Advertisment

“Health tech standards are slower than advent of new technologies”

There has been a tremendous increase in the number of interconnected devices that generate, collect, analyze or transmit health data.

author-image
VoicenData Bureau
Updated On
New Update
pg Health tech standards are slower than advent of new technologies
Guruprasad S
Advertisment

Guruprasad S

Vice President, Robert Bosch Engineering & Business Solutions

There has been a tremendous increase in the number of interconnected devices that generate, collect, analyze or transmit health data. Augmenting this data with a layer of artificial intelligence and machine learning will generate timely insights resulting in faster and more accurate diagnoses and treatments.

Advertisment

Upcoming technologies like blockchain have the potential to reinstate trust in the digital healthcare space by addressing issues of data security and privacy. Features like smart contracts enable fast and secure micro-transactions that enable seamless transfer of patient medical records where it is needed to advance medical science.

Even the most experienced clinical surgeons face surprises on the operating table. New technologies like AR/VR reduce the likelihood of such surprises, allowing for digital rehearsals of high-risk and complex cases. These technologies could be further leveraged to educate patients prior to planned procedures, improve caregiver training and even help patients express their complex symptoms more effectively.

Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is another promising new technology that delivers connectivity at low data transmission rates. This would enable sensors with limited device processing capabilities and limited battery life to handle high-intensity and short-lived demands of new generation IoT applications. This is an important need for continuously monitoring patient’s physiological parameters for reliable remote healthcare monitoring systems.

Advertisment

Patient engagement is another area that healthcare organizations desire to address effectively since it helps to deliver realizable business value and superior patient care at affordable costs. Intelligent healthcare automation enhances the patient experience and increases compliance by automating patient pre-authorizing, claims processing, operational analytics, medical record management and other necessary but mundane tasks.

Patient data and other challenges

Using digital technologies can enhance the efficiency of healthcare businesses and provide tailored individual care. However, this could lead to a potential system design paradox for the providers: “which is more important?”, “why put effort into standardizing care pathways when the goal is to shift towards personalized care?”

Advertisment

The healthcare system is burdened with caring for a growing patient volume and an aging population. It is already in a crisis with insufficient physicians, nurses, and technicians to diagnose and treat patients – a global deficit of 9.9 million healthcare professionals is expected by 2030.

Additionally, according to the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report, chronic or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have already surpassed infectious diseases as the leading threats to global health. Because of the complex and often-lifelong treatment for these chronic illnesses, as well as increased longevity, managing NCDs has put healthcare systems under tremendous strain. When considered collectively, these issues have the potential to increase overall healthcare costs while increasing caregiver fatigue.

Data is something that healthcare companies have dealt with over a long time. The challenge, however, is making this data accessible and interoperable so that meaningful insight is drawn while ensuring sensitive personal data protection.

Advertisment

Patients and caregivers agree that healthcare systems require more access to diagnostic technologies. Diagnostics have become important generators of value for patients and health systems, but this promise has not been realized in all contexts, notably in low and middle-income economies. It is rather well known that diagnostic development has been stalled for a number of diseases and that even when appropriate tests are available, they are not always accessible or affordable to those who require them the most.

Open-source hardware, personal medical devices, and mobile phone applications are allowing for the creation of unique medical devices and individualized care. They, however, create new issues in blending the need for regulation with the need to innovate quickly and effectively. Health technology standards and regulations reform are much slower in comparison to the advent of new technologies, making it challenging to adapt existing standards to the most promising advances. While regulatory guidelines have been revised to reflect the proliferation of health-related mobile applications, determining whether and where these guidelines apply can be challenging.

Connectivity, interoperability is need of the hour

Advertisment

One of the industry’s most important breakthroughs is remote health care. People stay at home while receiving their treatment, and caregivers treat more patients consuming less time. Physicians have access to higher quality and continuous clinical data than those gained during physical visits because wearables, biosensors, and smart medical gadgets provide them directly from the user, including statistical views and reports.

By utilizing these digital medical solutions, patients will be able to discover impending issues faster, prevent deterioration, and better manage their conditions. On the other hand, healthcare providers can improve care outcomes while saving precious time and resources. Technology can boost efficiencies across the patient journey and alleviate resource constraints.

The healthcare system’s design contradiction, which forces providers to choose between standardization and personalization, presents a unique opportunity to create solutions that strike a balance between the two while also leveraging digital for collective societal goals. Standardization, at its least, can provide efficiencies that allow more time for complex and tailored treatments. Similarly, customization helps those working within a system to cater to the requirements, needs, and preferences of individuals and local communities they serve. The conflict between the two is minimized by preserving the values of individual agency, professional autonomy, and relationship-based care.

Advertisment

Interoperable platforms aid healthcare players in ingesting, managing, storing, viewing, sharing, and exchanging medical data irrespective of geographies. It also facilitates sharing of electronic health records (EHR) allowing doctors to have a better picture of their patient cohorts. Integrated health systems (IHS) have enabled the secure transmission of medical images, making data transfer faster, cheaper, and more dependable. They are, at their core, vital connectors that lead to better patient outcomes and at the same time provide a secure single repository for health data in order to prevent data leaks and vulnerabilities from unauthorized devices or individuals.

As artificial intelligence (AI) clearly demonstrates its ability to tackle many of the most time-consuming and variable aspects of diagnostic medicine, hospitals will be able to address the imbalance between available expertise and growing patient volume by incorporating this technology as a central component in routine patient management. Medical Image analysis coupled with machine learning and AI holds the promise of addressing diagnostic efficiency concerns as well as the potential to drive the value-based treatment with insights that go beyond what modern medicine can now provide.

Solutions to the regulatory problems could be publishing documentation and making it openly available for review, increasing transparency to cover people’s everyday use of personal health technology. Allowing patient groups to review mobile applications, create their own guidelines, and collaborate with one another can accelerate the evolution of regulations at par with the pace of digital technologies.

Reaping benefits of big data

The focus of healthcare data analytics will change from “big data” to “valuable small data.” Globally, the increasing digitization of healthcare workflows is resulting in a data explosion throughout the care cycle. In comparison to other emerging technologies, this makes extracting insights from existing healthcare data for specific use cases a comparatively low-hanging fruit. Furthermore, because health data is the “holy grail,” analytics solutions are seen as the first step towards catalyzing complementary technological promises based on healthcare data (for example: AI, cloud computing, and blockchain).

Current technologies are frequently portrayed as building barriers between patients and caregivers. In order to eliminate these barriers, the focus must shift from conversations surrounding digital transformation to digital clinical outcomes. Population health management, financial performance improvement, and operational automation by patients, payers, physicians, and procedures are all significant themes driving this potential opportunity. Furthermore, the rise of value-based care and outcome-based reimbursement programs will fuel demand for customized analytics solutions.

Digital therapeutics is on the verge of becoming a viable medical alternative, utilizing communication-based technology, applications, and software to improve patient outcomes while also lowering healthcare costs. By obviating the need for a drug or supplementing a standard of care, digital therapies can enhance patient outcomes. Digital therapies will grow in popularity as a promising healthcare solution that adds a curative component to technology. Aside from diagnosis and treatment, prevention and recovery are becoming new priority areas as the breadth of care for these chronic conditions expands. To properly stratify at-risk patients for a preventive and targeted treatment paradigm, the opportunity lies in creating a holistic perspective of individual health, lifestyle, and environmental data beyond clinical health records.

Businesses are over-burdened with data from varied sources – both internal and external. This is leading to an increased societal focus on the topic of who actually is the owner of such acquired data. Bernard Marr, author of the bestseller “Big Data in Practice” describes “Data Democratization” as everybody having access to data with no aggregator acting as a gatekeeper thereby creating a bottleneck to its access. Data Democratization is being aided by emerging technologies like Blockchain, which create numerous prospects to enable secure collaboration among multiple parties who may have no trust amongst themselves.

5G: The new healthcare driver

The emerging telecommunication revolution in the form of high bandwidth 5G networks will further propel the growth of Artificial Intelligence of Medical Things (AIoMT). AIoMT is a fertile bed for data (both what it generates and what it transmits). Hence, pipelines that handle data become an equally important factor and enabler so the overall system does not get clogged leading to under-performance. 5G networks will also act as a clear enabler in higher adoption of Edge-Computing within AIoMT systems due to their low-network latencies and higher response times. Today’s raw data byte-driven AIoMT systems will mature towards Voice and Video-based systems providing closer to human behaviors and outcomes.

The future will be focused on primary care modernization. Advanced primary care services with larger and more varied care teams are expected in the future. Social workers, nutritionists, health coaches, and physicians are among those who will deliver a more comprehensive range of services aimed at improving health and well-being.

Infrastructure and platforms that can service highly empowered and engaged individuals in real-time will be required in this new world of digital health. The pipes will have to be laid by someone. Builders of data and platform infrastructure will create and administer site-less health infrastructure to connect consumers and other healthcare stakeholders, as well as establish platform component standards.

Benefits from pharmacies and present mass-produced drug programs will also change. Not only has pharmaceutical research enhanced the development of specialty medications and biosimilar, but it has also advanced the development of treatments tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup (DNA). Precision medicines based on genetics will be developed to target specific cancerous tumors. Combining the two disciplines of 3-D printing and nanotechnology has the potential to drastically alter how existing components are made as well as create a gamut of whole new materials with wider applications in medicine. Pharmaceutical corporations will almost certainly morph into actual life sciences firms. The utilization of one’s biometrics for ongoing pharmaceutical treatments will require data once again.

Advertisment