5 Ways Tech is Transforming the Healthcare Industry
Whether it’s information-sharing between patients and doctors or aiding in a high-risk surgery, it’s clear that dynamic applications of technology are well underway in disrupting the healthcare industry.
TECH AT OUR FINGERTIPS
Today’s infographic from the Online Medical Care highlights healthcare areas where tech is breaking barriers. Here are five ways that technology is impacting the sector, ranging from AI to nanomedicine:
Artificial intelligence will have a dramatic impact on many industries, and healthcare is no exception.
A large share of healthcare executives are already applying artificial intelligence in their operations, with data showing plans to increase budgets last year.
|Healthcare uses of AI||Adoption (2017)||Adoption (2018E)|
|Clinical decision support||46%||59%|
|Medical costs / health plan||21%||38%|
|Patient safety and quality||25%||33%|
|Supply chain management||13%||21%|
As the technology becomes more developed and widespread, it’s expected that AI could help diagnose strokes, eye disease, heart disease, skin cancer, and other conditions.
Also known as telehealth or telemedicine, virtual healthcare allows patients and doctors to touch base remotely using technology such as video conferencing or mobile apps. Many patients are also becoming comfortable using wearable technology to monitor any changes in their health – and sharing that data with their physicians.
Convenience, ease of use, and travel times to their closest doctor are main reasons why patients choose virtual care. On the flip side, many are concerned about the quality of care, or fear a loss of a personal connection with a doctor.
If all patients chose virtual healthcare over face-to-face visits, it could save the U.S. health system $7 billion annually – while the time savings would “free up” the equivalent of 37,000 doctors.
Nanomedicine is rapidly evolving field which controls individual atoms and molecules at the extremely minute “nanoscale” of 1 to 100 nanometers. To put that into perspective, a single newspaper sheet is about 100,000 nm thick.
Nanomedicine is mainly used to effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent various diseases. Compared to conventional medicines, it’s much better at precise targeting and delivery systems, paving the way towards combating complex conditions such as cancer.
The global nanomedicine market could be worth over $350 billion by 2025.
Although it’s normally been associated with entertainment, virtual reality is making waves in healthcare as well. The multi-sensory, immersive experience that VR provides can benefit both physicians and patients:
- Healthcare worker training
VR can be used to train surgeons in a realistic and low-risk simulated environment.
- Physical and mental health
VR offers therapeutic potential and rehabilitation for acute pain and anxiety disorders.
VR is thus considered a cost-effective and efficient tool for both teaching and treatment, and the VR healthcare services market is expected to grow from $8.9 million in 2017 to an expected $285 million in 2022.
3D printing has come a long way since its debut, especially in its uses in the healthcare industry. The technology offers faster prototypes, creating everything from personalized prosthetics to “poly-pills” at a fraction of the cost.
The customizable aspect of 3D printing is revolutionizing organ transplants and tissue repair, and it’s even able to produce realistic skin for burn victims.
Last but certainly not least, robotic surgery is sweeping through hospitals. It allows doctors to perform delicate and complex procedures that might be otherwise impossible.
Typically, surgeons control a device with a camera and mechanical arms, giving them a high-def view of the surgical site. According to the Mayo Clinic, this method generally:
- Enhances precision, flexibility, and control
- Comes with fewer complications such as infections
- Results in less obvious scars as it is minimally invasive
While technological adoption into the medical field doesn’t come without challenges, the value is clear – and we’ve barely scratched the surface of tech-driven possibilities in the healthcare industry.
Visualizing the Healthtech Revolution
From artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things, advances in healthtech are pushing the boundaries of the modern healthcare industry.
Imagine being a patient in the early 19th century, when all ailments were considered “humors” to be ejected from the body. To restore balance, various techniques such as diets, natural herbs, or bloodletting with leeches were used – the only “technology” available at the time.
Even when the basic structure of modern medicine came into place, the average life expectancy was just 34 years old in 1913. A patient from that era would surely be amazed by the leaps and bounds that healthcare has undergone since then, thanks to the influence of technology.
The Healthtech Revolution
Today’s infographic dives into some of the technological advances that are pushing the boundaries of modern healthcare, and what this could mean for the sector.
What is Healthtech?
Healthcare technology, or healthtech, is the use of technology to better treat patients. Many such inventions have been credited for saving countless human lives since the 1800s.
Medicines, devices, procedures, and even organizational systems contribute to expanding life expectancy and improvements in quality of life.
From Fiction to Reality
Breakthroughs such as robotic arms, 3D bio-printed organs, and virtual reality for pain relief are being developed in the medical sector, drawing influences from the big screen.
Technologies that were once the staple of science fiction movies are rapidly becoming realities.
— Jeroen Tas, Chief Innovation Officer, Philips
But there’s a less tactile application of technology from science fiction that will arguably have an even bigger impact on healthcare: artificial intelligence (AI).
By recognizing patterns in behavior and creating their own logic, machine learning algorithms are set to transform various aspects of healthcare ranging from the automation of mundane tasks to the creation of entirely new drugs.
Healthcare at our Fingertips
Healthcare is also getting more mobile and connected, putting the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile health (mHealth) at center stage as sources of potential disruption.
These technologies can help in everything from offering patients a convenient way to book appointments and pay bills online, to allowing doctors to use electronic health records to access and share information.
Wearable devices and smartphone apps are spiking in adoption as they unlock the option to monitor and manage individual health anytime, anywhere. This is creating an explosion in personal health data, which consumers are willing to share with their doctor if it will benefit them or others.
The Coming Healthtech Boom
Artificial intelligence, IoT, and mHealth are contributing to rapidly expanding healthtech sector, and each are expected to experience rapid growth by 2025:
|Healthcare segment||Current*||Projected (2025E)||CAGR|
|Artificial Intelligence||$2.1 billion||$36.1 billion||50.2%|
|Global IoT||$120.2 billion||$543.3 billion||20.2%|
|Global mHealth||$4.16 billion||$111.8 billion||44.2%|
While healthtech won’t replace your doctor anytime soon, but it will certainly change your experience with healthcare – both on the front-end and behind the scenes.
Visualizing the Future of the Pharma Market
With prescription drugs expected to be a $1.2 trillion industry by 2024, which are the most anticipated drugs and therapy areas in the pharma market?
Visualizing the Future of the Pharma Market
Around the world, people are living longer.
By 2050, there will be two billion people that are 60 years or older globally. Meanwhile, the amount of seniors (65+ years old) in the U.S. will double to 100 million by 2060.
To meet the needs of this aging population, we will continue to need larger quantities and more varieties of prescription drug treatments – an industry that is expected to skyrocket to $1.2 trillion in size by 2024.
Drug Sales, by Segment
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it highlights the most anticipated drug treatments and therapy areas for the pharmaceutical industry.
It starts by breaking down the massive pharma market into therapy segments, showing a forecast for the size and growth for each category.
Here is the data for the top 15 segments, sorted by projected worldwide prescription drug sales in 2024:
|Rank||Therapy Area||2017 sales||2024 sales||CAGR|
This data, which comes from a recent report from EvaluatePharma, helps showcase a few key insights.
Firstly, the oncology therapy area – which makes drugs that are used to treat various forms of cancer – is by far the largest in the pharma world with $107 billion in sales in 2017. It’s also projected to maintain its dominance going forward, growing at an impressive 12.2% CAGR to $233 billion by 2024.
Next, while sales in cancer-related drugs will be the most in absolute terms, the fastest growing treatment area is actually in immunosuppressants – a segment of drugs that make a body less likely to reject a transplanted organ, such as a liver, heart, or kidney. It’s projected that this segment will grow at 15.7% per year, eventually becoming the sixth largest pharma segment at $38.1 billion in 2024.
Lastly, while sales in the pharma market will be averaging 6.1% in annual growth as a whole, there are two major segments that will see negative annual growth going forward: Anti-virals (-0.9%) and MS Therapies (-0.8%).
The Battle Against Cancer
Currently, there are more drugs used for treating cancer than for any other type of disease or condition.
|Rank||Disease or Condition||Number of active drugs|
Unfortunately, even though many cancer drugs are available on the market already, the debilitating disease is still a leading cause of death. Existing drugs are used in treatments of chemotherapy or hormone therapy, but it’s clear that there is still plenty of room for progress to be made against the disease.
For these reasons – combined with the estimate that nearly 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetimes – it’s no surprise to see that companies have yet even more cancer drugs in the pipeline:
|Rank||Therapy area||Number of drugs in pipeline|
As more drugs get approved from the above pipeline, it is projected that $1 of every $5 spent on prescription drugs in 2024 will be going towards cancer-related treatments.
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