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The pandemic has disrupted routine across the globe. Due to COVID-19 and the increasing expectations from the healthcare industry have given rise to a technology solutions. The course of technology-driven innovation has been diverted due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The most significant drivers of change are Artificial Intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and other fourth industrial revolution areas. The impact of these technologies was felt in different ways than we may have anticipated at the start of 2020.

A study in 2019;

The Artificial Intelligence healthcare markets of 19 countries estimated a 41.7% CAGR, from $1.3 billion in 2018 to $13 billion in 2025.

This growth is in six significant areas: hospital workflow, medical imaging and diagnostics, therapy planning, wearables, virtual assistants, and drug discovery. From biotechnology and smart medicine to virtual and augmented reality, digital twinning, smart cities, robotics, and much more have had their part in improving healthcare.

Over the past few months, innovative technology has been used for prediction, screening, contact alerts, faster diagnosis, automated deliveries, and laboratory drug discovery. Autonomous vehicles in areas that were too dangerous for humans gained traction quickly. Delivering foods, medicine, and goods to quarantined families and patients in hospitals has become the new normal, all because of the continuous revolutions in the field of healthcare and technology.

Virtual Care:

The pandemic has clearly shown that the same level of care can be given at home rather than visiting a hospital or outpatient clinic. For minor and routine appointments, the number of virtual visits has skyrocketed during the pandemic. According to Forrester’s analysis, these virtual visits hit one billion by the end of 2020.

It is estimated that by the end of 2021, one-third of all virtual care appointments will be related to mental health issues. Remote care also allows medical professionals to take more patient consultations into their busy schedules. This is an incredibly important aspect for highly populated countries like China or India, where the doctors-to-patient ratio is incredibly low.

By 2021, more than one in three patient interactions will be virtual, and physicians will no longer be the automatic first touchpoint. Throughout the pandemic, remote monitoring, virtual visits, and patient-engagement tools have proved effective and have efficiently reduced foot traffic at clinics and hospitals.

Currently,

20% of patient interactions are digital, which is posed to increase to 35% by the end of 2021.

According to research by Frost and Sullivan, a 20 to 25% increase in patient engagement management solutions will be noticed in 2021 alone. Healthcare providers are focusing on building the most effective “digital-first” strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

Artificial Intelligence in Medicine:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning have unprecedented potential to transform healthcare processes, and medical tasks, and the revolution has already started.

  • Rapid Diagnosis and Treatment:

AI has allowed healthcare professionals to diagnose a disease rapidly. More importantly, algorithms are being developed that can diagnose patients through their CT scans in 20 to 30 seconds. Such software and applications can also remain on top of a patient’s decline and progress.

  • Workflow Automation:

Artificial Intelligence has given rise to automated workflows, consequently allowing patients to make appointments, pay insurance bills, get their medicines. Robotic process automation combined with AI has optimized processes and analyzed workflows to deliver more efficient medical systems, enhance the hospital systems, and streamline insurance fulfillment.

  • Health Benchmarks:

A big reason why Artificial Intelligence is rapidly changing conventional healthcare operations is its ability to read and analyze large amounts of data. With sufficient data as a foundation, AI has the potential to establish health data benchmarks for different demographics and populations. From there, it will allow us to detect anomalies from the baselines and has the potential to recognize potential pandemics then early.

  • Drug Discovery:

With Artificial Intelligence in the picture, scientists are employing machine learning to model hundreds of variables to learn how their compounds can affect the human cell. These technologies are already being used to find a cure for COVID-19 and other diseases.

IoT and Smart Cities:

Smart Cities, a concept rapidly gaining momentum in recent years, is a concept of building digital connectivity and automated data-driven decisioning into the existence of urban life. This includes planning public transport networks, energy distribution, waste collection, and environmental health initiatives. AI and IoT are at the crux of many initiatives in this field.

By 2025, the IoT industry will be worth $6.2 trillion.

The healthcare industry has become so reliant on IoT technology trends in 2020 that 30% of that market share for IoT devices will come from healthcare.

According to a UN prediction, 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. This is a particular challenge for developing countries where urban populations continue to grow. The smart city innovation works towards planning and managing the way increasing numbers of people will live in ever-closer proximity to each other.

Every city planner and municipal authority will be focusing on healthcare all throughout 2021. Smart city plans are just one of these ways to manage the population. Other tech-driven initiatives aim at reducing pollution and building resilience to climate-driven change, such as temperature and sea-level rises.

Voice Search:

Voice search is becoming incredibly popular, with 1 in 6 Americans now owning a smart speaker. 40% of adults employ voice search once a day, and it is a growing trend in healthcare to provide the fastest and accessible health solutions to the audience.

Since most people look for healthcare options within the proximity of their place of employment or their residence, the technology in healthcare industry should optimize its digital platforms for local searches. With the rise in the technology of voice search, people are looking at healthcare solutions that provide the most convenience.

Augmented and Virtual Reality:

During the pandemic, virtual and augmented reality have played their part in enhancing the quality of telehealth. From improving patient visits to helping educate medical students in procedure simulations, the technology is definitely implementing its importance.

The technology shows promise for helping stroke victims to overcome motor deficiencies. The patients are put in robust environments to help regain motor control. Through simulated environments, patients are given more flexibility that physical therapy may not be able to offer. The controlled simulations allow doctors and therapists to gather data to help curate plans for their patients.

VR headsets allow patients with concerns like dementia or cognitive impairments to access activities and experiences that are otherwise unavailable in their current environments. This will enable patients to unlock memories and improve their emotional well-being.

Augmented reality allows healthcare providers to have real-time access to information that can benefit the health procedures. This will enable students to learn more about their procedure through overlays, allowing doctors to quickly compare data to make diagnosis.

The pandemic has clearly accelerated the adoption of digital transformation in the healthcare industry. Virtual care will take precedence, along with an immediate opportunity for growth aided by the integration of wearables and end-to-end solutions targeted for care at home.

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Momina Asif

Momina is a Content Strategist at Xavor Corporation, where she plans, creates, and manages content. When she is not working, you can find her binge-watching TV shows or engrossed in books. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.