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5 Ways Technology is Transforming the Healthcare Industry

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5 Ways Technology is Transforming the Healthcare Industry

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

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 AIAdoption (2017)Adoption (2018E)
Clinical decision support46%59%
Population health33%46%
Disease management29%42%
Re-admissions33%41%
Medical costs / health plan21%38%
Patient safety and quality25%33%
Supply chain management13%21%
Cancer care4%12%

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.

Virtual Healthcare

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

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.

Virtual Reality

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

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.

Robot-Assisted Surgery

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.

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COVID-19

The 7 Best COVID-19 Resources We’ve Discovered So Far

With so much misinformation spreading on the pandemic, we’ve compiled a quality list of data-driven and unbiased COVID-19 resources for you to use.

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With all eyes on the COVID-19 pandemic and how its impact will be felt over the coming weeks and months, people are being bombarded with all kinds of noise and speculation.

Between a deadly virus, looming economic effects, and numerous government shutdowns, it’s clear that a fertile breeding ground has been created for misinformation, rumors, conspiracy theories, hot takes, and other potentially misleading content.

7 Indispensable COVID-19 Resources

At Visual Capitalist, it’s our goal to use data-driven visuals to explain the world around us.

In the last week alone, we’ve had more than 10 million people visit our site — many of them trying to understand more about COVID-19 and its effects on the economy and society.

With that in mind, we thought we’d curate a list of quality information on the virus and its impact. These COVID-19 resources are all from fact-driven, reliable sources, with some of them even being created by our in-house team and shared to our free daily mailing list.

On the below list, we start with the more contextual resources (understanding how the virus works, pandemic history, etc.) and then progress to real-time dashboards and up-to-date data.

Click any image below to see the full resource or dashboard. Many are updated daily or in real-time.

1. How Coronaviruses Work

How Coronaviruses Work

What is a coronavirus, and how does COVID-19 fit into the mix?

This educational scrolling infographic by SCMP walks you through some of the more familiar types of coronaviruses, how they spread, and how they affect the human body.

It also relates COVID-19 to other coronaviruses that cause diseases such as Mers, Sars, and even the common cold.

2. The History of Pandemics

The History of Pandemics

On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

In this infographic, we look at the data to show you the history of pandemics — all the way from the Black Death to how the current COVID-19 situation. It helps give the historical context on how bad a pandemic can be. It’s also updated every day so you can see how COVID-19 compares to the impact of these previous events.

3. Coronavirus Simulator: Limiting the Exponential Spread

Coronavirus Simulator

Why does the virus spread at an exponential rate, and what techniques can be used to mitigate that spread?

This fantastic interactive page by the Washington Post actively simulates what happens when the virus spreads normally, contrasting it to how it may spread in a forced quarantine environment or when social distancing is practiced.

4. Real-time COVID-19 Map

Johns Hopkins: Real-time Coronavirus Map

If you haven’t seen this useful real-time dashboard by Johns Hopkins University yet, it’s worth bookmarking right now.

We check the resource every day, and it has the latest numbers for COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries, and more — and it’s all sorted by country and/or state and province. Importantly, it also updates in real-time, so you always know you are getting the latest numbers.

5. Which Countries are “Flattening the Curve”?

Our post on which countries are “flattening the curve” has had over a million views in the last week alone, and it features the above interactive graph from Our World in Data.

Go to the post itself to see a bigger version of the logarithmic chart, which plots the progress of different countries in flattening the curves of COVID-19 infections. The interactive chart updates daily based on the latest numbers, and you can actually search for any country by using the “Search” button. Using the filters on the right side, you can also sort by region as well.

6. Tracking the Coronavirus: The Latest Figures

Tracking the Coronavirus: The Latest Figures as it Spreads

Even though the Financial Times is a subscription-based website, it recently published this useful COVID-19 dashboard and made it accessible to everyone.

It features various charts and tables on the countries affected, as well as ongoing assessments on the economic damage caused by the virus. Like many of the other COVID-19 resources featured on this list, it is updated on a daily basis.

7. COVID-19 Stats and Research

The above graphic is one of many available on Our World in Data, a fantastic initiative led by economist Max Roser.

Their coronavirus research page has tons of stats, citations, and data for those that want to dive deeper into the situation. It’s also updated very regularly.

Bonus: The Coronavirus Explained, and What You Should Do

While this is less data-driven than the other pieces of content, this animated video by Kurzgesagt still provides a handy explainer on how the virus works.

It’s about eight minutes long, and might help you fill other knowledge gaps.

Please Share These Resources

At a time when misinformation can be dangerous and even deadly, it is worth spreading the above COVID-19 resources to your friends, family, and colleagues.

Many of the above resources are updated daily or they contain evergreen information, meaning they are not going to go out of date any time soon.

Wishing you a safe next few months,
– The Visual Capitalist team

PS: If you have any other great resources to share, please post them in the comments!

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Chart of the Week

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

This interesting pre-COVID19 report ranked countries by their level of preparedness for the outbreak of infectious diseases and pandemics

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Global Health Security Index

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

The world has experienced many pandemics throughout its history, but not every era has had the benefit of modern medicine and hindsight.

However, even with the readily available medical expertise and equipment that exists today, it is still unevenly distributed throughout the globe. Combine this with a highly interconnected global economy, and large populations are still at risk from infection.

Today’s chart pulls data from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on health security. It reveals that while there were top performers, healthcare systems around the world on average are fundamentally weak—and not prepared for new disease outbreaks.

Pathways for Commerce and Disease

Modern transportation and trade have linked the farthest stretches of the world to fuel a global economy. Physical distance plays less a limiting role and more an enabling one to form a flat world as Thomas Friedman put it, creating opportunities for commerce anywhere in the world.

A person can sell dishware from his home in Cusco, Peru, online to a customer in Muncie, Indiana, with products manufactured in China, from materials sourced in Africa.

While these connections sound sterile, there are people interacting with one another to procure, manufacture, package, and distribute the goods. The connections are not just through products, but also people and animals across many borders.

Now, add up the interactions within the global food supply chain with plants and livestock and tourism industries and place them under the pressures of climate change, urbanization, international mass displacement, and migration—and the volume and variety of opportunities for disease transmission and mutation becomes infinite.

The same pathways of global commerce become the transmission vectors for disease. A cough in Dubai can become a fever in London with one flight and one day.

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Despite this, we still live with national healthcare systems that look inward towards national populations, with less of a focus on integrating what is happening with the outside world.

The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive effort to assess and benchmark health security and related capabilities by nation, and it tracks six key factors to come up with an overall score for each of the 195 countries in the ranking:

  1. Prevention
    Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
  2. Detection and Reporting
    Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
  3. Rapid Response
    Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic
  4. Health System
    Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
  5. Compliance with Global Norms
    Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps
  6. Risk Environment
    Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats

Note: The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU), and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Country Overall Rankings

Overall, the rankings uncover a distressing insight. Global preparedness for both epidemics and pandemics is weak, with the average score in the index sitting at 40.2 out of 100.

The countries with the highest scores have effective governance and politics systems in place, while those with the lowest scores fall down for their inadequate healthcare systems—even among high-income countries.

Here are the 50 highest-ranking countries in the index:

RankCountryGHS Index Score
#1🇺🇸 United States83.5
#2🇬🇧 United Kingdom77.9
#3🇳🇱 Netherlands75.6
#4🇦🇺 Australia75.5
#5🇨🇦 Canada75.3
#6🇹🇭 Thailand73.2
#7🇸🇪 Sweden72.1
#8🇩🇰 Denmark70.4
#9🇰🇷 South Korea70.2
#10🇫🇮 Finland68.7
#11France68.2
#12Slovenia67.2
#13Switzerland67
#14Germany66
#15Spain65.9
#16Norway64.6
#17Latvia62.9
#18Malaysia62.2
#19Belgium61
#20Portugal60.3
#21Japan59.8
#22Brazil59.7
#23Ireland59
#24Singapore58.7
#25Argentina58.6
#26Austria58.5
#27Chile58.3
#28Mexico57.6
#29Estonia57
#30Indonesia56.6
#31Italy56.2
#32Poland55.4
#33Lithuania55
#34South Africa54.8
#35Hungary54
#35New Zealand54
#37Greece53.8
#38Croatia53.3
#39Albania52.9
#40Turkey52.4
#41Serbia52.3
#42Czech Republic52
#42Georgia52
#44Armenia50.2
#45Ecuador50.1
#46Mongolia49.5
#47Kyrgyz Republic49.3
#47Saudi Arabia49.3
#49Peru49.2
#50Vietnam49.1

You can view the complete rankings of all 195 countries on the GHS Index website.

Interestingly, 81% of countries score in the bottom tier for indicators related to biosecurity—and worse, 85% of countries show no evidence of having completed a biological threat-focused simulation exercise in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past year.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases vs. Global Health Security Score

Many healthcare systems have had their security tested with the outbreak of COVID-19.

global health secutiry score vs covid19 cases

Although it is still extremely early, there appears to be a relationship between a nation’s health security and its ability to cope with pandemics.

Takeaways: A World Unprepared

While there may be top performers relative to other countries, the overall picture paints a grim picture that foreshadowed the current crisis we are living through.

“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration—now happening in nearly every corner of the world—create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogens.” – The Global Health Security Index, 2019

The report outlined eight critical insights about global health security in 2019 that reveal some of the problems countries are now facing.

  1. National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.
  2. Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.
  3. There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.
  4. Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.
  5. More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.
  6. Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.
  7. Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.
  8. Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential.

A Stark Reality

The intention of the Global Health Security Index is to encourage improvements in the planning and response to one of the world’s most omnipresent risks–infectious disease outbreaks. When this report was released in 2019, it revealed that even the highest ranking nations still had gaps to fill in preparing for a pandemic.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The COVID-19 outbreak has served as a wake-up call to health organizations and governments around the world. Once all of the curves have been flattened, the next version of this report will undoubtedly be viewed with renewed interest.

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