health and care system, and none have attained their full potential. Each might offer an opportunity to enhance patient experience and produce better results or more efficient treatment.
Here are the 7 best points of the future of digital technology in healthcare:
1. Smartphones and wearable technology
It’s been more than a decade since the introduction of the pocket-sized gadgets known as smartphones. Although they were once seen as luxury item, they quickly become indispensable companions. The technologies within these devices have evolved iteratively, and we now have access to computing power capable of steering a spacecraft, GPS, a high-speed internet connection, and high-quality imaging capabilities in the palm of our hands, as well as a slew of sensors for health-relevant data & Digital Technology in Healthcare(e.g., movement and location tracking) and a touch-screen interface.
Wearable devices are a newer type of technology that includes smartwatches (such as an Apple Watch), activity trackers (such as a Fitbit), and linked patches (eg, a smart bandage or smart plaster). These are often in close touch with the user for extended periods of time, providing enormous amounts of data on certain biometrics or behaviors.
Several big technology firms are marketing these gadgets as health or wellness devices rather than medical devices, so avoiding regulatory constraints. Yet, these devices have the potential to be extensively employed in health and care settings, as well as by people to enhance their health and care. A wearable sensor monitoring heart rate, for example, may provide a more accurate indicator of a person’s heart rate at different stress levels (sitting, standing, walking, etc.) over time than a single one-time assessment in a surgery, which might be erroneous owing to patient fear or stress.
Many of health and wellness applications are currently available in app stores, ranging from food diaries and mindfulness advice to period trackers and musculoskeletal rehabilitation help. Nevertheless, the health and care system’s adoption has been spotty owing to a variety of difficulties such as quality, evidence, clinician knowledge, confidence, and abilities, and integration into pathways.
Attempts to select the finest quality applications, such as those in the NHS App Library, have had limited success in mainstreaming the use of apps for health. A rising number of applications now take a direct-to-consumer strategy, focused primarily on health information, self-care, or monitoring. Applications for technologically enabled interventions have also been created (these are known as digital therapeutics).
Smartphones and the cloud may work together to act as a center for wearables, linked devices, data, and sophisticated new diagnostic and treatment technologies. Those with type 1 diabetes, for example, are pushing the development of a ‘artificial pancreas,’ which connects continuous glucose monitoring and insulin-delivery devices, all controlled by a smartphone & Digital Technology in Healthcare. It will tailor its insulin administration algorithms to a person’s physiology.
Smartphones and wearables are powerful data-collecting devices that can record a great deal about people’s life. People may use their cellphones or wearables to assist researchers collect enormous volumes of real-world data about health issues and their factors, in addition to monitoring their own health condition.
Smartphones and wearables are very effective data-gathering technologies that may… assist researchers in collecting enormous volumes of real-world data on health issues and their factors like Digital Technology in Healthcare.
These applications may poll users and allow them to opt-in to research through permission forms, as well as enabling the sharing of data collected automatically on their devices such as step counts, heart rate, and so on. Since 2015, these platforms have spurred a new approach to illness research, with a number of long-term and large-scale opt-in studies undertaken. For example, over 4,000 individuals joined in a Parkinson’s disease study in 2016, over 400,000 in atrial fibrillation research in 2018, over 8,000 in an asthma study in 2017, and 250 people are being selected in 2020 for enrollment as ‘citizen scientists’ in an adolescent arthritis study.
The sheer quantity of people recruited in a short period of time would not be conceivable without a digital app-based strategy. These investigations have the potential to increase our knowledge of how illness evolves over time and the accompanying lived experience of patients, as well as the use of cell phones and wearables as digital endpoints for medical research. Researchers will be able to use this data in the future to construct individualized baselines, quantify an individual’s lived experience, track digital biomarkers that help enhance diagnosis, and properly monitor illness progression and therapy effectiveness. For the time being, these features remain tantalizingly out of grasp.
2. Virtual Machines (VMs)
To work, most, if not all, digital tools and technologies rely on infrastructure (devices, connections, sensors, and so on). Infrastructure, in the form of hardware that runs the software tools, and internet connection are vitally necessary for contemporary digital tools. Yet, health and care systems are sometimes hampered by less expensive or older technology with limited functionality and inadequate connection like Digital Technology in Healthcare.
Cheaper or outdated technology with limited functionality and inadequate connection often holds up health and care systems.
Virtual machines provide an alternate method that functions similarly to screen sharing in video conversations. The distinction between virtual machines and desktop computers is that screen sharing happens with a computer in the cloud that the user may manage. This implies that the internet connection is only required to transport the screen picture and certain control information (for example, if the user touches an onscreen button), necessitating a lower internet speed and data.
It also implies that the user hardware must do less processing, making it less prone to crashing, halting, and so on. Utilizing virtual computers allows you to avoid the problems associated with outdated or less capable hardware. Virtual machines might allow digital to jump ahead and fulfill patient and consumer needs in health and care systems where resources are limited and infrastructure is often years behind the consumer.
3. Telecommunications medicine
As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been a significant movement toward telemedicine replacing face-to-face communication.
As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been a significant movement toward telemedicine replacing face-to-face communication. Modern systems mostly concentrate on facilitating virtual communication like Digital Technology in Healthcare. Nonetheless, there is space to enhance and distinguish telemedicine by introducing capabilities in the digital domain that is not available in the physical consultation room. Live image tracking, for example, may quickly assess a patient’s motion, which is not achievable in face-to-face consultations. In the future, colleagues may be able to join virtual consultations to provide coaching, mentoring, and peer support.
4. Devices that are linked
With the availability of equipment such as e-stethoscopes, linked blood pressure monitors, and connected pulse oximeters, connectivity has become virtually ubiquitous in Digital Technology in Healthcare. They are inexpensive enough for many patients to purchase, or they are easily accessible for clinics and surgeries to distribute to patients for short-term usage at home.
Diagnostic technologies that were previously only available in hospitals may now be utilized in the home and community. They include portable x-ray machines, ultrasound equipment, blood-testing kits, and other technologies that may deliver an increasing number of diagnostics needed to support health care, with far-reaching implications for how the healthcare system is organized.
Butterfly IQ is a point-of-care ultrasound system that includes a specialized ultrasound probe and relies on a smartphone (or tablet) for computational processing, communication, and display, resulting in a very portable point-of-care ultrasound system of Digital Technology in Healthcare. New functionality, such as virtual help from a clinical specialist, is also made possible through the smartphone (or tablet).
5. Drug delivery methods that are smart or implantable
- Drug administration
A third to half of the medicine provided to persons with chronic diseases is not taken as prescribed. Numerous emerging technologies have the potential to help patients and healthcare providers monitor and improve adherence to a prescribed drug regimen, either via automation (see implanted drug delivery) or by giving improved information regarding prescription consumption of Digital Technology in Healthcare(using smartphone reminders and location information).
- Drug distribution using implants
Some novel medications and biologics have low solubility, making administration challenging – it may be time-consuming, unpleasant, and variable. Technology advancements have refocused attention on novel techniques for administering these medications at the point of need. Implantable drug delivery methods provide the substance locally, reducing the negative effects of Digital Technology in Healthcare that might occur when medication is taken orally or intravenously.
Current drug delivery technologies include drug-eluting stents, balloons, and sinus implants, but new automated drug delivery technology is in the works. Researchers and firms are working on implantable devices that have hundreds of tiny, sealable reservoirs that open when a modest electric current is delivered and controlled by an integrated microprocessor. The hope is that such devices will be able to discharge dosages automatically for more than ten years from a single chip of Digital Technology in Healthcare.
6. Immersive and digital therapeutic technologies
- Digital pharmacology
Digital therapies are evidence-based health or social care treatments that are given fully or mostly through technology (a smartphone, tablet, virtual-reality or augmented-reality system, or laptop). They successfully incorporate clinical practice and treatment into a digital format of Digital Technology in Healthcare. These interventions, at a bare minimum, integrate the supply of professionally curated information about a health problem with guidance and procedures for coping with that illness.
A physician, for example, may prescribe an app to a person with a history of depression or anxiety that includes, for example, breathing exercises, meditation, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Such an app might provide frequent assistance in addition to self-care to assist the individual in overcoming periods of depression without the requirement for the person to seek in-person treatment and wait for an appointment.
Whether entirely automated or a combination of automation and supervision (or coaching), the treatment provided may be adjusted to the unique requirements of the user. Digital Technology in Healthcare treatments is often suggested as a remedy for long-term disorders that need behavioral modifications or for long-term disease prevention.
- Cognitive behavioral treatment on a computer
The use of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the NHS has a rather lengthy history. Recent independent research of early computerized CBT found that the strategy was ineffective because young individuals did not finish the course of Digital Technology in Healthcare.
Yet, a new wave of automated digital treatments based on CBT has recently been created, with the goal of delivering CBT at scale with more participation. Sleepio is one such example: a six-week personalized online program aimed to relieve insomnia while also reducing anxiety and despair. Randomized controlled studies have had favorable outcomes. The treatment is personalized in response to data supplied by the patient, and the course is made more interesting by using cutting-edge design and delivery techniques through an animated avatar. Design and customization are crucial components that are likely to boost engagement and hence result in all sorts of Digital Technology in Healthcare.
- Immersive computing technologies
Virtual reality has the potential to be used in a variety of fields, including pain treatment, eating disorders, and rehabilitation.
For many years, virtual-reality and augmented-reality technologies have been on the verge of mass consumer acceptance, but have struggled to materialize despite major technological improvements. Virtual and augmented reality has the potential to increase accessibility, features, and results by expanding on digital treatments. These technologies will give immersive and personalized healthcare access via more advanced digital treatments than are now available, all from the comfort and convenience of a person’s own home.
Virtual reality has the potential to be used in a variety of fields, including pain treatment, eating disorders, and rehabilitation. Virtual reality is entirely immersive, blocking out sound and sight in favor of computer-generated visuals and sounds. This implies that a patient may be immersed in a virtual environment that can assist them manage pain, present situations to modify their behaviors, or play activities to enhance their mobility.
Augmented reality is being investigated as a method of increasing the quality of surgical operations in two ways: training and live guiding. Augmented reality superimposes computer-generated elements such as arrows or text on top of what we can already see. It may be used in training to enhance surgeons’ perception and interpretation of anatomy during operations of Digital Technology in Healthcare.
Augmented reality may also assist in guiding an intervention by recognizing what a physician is viewing. This may be accomplished via software that recognizes certain areas of the body to highlight specific characteristics of interest, or it could be accomplished by a more experienced peer joining remotely and annotating the live shared video to help and train colleagues.
Developments in DNA sequencing and the related subject of genomics will help us understand how illnesses and treatments impact different people & Digital Technology in Healthcare. It should be feasible to learn more about the potential success of medical treatments, such as prescribing medications to treat a condition, using a person’s genetic profile, and information about their response to therapy (pharmacogenomics).
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term for a variety of methodologies in which software duplicates capabilities that were previously associated with human intellect. This involves skills like as visually detecting and categorizing items, turning voice to text and text to speech, and so on. The NHS AI Lab was established in 2019 with the goal of assisting AI development in the NHS and tackling implementation issues with AI technologies is a part of Digital Technology in Healthcare.
- Learning by machine
Until recently, computers were not very adept at detecting patterns in chaotic data. Or, more accurately, the way they were designed meant they weren’t very good. Novel methodologies in applied mathematics and computer science have now been created, allowing for more effective use of computers for jobs like this. Digital Technology in Healthcare is Artificial intelligence has benefitted from a renewed attention and increased investment in tandem with the growth of graphics processing units, uncovering insights in big and complicated datasets. One such area is machine learning. It is a sort of artificial intelligence that allows computers to learn without being explicitly programmed, which means they may educate themselves to adapt when confronted with fresh data.
- Novel insights from large datasets
Some new companies intend to employ machine learning methods to enhance care delivery by providing diagnostic help. Deepmind, for example, has published studies demonstrating better effectiveness of AI used in breast cancer screening, while firms such as Ultromics are using machine learning to improve speed and minimize variability in the detection of cardiovascular illness using ultrasound pictures. Machine learning algorithms will be able to quantitatively analyze photographs in the future to build digital biomarkers that forecast illness beginning. The EVAREST trial is a multi-center research that aims to verify blood and imaging biomarkers as the first step toward diagnosis using machine learning-powered digital biomarkers.
- Natural language understanding
The spoken and written exchange of information is complicated, with subtlety in sentence structure and word choice – there are almost limitless ways to convey a statement. This makes computer understanding of written or spoken language very challenging. Natural language processing is a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on how to create software that can process, analyze, and reply to spoken or written words. It is still a developing area, but it has enormous promise in health care.
7. Automation and robotics
Throughout many decades, the continuing miniaturization of electronics and motors has permitted the development of more sophisticated and powerful robotic systems. They have the potential to be employed in health and care settings when paired with advanced sensor technologies, medical imaging data, and safety mechanisms.
Robots offer several advantages, including minimal tiredness, the capacity to carry huge objects easily, the ability to reproduce jobs with great accuracy, and the potential to be in many various forms and sizes. Given these advantages and adaptability, robots have the potential to enhance diagnosis, therapies, and care delivery in health and care settings. This might range from basic duties like assisting porters in moving patients to complex applications like surgical treatments.
- The networked community
People are at the heart of all technology. The internet, as well as the gadgets and technology that it has allowed, have encouraged the establishment of various communities, bringing individuals together around a similar interest, shared identity, social movement, or simply a hashtag.
- Peer-to-peer assistance networks
Connected communities for health are expanding in size and variety. Many platforms bring together individuals with interests in health and care from all over the globe to support one another, exchange knowledge, and even offer a platform for recording their health data or assisting them in managing their condition.
Med Help, Patients Like Me, and Health Unlocked are just three of these health-related social networks. In addition to these specialized networks, platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which dominate the social network industry in many countries, have become important locations for spreading and debating health and care information and best practices. Patients, hospital clinics, and GP surgeries have created closed Facebook groups for clinical diseases in order to increase health literacy and empower individuals in making educated choices about their own health in Digital Technology in Healthcare.
Closed groups may lead to the spread of misinformation; however, groups established and administered by trustworthy organizations such as healthcare professionals and charities can mitigate this by putting credible information at the fingertips of patients and allowing group assistance in Digital Technology in Healthcare.
- Communities that contribute to research
The internet, as well as the gadgets and technology that it has allowed, have encouraged the establishment of various communities, bringing individuals together around a similar interest, shared identity, social movement, or simply a hashtag used in Digital Technology in Healthcare.
Several online communities are contributing to health-related research by giving members the opportunity to be “data donors” and providing an easy method to share their data with researchers. Patients Like Me data has been used in published research in a variety of therapeutic domains, including depression, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS).