Greater and Sustained Transformation
“In 2021, transformation (and not just digital) will continue on a grander scale, bringing forth greater and sustained transformation across all healthcare settings,” write authors Arielle Trzcinski and Jeff Becker for the Forrester article, “Predictions 2021: Digital Goes Mainstream As The New Normal Sets in For Healthcare.” (1)
Last week we started a new series discussing projected healthcare trends for 2021. Inspired by the Forbes article, “The 5 Biggest Healthcare Trends In 2021 Everyone Should Be Ready For Today,” (2)
We kicked off the series last week discussing how the boundaries of healthcare now overlap with all aspects of life due to the impact of COVID-19, as businesses are having to prioritize safeguarding their employees and customers, particularly with the growing rate of mental illness.
In case you missed it, feel free to catch up here.
This week we examine some of the projected technological healthcare trends for 2021. Driven by the pandemic, 2020 was a huge year for the advancement of technology within healthcare, but for the sake of time, we’ll share the highlights in today’s Thinking Thursday TIPs.
Forced Change = New Norm
Quick changes had to be made for healthcare facilities to remain in business.
While it was a difficult time for many, a lot of the changes were long overdue and have impacted the future of healthcare for the better.
Although the need for these advances existed long before COVID-19, the pandemic forced them to the top of the priority list. The “patient-centric” model of healthcare has taken center-stage and if medical facilities want a fighting chance in the ring of healthcare-consumerism, certain technological advancements have to become part of their “new-normal” in 2021.
Convenient, Accessible Healthcare
Convenient healthcare became a necessity in 2020 and will continue to be a staple going forward in almost every component of healthcare.
Unfortunately, many healthcare facilities took a major hit during the pandemic as in-person visits were deemed “non-essential” to many patients and they put off receiving healthcare.
Although new and foreign to so many patients and providers, telemedicine presented itself as a solution. According to a MobiDev article, “With telehealth already rising in popularity in the previous year, the pandemic was a major boost to the industry’s development. This boom in telehealth seems likely to break $185.6 billion by 2026.” (3)
This quote from Becker’s Hospital Review’s article sums it up nicely, “Looking into the future, it’s likely telehealth has a bigger role to play in health care in a post-COVID world. It won’t replace in-person care as the norm; however, its expansion, especially within physician practices, will open up the door for increased access and convenience for patients, while maintaining continuity of care and preserving the patient-physician relationship.” (4)
2. WiFi Accessibility and AI:
However, making the transition to telemedicine didn’t come easily for some as there are a lot of contributing factors to a successful telehealth visit, WiFi accessibility being one of them.
Consequently, we will see a huge improvement in Wi-Fi automation in the next year. In her blog for TechRepublic, author Veronica Combs quotes Roger Sands, CEO and co-founder of Wyebot: “The wireless network has to work at all times, no questions asked, which is why more facilities will rely on automation and artificial intelligence platforms to monitor the network, providing complete visibility at all hours and automatically alerting IT to any issues,” (5)
3. Remote Patient Monitoring and IoT (Internet of Things):
If you’re like so many you may be asking, “what exactly is IoT?” According to Wikipedia, IoT is defined as follows.
“The Internet of things describes the network of physical objects—’things’—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.”
Combs continues in her blog by writing, “If more people are doing telemedicine visits, physicians will need a way to collect vital signs and other data points from a remote location. That’s where remote patient monitoring (RPM) comes in. Internet-connected blood pressure cuffs, scales, IoT glucose meters, IoT thermometers, the Blood Oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch Series 6, and sleep monitoring devices all can provide data for RMP.” (5) Jumping back to the previously mentioned MobiDev article, “By 2025, the IoT industry will be worth $6.2 trillion. The healthcare industry has become so reliant on IoT technology in 2020 that 30% of that market share for IoT devices will come from healthcare.” (3)
Provider accessibility is not a new point of frustration for both patients and providers. IPatientCare discusses the benefit of using chatbots to assist in alleviating the high demand on providers. In an iPatientCare article, “What Would Be The Most Popular Healthcare Technology Trends of 2021?”, authors write, “Using chatbots as a digital assistant allows healthcare providers to keep better track of appointments as well as contacts and make changes more readily than ever before.” (6)
To Be Continued
While we don’t have time to touch on all areas of technological healthcare advancements made in 2020 and their potential impact on 2021, there’s an abundance of research out there regarding projected technological healthcare trends for the new year.
2020 has made one thing evident: it’s amazing what we can achieve with the use of technology and the brains behind it. These technological advancements have become crucial to staying afloat during 2020 and will continue to be essential for continued growth in the future. Stay tuned for our next Thinking Thursdays TIP article as we continue looking ahead at projected healthcare trends into the new year.
Please let us know if you have comments or questions, and subscribe to our Email Updates, so that you can be assured to receive Thinking Thursdays TIPs.
Jerry L. Stone