SU_200329_Tech in Healthcare_Overview KEITH shutterstock
Call in the doctor - but that's not the only way technology is reshaping healthcare's future. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The recently Arab Health event in Dubai provided an opportunity to do a heath-check on the state of digital transformation in healthcare. So, let us get started.

• The rise of on-demand healthcare: The industry is entering the era of digital innovation, as patients seek on-demand healthcare because of their schedules. Consumers are going online to obtain medical information for the following reasons: 47 per cent to research doctors, 38 per cent to research hospital and medical facilities, and 77 per cent to book appointments.

• Big data: Big data aggregates information about a business through formats such as social media, ecommerce, online and financial transactions, and identifies patterns and trends for future use. For the healthcare industry, big data can provide several benefits, including lower rate of medication errors, facilitating preventive care and more accurate staffing. Furthermore, the CRM solutions funnel intelligent decision-making paving way for upselling and cross-selling services leading to a holistic patient journey.

• Treating patients with virtual reality: Ten years ago, telling people you could reduce their pain with a device similar to a video game would have garnered a lot of blank stares. In 2021, Virtual Reality (VR) is the pièce de résistance of digital transformation in healthcare. Its myriad of applications are profoundly changing the way patients are being treated. The global virtual and augmented reality in healthcare market is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2025.

• Growth of wearable medical devices: Another trend of the digital transformation in healthcare is companies collecting their own health data from medical devices, including wearable technology. Since the patients are focusing on prevention and maintenance, and demanding information about their health more frequently, the most common of these devices include heart rate sensors, exercise trackers, sweat meters – used for diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels - and Oximeters to monitor the amount of oxygen carried in the blood.

One study found that health apps and wearables for preventative care could save the US healthcare system close to $7 billion per year.

• Predictive healthcare: Information aggregated through Big Data and other marketing sources can help healthcare companies develop lifestyle recommendations for their patients. The hugely popular digital second opinion programme, the symptom checker and the chronic disease management program all use predictive healthcare models deploying big data and AI.

• The wonders of artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a digital transformation trend in healthcare. The healthcare AI-powered tools market is expected to exceed $34 billion by 2025, which means this technology will shape almost all facets of the industry. Website chatbots and virtual health assistants are outcomes of AI-based technology that patients are becoming familiar with.

Chatbots can fill a multitude of roles from customer service representatives to diagnostic tools - and even as therapists. The global healthcare chatbots market is projected to reach $314.3 million by 2023 from $122 million in 2018. Overall, AI is predicted to bring $150 billion in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026.

• Blockchain and the promise of better electronic health records: Blockchain has recently suffered reputation issues due to the bursting of the cryptocurrency bubble. Now, the average person thinks of blockchain as of this vague concept that doesn't have much of an impact on their life.

In reality, this technology will soon play an instrumental role in keeping their electronic health records accurate and safe. For sharing of patient records among healthcare providers in the UAE, we have Malaffi by DOH, NABIDH by DHA and Riayati by MOHAP. According to a recent report, blockchain in healthcare market is expected to reach $890.5 million by 2023.

There is one further upside – generating employment. The adoption of tech in healthcare should be seen in the backdrop of the UAE’s decision to award 100,000 Golden Visas to the best coders of the world. This would augment the digital health journey in the UAE.