Healthcare faces complex challenges in a world that is becoming more digital day-to-day. It has become clear that healthcare companies will need to embrace open systems that allow for the sophisticated analysis of multiple data streams and the development of patient-centric services. So how far are we in the digitalization of healthcare? Filip Heitbrink, CEO of Scilife, takes a look at the current state of affairs for us.
No More Paper by 2025?
In most professional contexts, paper is becoming extinct. And the world of healthcare is no exception. However, not all minds are prepared for this change. “In the pharmaceutical industry, whatever remains of paper procedures will completely disappear in the coming two or three years,” Filip Heitbrink predicts, “But there are still some environments – like smaller labs or hospitals – that hesitate to make the full switch.”
Paperless procedures offer countless advantages that lead to efficient cooperation and faster results – a development that patients are set to benefit significantly from. Think only of the digital signature, which saves everyone lots of time and is even more reliable than a signed paper.
So why the hesitation? Does the implementation of a digital platform demand more time and more budget? Implementing what you truly need is the answer here according to Filip Heitbrink: “At Scilife, we don’t want to sell technologies. We want to solve the client’s real problems. That’s why we closely look at the organization's pain points and how we can offer a genuine return on investment.”
The CentralKick Portal is a good example of this approach: It enables everyone involved to follow the studies’ progress, obtain reports, and post questions in a clear and consistent way. It’s the perfect remedy for inefficiency and time loss and lowers costs drastically.
The Cloud is Floating Past Pharma
Another trend we’ve been seeing in the past years is the emergence of the Cloud as the ultimate tool for storing and sharing data. But the Cloud is currently floating by the pharmaceutical world, which is still reluctant to make full use of this technology. The confidentiality surrounding patient data is at the core of this hesitation.
Instead, a growing number of healthcare institutions are making use of a hybrid solution: Some data are stored in the Cloud, while other data don’t leave the physical premise. It is a first step that allows the pharmaceutical industry to open up more to Cloud solutions in the coming years.
“The challenge will be to offer the latest Cloud solutions while keeping them validated at the same time,” Filip Heitbrink explains, ”Because software needs to evolve, but the validation should keep pace with the upgrades that are pushed continuously. Scilife is now developing some solutions to tackle this.”
Healthcare Isn’t Truly Mobile (Yet)
With more and more health apps being sold every day, one would think that mobile healthcare is happening as we speak. Well, not yet. Yes, health apps have become a booming business, but some issues still prevent them from being accepted as a real alternative to what doctors and researchers can do. Take the example of patient identification: How can it be verified that the data are really coming from the patient?
Filip Heitbrink points out: “Today’s apps are more about consumer health instead of acknowledged science. Technology needs to evolve a bit more to make healthcare truly mobile. We’re getting close, but we don’t have the hardware yet to identify patients, which is needed to make smartphone data reliable and trustworthy.”
Reap the Benefits of Big Data
As wearables, mobile health, and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) become more widely adopted, healthcare costs continue to rise, medical digitization initiatives are gaining momentum, and interoperability and digital healthcare are becoming increasingly important. The adoption of wearables and connected devices has become a major driver for Big Data in the healthcare market globally.
Big Data gathers information from different platforms to identify patterns and trends for future decisions. This allows institutions to produce statistical information quickly and transparently. Technological developments and analytical tools can enhance the decision-making process to benefit all patients. Additionally, organizations expect that Big Data analytics will help them minimize costs and medication errors, simplify preventive care, and improve staffing.
In the global healthcare market, Big Data was valued at $40.1 million in 2022 and is anticipated to grow to $130.1 million in size by 2031, according to Research and Markets.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence plays a vital role in the healthcare industry and increases in importance each year. AI already assists healthcare professionals in their daily work and helps physicians make decisions to improve patient healthcare. AI tools such as automatic learning and deep learning are just some of the ways to improve healthcare organizations in the near future.
According to a recent report by Tractica, the global market of AI-enabled tools in healthcare is expected to surpass $34 billion in size by 2025. Tractica projects that the top AI use cases for healthcare are as follows:
- Automated report generation
- Biomarker discovery
- Computational drug discovery and drug effectiveness
- Converting paperwork into digital data
- Healthcare VDAs
- Hospital patient management system
- Medical diagnosis assistance
- Medical image analysis
- Medical treatment recommendation
- Patient data processing
Furthermore, AI-powered chatbots and virtual health assistants have started serving as customer service representatives, diagnostic tools, and therapists. AI will continue to expand its use in healthcare. According to Marketsandmarkets, the global healthcare chatbots market is expected to reach $314.3 million in size by 2023.
Wearable Medical Devices
Wearable medical devices, also simply known as “wearables,” have many impressive benefits that can improve individuals' health and overall well-being. Let’s take a closer look at their most common uses:
Health tracking has become increasingly popular over the past few years and helps you track countless parameters with a tiny device, including heart rate, oxygen level, the number of steps you take, and even your skin temperature, while also getting reminders about taking medications on time or following your diet plan.
Improved Quality of Sleep
Adequate sleep can give you plenty of energy! You can get notifications for when you should go to sleep and when it is time to wake up. You can also gain deeper insights into the quality of your sleep, awake times, breathing quality, and how many hours of your sleep are REM, deep, and light sleep. Plus, you can find out how your sleep ranks among other users.
Fitness Goal Tracker
The wearable medical device is the best and most easily accessible option to track the progress of your fitness goals.
Improved Mental Health
As suspected, mental health and physical activity are strongly correlated. A wearable device can tell you the time that you spent being active or sedentary. You can improve your mental health by tracking and aiming to increase your active hours. New wearable devices are very good at measuring your stress levels during the day, too. Moreover, they can remind you to do a breathing exercise to calm down.
Assisting Patients with Chronic Illness
AI can be a handy and easily accessible option for people with chronic illnesses. Asthma or diabetes patients often track their heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep patterns, and blood pressure levels to better understand their health.
The Digital Generation Is Emerging in Healthcare
Technology is rapidly evolving, but we still have a long way to go before we can truly make full use of today’s possibilities in the world of healthcare. “Mindsets still need to change, and policymakers need to keep up – to name but two challenges,” Filip Heitbrink concludes. “However, with the rise of digital generations, it’s clear that openness towards technological solutions will increase faster than we might think, especially in healthcare.”
At the same time, emerging technology will always be ahead of its real-world application. But soon, learning algorithms will increasingly be able to interpret healthcare data – and probably one day establish diagnoses themselves! Who knows: We might be blogging on that evolution sooner than expected…
Are you immersed in the digitalizing journey? Discover how Scilife Smart Quality Platform can help you accelerate the process!