Healthcare technology is undergoing exciting upgrades all the time and several trends in the industry are spelling out better health options for everyone. It is becoming easier for healthcare providers to offer solutions that are built around meeting patient needs because of advances in mobile integrated technology, miniaturization of complex machines, and the increasing accessibility of digital data.
A study from IMS Health reports that there are over 165,000 mobile health consumer applications, and that number is growing all the time. Because patients have more opportunities to participate and track their own wellness, the health care industry is under pressure to innovate and include patient needs in the process.
Growing Number of Mobile Healthcare Devices
Most consumers have grown accustomed to various devices that support health and fitness. Countless fitness trackers, sleep apps, and IoT integrations are making it possible to monitor your health everywhere you go.
The health care industry has been working to adopt its own arsenal of mobile solutions to help reduce costs while improving the quality of care. Dave Willis, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Clarius Mobile Health, a mobile ultrasound provider, shares how mobile solutions can resolve cost issues for hospitals. "Medical devices are often prohibitively expensive, meaning a hospital may only be able to purchase one unit if they have a tight budget. That also means that only one physician can use that device at any given moment." Mobile devices, on the other hand, often cost much less and provide similar if not the same degree of quality that older, more expensive machines do.
By increasing the number of devices accessible to physicians, mobile medical devices improve patient care and reduce costs. Mobile apps, like UpToDate and Isabel, are also making it possible to decrease the amount of time it takes a doctor to give a patient a sound diagnosis. Hospital adaptations to existing personal health devices, like wearable fitness trackers, have the potential to improve the state of patient care. Imagine a physician wants to track a patient's cardiovascular health and events while they are away from the hospital. With a wearable designed to do just that, the amount of data a physician has at their disposal increases significantly.
The Rise of VR as a Digital Healthcare Platform
The mobile and wearable ecosystems have given patients more access to health data than ever before possible. Whether it's online patient-facing information websites like WebMD or platforms that allow you to interact with physicians in real time, the digital healthcare segment is growing rapidly.
With so many exciting applications, it is no surprise that Virtual Reality is entering the digital health space, with countless firms racing to establish platforms that are easy to use for both doctors and patients.
Dr. Albert Rizzo, a physician at USC, shares, "It has not been the theory or research that has held back clinical VR, rather the availability, adoption, and costs that have limited its widespread use." With the advent of standardized VR hardware and software, these costs will decrease and allow medical professionals to develop new applications for its use.
Limelight on Healthcare Technology Investments
More and more investors and celebrities are getting involved in healthcare innovation. Most people are used to celebrity endorsed diets or special vitamins, but this new wave of investment is much more innovation-driven.
Some of them are even starting their own health-driven companies. Arianna Huffington recently announced her entry into the corporate wellness sector with a venture called Thrive Global. Other heavyweights like Mark Cuban have begun to make significant investments in the development of healthcare technology.
Perhaps lesser known in the entertainment world, but no less significant, Peter Thiel has invested heavily in anti-aging research. Quoted in a release from the MIT Technology Review, Thiel shared that he invested because the field is, "structurally underexplored."
All of these trends spell out a future for healthcare tech that is more mobile, better integrated, and much more accessible to a larger segment of patients. Upgrades in hardware and the number of investors in the space will continue to drive innovation that improves the entire industry.
"Technology developments are improving patient care and driving down costs," says Willis. "The industry's integration of smaller devices and modern patient communication platforms will increase the effectiveness of medical professionals."