As we are entering 2020 which completes first 20 years of 2000 era, it is time to look at the crystal ball and predict what lies ahead in 2020 for healthcare. As of now since 2000, Healthcare Industry has gone through many changes in terms of regulations, technologies and automation. Few new concepts surfaced on the floor like, Remote care, Interoperability (FHIR), AI, Machine Learning, Augmented reality, IoT, Robots and list is just keep growing. Few standards evolved which made patient-data interchangeability possible and help physicians to a greater extent. CMS (Center of Medical Service) is pushing for new regulations with providers and payers to benefit patients for providing value-based care. The drug prices will continue to be front page issue and at the same time pharma companies will bring innovations to dominate headlines.

Overall, everchanging & fast-moving healthcare industry will have following top trends in 2020: -

    1. Push for Remote Care (Telehealth/Telemedicine):

An under-appreciated driver of costs in U.S. health care is the price of hospitalization. The average hospital bed costs more than $2,000 a day, and in many areas of the country more than $3,000. This big price tag, combined with enabling technologies and evolving patient preferences, is creating pressure for health care delivery organizations and health plans to think differently about how and where care is delivered. Home-based primary care, urgent care, palliative care, and even hospital-at-home care will continue to grow in popularity for patients. Remote care market (Telehealth/mHealth) expected grow at 15% and wireless health is expected to grow 23% as per CAGR report. CMS is also pushing payers to provide health coverage for Remote care through various health plans.

With the opening of the reimbursement door for telehealth services in these major countries, the outlook has improved sharply, and the landscape is changing with several projects being conducted in recent months. We believe the US healthcare payers will offer patients more out-of-network options, whereas China plans to cover 70% of the nation’s public hospital under the government-backed telemedicine program by 2022. In the next 2-5 years, 5G wireless will increase the potential for telehealth by adding more capabilities beyond the home.

    2. Mobile Health

Known also as mHealth, it is about using mobile to take care of an individual’s health, which can turn into a life-saver specifically for the modern patients. Mobile health is rising into a good alternative for addressing regular treatment instances and that of critical medical situations. Technology standards such as FHIR & Blue button 2.0 play a major role in integrating mobile apps with various third party systems and make patient data available. This rises in value in terms of offering solution to patients in underdeveloped areas and regions and countries and villages, wherein people lack affordability to visit hospitals, but in all probability have smartphones. Governments, for their turn, get benefited by the way they gain an understanding of how people are doing health-wise as well as critical statistical points.

Facilitating mobile health are some apps that built for different purposes and that carry different functionalities as that of:

  • Medication management apps
  • Individual health recording apps
  • Fitness apps
  • Pregnancy monitoring apps
  • Body, activity, & sleep tracking apps

Mobile health market is expected to grow at 41% as per CAGR and continue to dominate health industry and provide meaningful use of data to patients and providers through the click of a button.

    3. IoT (Internet of Things)

IoT is now playing a critical role in Healthcare, where wearables, smart devices, connectivity as well as medical equipment innovations combine to transform the industry. Leading mobile technology players including Android and Apple are continuously enhancing their wearable products, equipping wearables with robust health tracking features – which have only inspired the birth of numerous various-purpose mini devices.

Surgical robotics has emerged as a reality. The talk of using AI-driven robotic surgical is about infusing more precision when compared to real doctors on more occasions. Though there are limitations, the technology seems promising in terms of becoming prevalent in the days to come.

As per Business Insider, install base pertaining to IoT devices across healthcare will exceed 161 million units by the time 2020 comes to an end. From Business Insider, we also gather some independent predictions pointing that 90% healthcare companies across the world will leverage IoT as a staple in-house tool by the time 2020 comes to an end.

    4. Interoperability

We anticipate during 2020, interoperability will finally take a major step forward in terms of government policies, vendor acceptance and strategic focus by healthcare IT buyers. Solutions that stand alone and do not enable data mobility will lose significant ground or won't be purchased. The US government will take significant steps forward to force the industry to enable interoperability in patient medical records, reigniting the shift to personal health records versus enterprise health records. In the European region, interoperability solutions will garner strong demand as progressive health systems in the European Union plan to achieve EU eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 (EHAP) milestones, including cross-border exchanges of patients' health data and General Data Protection Regulation. Most of the emerging countries in regions such as Asia and Africa are often know to be “data-rich but information-poor.” Many of these countries are developing their national eHealth policies (e.g., India) and are likely to embrace interoperable systems from the beginning stage to ensure future scalability. The healthcare industry strives to expand the use of open systems and frameworks, including standards such as APIs and platform integration, to solve HIT system interoperability and data integration challenges. By the end of the coming decade, blockchain-based personal health records (PHR) will be considered foundational for ensuring access and ownership of individual health data. The interoperability standards such as Hl7/FHIR & Blue button 2.0 will further improve its standards and provide more simplicity to integration with EHR & EMR.

    5. AI (Artificial Intelligence)/Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) has led to many medical advancements, from AI-based software for the management of medical records, to diagnosing and recognizing conditions. But AI is yet to leave deep imprints wherein it is expected to touch $6.6 billion during the year 2021 in healthcare as per Accenture Consulting, which will amount to 11-fold increase from that of the year 2014.

AI has also made other significant contributions as that of AI in diagnostics, wherein studies were conducted to leverage AI in detecting schizophrenia as well as heart disease using wearable sensors. The potential of AI is also spreading as physicians can leverage AI to diagnose and identify conditions. Researches have also gone into using AI for screening with the sole purpose of determining if a patient is an ideal surgery candidate.

The study published in npj Digital Medicine details how machine learning AI was used to distinguish between patients who are fit for corneal refractive surgery and those who are likely to experience post-operative complications. More recently, researchers have created a machine learning computer model that can simulate the metabolism of cancer cells. The model can capture various images of cancer cells and help determining cancer level of patients.

    6. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is a specialized branch of AI focused on the interpretation of human-generated spoken or written data. NLP market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.1 percent to become a $16 Billion market by 2021.

NLP will be the key driving forces in the future for better clinical decision support and patient health outcome. Where Clinical Notes can get accumulated and make it difficult for analysis, NLP-driven systems come good in structuring data, providing summary as well as retrieving right information from all the medical jargon.

Forecast Complications — NLP along with predictive analytics can be deployed to improve the diagnosis process and identify high-risk patients immediately. This helps in having the complete data at hand and fast which is particularly crucial in the emergency department.

    Final Thoughts

The healthcare industry is witnessing many disruptions brought about by various emerging technologies. With the millennials looking out for a healthier lifestyle, there is an outbreak of technological gadgets. Technology has had a massive impact on our everyday lives in the past few decades. Looking forward to seeing it reach every facet of mankind in the coming era.                      

At Saksoft we have the expertise to leverage emerging technologies in offering solutions as well as deep domain expertise to address critical Healthcare business problems and needs.

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