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The world has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, and nowhere is this more clear than in healthcare. The aftermath of the covid-19 epidemic, along with the financial slump and a rapid embrace of technology and digitalization, has significantly altered the scene for everyone, patient or practitioner.
Here’s my take on the key patterns I expect will emerge over the next 12 months:
Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
In 2023, the market for artificial intelligence (AI) – especially, machine learning (ML) technologies in healthcare – is expected to exceed $20 million. AI-aligned technologies such as computer vision, natural language processing, and pattern recognition algorithms are now firmly integrated in the healthcare ecosystem and will continue to be embraced as proof of their utility rises until 2023. Some areas where AI is used include drug discovery, where it can help predict clinical trial outcomes and potential side effects of new drugs, as well as medical imagery analysis, which involves using computer vision algorithms to spot early warning signs of disease in x-rays or MRI scans. It has also been used effectively to diagnose and treat neurological illnesses like as Parkinson’s disease.
AI has applications outside of frontline clinical practise, such as processing insurance claims and managing or analysing medical record keeping. It may also be used to analyse data from patient wearables or in-home sensors used in virtual healthcare settings (more on that in my next trend) in order to give early warning or prediction diagnosis of various illnesses. All of these application cases show that AI and machine learning will remain a dominant trend in healthcare over the next year.
Remote healthcare delivery rose dramatically during the epidemic. Even while it is normally safe to continue face-to-face routine sessions, many patients and providers have realised that for many illnesses, treatment may be delivered more efficiently and cost-effectively remotely.
Remote healthcare is classified into several areas. Home-based care is becoming more popular as evidence mounts that a familiar setting and proximity to family may improve patient outcomes while also being much less expensive than inpatient care. Then there’s telemedicine, which includes anything from video contacting your doctor instead of going to their office to remote surgery, in which a surgeon performs surgery on a patient at a remote location utilising robotic equipment. The virtual hospital ward is another distant healthcare paradigm that comprises practitioners in a centralised location providing treatment for a group of remote patients, frequently with connected diseases. Another approach involves allowing patients to complete more of their disease and treatment-related procedures at home before being admitted to the hospital. In the United Kingdom, for example, it is expected that this will be available to all patients facing hospital admissions for surgery by 2023.
Furthermore, there is a growing recognition of the value of online communities, which may be patient-led rather than practitioner-led, or may be run by charities associated with specific health conditions, where users can come together to share help and advice about their treatment and recovery. Patients Like Me, Care Opinion, and cancer.org are a few examples.
With the expense of providing in-person healthcare continuing to climb and medical practitioners in many nations in limited supply, it’s a fair bet that all forms of remote healthcare will be a growing trend in 2023.
According to Forrester Research, the amount of healthcare commerce handled through retail locations would more than quadruple by 2023. This is becoming more obvious as merchants such as Walmart, Amazon, and CVS provide healthcare services such as blood testing, immunisations, and medical check-ups that were formerly provided by hospitals, clinics, or physicians’ offices. This tendency will intensify if global economic conditions cause budget cuts at traditional frontline primary care clinics.
This is exacerbated by retail healthcare companies capitalising on consumer expectations of simplified customer experience and choice to develop services that consumers will increasingly find more convenient and better value than traditional primary care delivery. According to Forrester, “in 2023, patients will choose retail health for their primary care needs as health systems, constrained by inadequate resources, fail to match retail’s elevated patient experiences.”
When opposed to traditional healthcare professionals, retail healthcare practitioners are often more accessible and may not require appointments to be booked in advance. They are also less affected by the present shortages of educated clinical professionals in many nations, a situation that is only expected to intensify.
Wearable Medical Devices
Individuals will increasingly employ wearable gadgets to measure their personal health and exercise activities in 2023, as will professionals to remotely monitor patients. In recent years, the “Internet of Medical Things” has rapidly expanded from simple devices designed to track vital signs such as heart rate and blood oxygen levels to smart watches capable of sophisticated scans such as ECGs, smart textiles that can detect blood pressure and predict the risk of heart attacks, and smart gloves that can reduce tremors in Parkinson’s disease patients. In addition to physical sickness, there is a rising emphasis on creating wearable gadgets capable of monitoring and detecting indicators of mental illness. This year, a research was released that demonstrated how physical indications like as activity levels, sleep patterns, and heart rate may be used to determine when people are at risk of depression, and we may soon see medical wearables with some of this capability.
Wearable medical devices will increasingly operate as “edge” devices in 2023, which means they will be equipped with processors and capable of utilising in-device analytics rather than requiring data to be transferred back and forth between the device and the cloud to be processed. This has two major advantages: The first is privacy, because sensitive patient personal data is never sent outside of the device. Then there’s the issue of speed, which is crucial in the case of equipment meant to identify and warn of potentially life-threatening illnesses in real time.
Patients will have greater possibilities to obtain healthcare that is tailored to their particular needs in 2023. This involves the notion of precision medicine, in which medications and other treatments are personalised to a specific set of patients based on criteria such as age, genetics, or risk factors, rather than being given to everyone. The most modern and precise kinds of personalised healthcare take a person’s genetic information or genome into consideration and can assist healthcare practitioners estimate how successful certain treatments will be or if they will have negative effects. AI and machine learning techniques are occasionally employed to help with these predictions.
The phrase personalised healthcare is also used to refer to efforts to give people more say over how their treatment is planned and provided. This typically entails developing a specific treatment plan for an individual, taking into account their own circumstances, ideas, and beliefs when deciding how and where they should be treated. Personalization in all forms is anticipated to be a prominent trend during 2023, as it is in business and the entire economy outside of healthcare.