Celebrating World Health Day 2021 with a look at MedTech Innovation
World Health Day is celebrated annually on the 7th of April, sponsored by the WHO and other health-related organisations. There is a specific topic each year, and 2021 is no exception – despite an international pandemic. The 2021 World Health Day’s campaign is building a fairer, healthier world for everyone. This year’s topic cannot be more accurate, with the advancement of MedTech increasing more rapidly than ever before.
The healthcare industry has seen a great surge in technological advancements, prompting more developments and innovations to evolve as a result. So-called “Health-tech” is getting up to speed, driving the industry towards new perspectives and insights. Only approximately ten years ago the healthcare industry was primarily focusing on disease care, whereas now a lot of innovations are oriented towards disease prevention and more. We cover the main rising trends within the industry below.
A few years prior to the pandemic, many countries started adopting TeleMedicine. This allows a user to not be restrained by physical location to get an appointment with a doctor. However, the mindset was still mainly set towards the classical approach to medical visits: booking and waiting for your appointment, getting to the hospital, and so on.
However, we all know how the pandemic has changed everything in the past year. Now, TeleMedicine is widely accepted as a new norm, leading to further innovations and evolutions to provide ease of use, accessibility, and clarity for all involved.
One of the biggest benefits of TeleMedicine is that it almost eliminates any physical contact between patients, doctors, and other members of hospital staff. Before the pandemic, user adoption was not clearly outlined leading to general concern. With the pandemic came a shift in attitudes towards TeleMedicine, with users reaching for the platform out of necessity. Now, the industry has a very strong future. In 5 years, the Telemed industry is expected to reach $185 bn.
There are a lot of aspects to consider when building telemedicine apps. Developers must consider audio and visual configuration, appointment booking capabilities, privacy and security regulations, secure messaging capabilities, location services, and more. It’s expected that 2021 will not be a testing year for telemedicine, but it will be the year when key players within the industry can move forward with improved technological advancements.
The internet of medical things (IoMT) & privacy
Many of us might have heard of the Internet of Things, but not the Internet of Medical Things. So, what is it then? By 2025 the IoT is expected to be worth $6.2 trillion and 30% of it will be related to HealthCare. Combine the Internet of Things with Telemedicine and health technologies and you get the IoMT. This area includes innovation in the field of wearables, such as ECG (electrocardiogram), wearable tech, mental health diagnostics, testing kits for chronic diseases, and more.
Currently, the industry is facing not only issues with rolling out hardware but also many communication and ethical problems. Namely, finding the necessary capabilities to ensure that all devices may synchronise and communicate with each other to provide the most detailed and effective data for medical purposes possible. How this data should be stored, shared, and analysed is another question, considering that a data breach of medical records is one of the most common data breaches to date.
Will the unification of medical devices, records, and analytical information be able to prevent future pandemics from happening? If so, what are the potential risks and costs that users must be aware of to disclose personal data with peace of mind?
Privacy and MedTech
The trend above clearly shows the possible issues surrounding privacy that the HealthTech industry may consist of. With the rise of Telemedicine, a lot of non-medical devices are used to ease communication between patients, healthcare centres, and doctors. According to the ePHI (Protected Healthcare Information), to be ePHI compliant the permission of the use of third-party applications and software need to be obtained, which can be very tedious and problematic. HIPAA and GDPR compliance also ensure that a patient’s privacy is guaranteed. With the increasing digitalisation of medical records and patients’ data, the coming years will be crucial in improving the security aspects of HealthTech.
Mental Health issues
The trend for tracking mental health and wellbeing has been gaining traction in recent years but was truly tested in the past year as people had to deal with changes of routine, isolation, uncertainty, unemployment, and rising death tolls. Using algorithms, machine learning, and analytics tools, the medical industry was able to reveal the wellbeing trends that would not only help ease some mental health issues, but also detect the underlying causes and correlations of various medical problems, such as ADHD, eating disorders, and anxiety. Another interesting approach to searching for the causes of mental health issues, especially in 2020, was to look for causes in the “noise of the internet,” which includes social media feeds, news feeds, and breaking news alerts.
The above is currently helping psychiatrists and clinics to propose more efficient treatments to those suffering from various mental health issues. This includes treatments post-pandemic when a surge in mental health issues is projected as a result of people suffering from the consequences of the pandemic for many years.
AI and Deeptech
As the pandemic has undoubtedly put a strain on the healthcare industry, AI and Deeptech have been identified as an opportunity to reduce stress and capacity when possible – especially when the need for hands-free capabilities and increased demand for efficiency has emerged.
One of the leading use cases in which AI and Deeptech can be implemented is image analysis, treatment recommendations, diagnosis, report generation and the efficient management of medical records.
Personalised care is another submarket within AI in MedTech which is on the rise. With the combination of IoMT and analytics, developers may soon be able to produce a personalised treatment plan tailored to maximise health benefits and recovery with rapidity and ease.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented and Virtual Reality has also evolved due to the pandemic, specifically in sectors like medical education and care homes.
Many educational institutions have adopted a remote style of delivery. However, medical education institutions have faced a challenge in this. Due to the specifics of medical education such as the complexity of training and the crucial requirement for hands-on practice, remote delivery is ineffective and inefficient. To combat this, virtual and augmented reality capabilities have evolved to provide a sense of realism and in-person training – aspects desperately needed.
Senior care homes have also adopted these tools to diversify the isolation of those under their care. Some residents have been entertained by virtual travelling and community entertainment while waiting for their vaccination.
The Future of MedTech
As we can see, there are a lot of new trends that have emerged, accelerated, and evolved during the pandemic. The healthcare industry has seen international strain, but advancements in many areas of technology have aided in alleviating pressure and providing new opportunities when possible. There are a lot of interesting innovations within healthcare technology, with no sign of slowing down in sight.