Dr. Anita Gupta is a C-Suite Healthcare Executive Leader, Board Member and Physician-PharmD at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
New data shows that the future of health innovation will need to be equitable. As a physician innovation representative to the AMA Physician Innovation Network, I recently attended the HLTH 2022 meeting. There, I learned that 19% of digital tools are inaccessible by Americans with disabilities. Moreover, health disparities amount to over $90 billion a year in excess of medical costs and 24% of the lowest income bracket in America does not have access to a smart phone.
Yet the digital world remains the future ecosystem of healthcare and has continued to revolutionize almost every aspect of our lives. But healthcare remains one of the last frontiers. The massive amounts of data produced by sensors, apps and wearables can be used to monitor patients and their environments to make healthcare more accessible, affordable and efficient.
As a C-Suite healthcare executive leader and adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, here are the top five innovations in the field of health that I expect to see in a wider adoption next year.
Connected Digital Care
Remote connected patient care has enabled healthcare virtually to improve real-world insights for digital care. It is usually associated with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or COPD, or for patients with complex needs such as those who have been newly diagnosed with cancer. Remote patient monitoring uses sensors, wearables, apps and other digital tools to collect and record data, and then sends that data to a patient’s healthcare provider. It can also send alerts when a condition changes or when a patient’s condition requires attention. Remote patient monitoring is a key part of the “internet of health.” As this technology is adopted more widely, it will allow healthcare providers to monitor a wider range of patients. This is particularly important in areas that have shortages of healthcare providers and limited access to care. Remote patient monitoring can help improve continuity of care and reduce the need for patients to travel to see a provider.
AI In Healthcare
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making headlines in almost every industry, but the health sector is still in the early stages of adoption. AI is being used in healthcare to analyze large amounts of data, identify patterns and make predictions. This includes medical images and data from wearables and other sensors. AI can also be used to make recommendations for treatment and assist in diagnosis. AI technologies in healthcare are still in their early stages of adoption. However, these tools have the potential to revolutionize healthcare by increasing efficiency, improving outcomes and reducing costs. I see AI playing an important role in the evolution of the internet of health because it has the ability to analyze and make sense of massive amounts of data, find patterns and make predictions. AI can also assist in managing care by providing decision support.
Real-World Patient Engagement In Healthcare
The healthcare sector is turning to technology to help improve patient engagement. Patients are often asked to track their lifestyle, diet and medications, but they often fail to do so. This can lead to poor outcomes, increased costs and stress on the health system. Some organizations are turning to apps and other technology to help patients track their own health and share that data with their providers to have improved patient-centered care. This can be done through online communities where patients can share their experiences and support each other. There are also programs that provide incentives for patients to log their data and share it with their providers. Patient engagement can help improve outcomes, lower costs and reduce the burden on providers.
Increase Security For Digital And Health Data
The amount of data being generated and stored by the health and digital industries is massive and growing. This includes data from sensors, apps, wearables, laboratory tests, electronic medical records and more. It goes without saying that security is paramount to ensure that this data is only accessed by those who need it and that it is not compromised. I expect security to be a major issue in the coming year as organizations adopt more and more technology and collect more data. There are several ways that organizations can increase the security of digital and health data. These include adopting a data-centric approach, using encryption and employing AI for cybersecurity. A data-centric approach enables organizations to protect their data regardless of where it is stored—on the Internet, on servers or on end users’ devices. Using encryption to protect data at rest and in transit can also help protect digital and health data from cyberthreats. Finally, AI can be used to help detect cyberthreats and defend against them.
Improving Telehealth Services
Telehealth is the use of technology to provide health services remotely. It is particularly useful for patients who live in remote areas or those with chronic diseases who may require ongoing monitoring. Some of the most common telehealth activities are remote patient monitoring, online doctor visits and virtual visits. For example, remote patient monitoring can be used to help patients with chronic diseases such as pain monitor their conditions. And online doctor visits can be used to help patients track their health and manage their medications. Virtual visits can be used to provide support for patients who require mental health services. I expected it to become more popular as more organizations implement it, and as digital tools become even more advanced and focusing more on patient engagement, enhanced compassionate communication and digital empathy.
While healthcare can be one of the industries most resistant to change, I believe digital transformation has revolutionized almost every other industry. The massive amounts of data produced by sensors, apps and wearables can be used to monitor patients and their environments. This data can be used to create more personalized and accessible care, help providers make better decisions and reduce costs. These innovations will help improve the quality of care and the experience of patients and providers alike. Healthcare is in the early stages of adoption of these digital tools. But as they become more widespread, they can help revolutionize this industry and improve the lives of everyone involved.