When Covid-19 gripped the globe in 2020, industries relied on technology to keep moving forward—and the healthcare industry relied on technology to more quickly develop life-saving therapeutics and provide routine care during lockdowns. Soon, technology may be helping doctors, surgeons and researchers deliver higher levels of care and develop new treatments faster than ever before.
While there’s much that’s yet to come from the partnership of medicine and technology, there’s also much that has emerged in very recent years that is already improving the quality of care and patient outcomes. Here, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council share some exciting ways technology has impacted the healthcare industry in the last three years.
1. Digital Therapeutics
Since the pandemic, the rise of digital therapeutics has been exponential. Software as a medical device improves access and outcomes, using artificial intelligence to deliver personalized, evidence-based care. Digital therapeutics have transformed the industry by allowing patients to have more self-agency and control, particularly in mental health care, where patient-centered solutions are essential. – Aaron Labbé, LUCID
2. AI-Tailored Medications
AI can help tailor medicines to each person’s unique biology, offering hope to patients with diseases that can require years of trial and error to identify the right therapy. AI “sees” patterns in complex biology that humans can’t. Doctors can use this knowledge to predict which patients are most likely to benefit from a drug before it’s prescribed. This could improve the quality of life for millions. – Diego Rey, Endpoint Health
3. Medical Dictation Software
Advancements in voice to text and AI language models have been a game changer for medical dictation software. Studies have proven electronic health record systems are a major contributor to burnout among medical professionals. Effective medical dictation tools can significantly reduce the time spent by physicians on data entry. – Shubhi Nigam, Insight Browser
4. Health-Focused Wearables
I think the overall wearables space is exciting. Even in that space, I think combining physical and mental health, as has been done with the Fitbit and the Apple Watch, has seen a lot of growth. People are way more keen to keep track of their daily health, rather than relying solely on a yearly checkup. With mental health awareness at an all-time peak, I think the industry is ripe for growth. – Ajay Bulusu, NextBillion.ai
5. Centralized Physician Communication Tools
Remarkable strides have been made within centralized communication tools in healthcare. These tools enable physicians to collaborate on patient care and connect disparate health systems (electronic health systems and so on) to improve physicians’ access to information. These tools’ impact during the pandemic was evident, as several hospitals doubled down on their investments to solve workflow inefficiencies. – Judit Sharon, OnPage Corporation
6. Connected Devices
The biggest advance has been connected devices and their use to advance patient care. From robotics to telemedicine to mobile apps, devices have helped patients and caregivers connect, no matter what the circumstances. Additionally, that same tech makes it possible for providers to work more efficiently through knowing where equipment is, being able to recognize and handle case surges and more. – Greg Murphy, Ordr
7. Online Patient Account Management Tools
There are many basic technologies that make interacting with the health system easier but that patients don’t fully utilize. While AI and other “sexy” technologies are great, starting with basic patient engagement tools is huge. Patients can schedule and reschedule appointments, check in electronically, fill out forms, submit consents and pay bills easily online today, yet usage rates remain low. – Tabitha Lieberman, Brightwork Health IT
8. AR/VR For Surgery And Training
The benefits of augmented reality and virtual reality combined with rich 3D animations are only just being realized. Operating theaters are now starting to utilize AR in procedures, while VR and animations are being used extensively for training surgeons. – Bankim Chandra, DotSquares LLC
9. Enhanced Energy Systems
Energy systems of hospitals typically have a service life that’s dependent on maintenance schedules. Cutting-edge solar thermal and energy as a service solutions allow hospitals to generate more energy per square foot from less space. This solution reduces expenses, bolsters the bottom line and releases capital to support the core mission of saving lives. – Ronald Bordelon, CORE Energy, Ltd.
10. Genetic Testing
Genetic testing is moving from becoming a technology used simply for trivial purposes—such as tracing the origins of your ancestors—to analyzing genes for predicting medical issues. This is just a short step away from being linked to insurance coverage, which is why very strong privacy and ownership measures need to be put in place with any and all human samples taken for DNA testing. – Blair Currie, Snibble Corp.
11. AI Models For Detecting Dementia
With the development of deep learning and AI in the field of audio processing, it is now possible to analyze human speech to detect early symptoms of dementia. A speech-processing AI model can be employed to distinguish between normal speech and the speech of a person with dementia. Even Alzheimer’s disease can be detected by screening or self-checking years before the onset of severe symptoms. – Chintan Shah, Brainvire InfoTech Inc.
12. The Internet Of Medical Things
The world of the Internet of Medical Things is taken for granted by many and unknown by even more. In many areas, the IoMT has created truly elastic capacity for the healthcare industry, which would have otherwise struggled with even further delays in providing traditional medical care during Covid lockdowns. From telemedicine to fully remote procedures, healthcare has truly innovated in the past three years. – Mark Brown, British Standards Institution (BSI)
13. MRI-Compatible Surgical Systems
MRI-compatible surgical systems are enabling more precise surgeries on delicate organs than was possible before. An example is surgical robots that are able to operate on the brain inside an MRI machine. The MRI provides high-quality images from inside soft tissues, which are used to guide the procedure in a way that is not possible using conventional technologies. – Paulo Carvalho, Avantsoft
14. Robots For Everyday Hospital Tasks And Maintenance
Robots help keep hospitals running and people safe in difficult times—such as during pandemics. Service robots are taking over menial tasks from people, carrying heavy loads of material such as bed linens and food. These robots are able to move around independently, calling elevators with the help of APIs. This helps hospitals optimize people and material flow and focus resources on meaningful work, such as saving lives. – Maciej Kranz, KONE
15. 3-D Printing
3-D printing provided extensive behind-the-scenes support to meet the pandemic-driven demand for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, and it continues innovating the healthcare industry today. Their flexibility, portability and speed make 3-D printers excellent for shaping rigid and flexible plastics, which are vital to modern-day medicine. With the promise to one day print body parts, the possibilities are endless. – Jeff Wong, EY