The latest healthcare technology trends aim to make interoperability a reality, while making chronic care management a part of patients’ everyday lives.
The goal of much of this technology is to automate tasks, so that clinicians have an opportunity to build better relationships with patients. Using artificial intelligence to assist with administrative tasks is predicted to save the healthcare industry $18 billion by 2026, according to an analysis by Accenture released in July 2017. As of February 2017, there were more than 100 artificial intelligence healthcare startup companies, according to CBI Insights.
In the next five to 10 years, healthcare technology will converge using blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and remote, autonomous monitoring devices, according to a report from the transformational health analysts at Frost & Sullivan.
"Blockchain technology may not be the panacea for healthcare industry challenges, but it holds the potential to save billions of dollars by optimizing current workflows and disintermediating some high-cost gatekeepers," says Kamaljit Behera, transformational health industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Burgeoning connected health devices and the need to protect against data breaches make blockchain, with its ubiquitous security infrastructure, the obvious foundation for emerging digital health workflows and advanced healthcare interoperability.”
Here are five of the most innovative healthcare technologies that aim to change how stakeholders from all areas of the healthcare industry interact.
1. Amazon Echo for diabetes care
Amazon Echo, the voice activated smart speaker, has partnered with drug company Merck & Co. to develop apps that assist people with type 2 diabetes. The tech company wants developers to use Echo’s digital assistant, Alexa, to make diabetes self-management easier.
The corporations joined to launch the Alexa Diabetes challenge, and ask developers to take advantage of Amazon’s ecosystem of applications, databases, and cloud services to create a patient-focused diabetes technology that will also be useful to caregivers, providers, and payers.
As of January 2017, more than 8 million people own at least one Amazon Echo. The device has more than 7,000 “skills” or third-party applications. Echo users ask Alexa to order pizzas, schedule Uber, remind them of events, and create grocery lists, among other tasks. VoiceLabs, a mobile ecosystem and analytics company, predicts that 24.5 million voice-first devices will be shipped in 2017.
“The bidirectional interaction is so easy for everybody. It’s great to imagine what’s possible,” says Nicole Bell, co-founder and executive director of Cambia Grove, a healthcare technology-focused accelerator. Bell was chosen as one of five judges of the Alexa Diabetes challenge.
“Type 2 diabetes is a very common disease, so if you can make a difference using technology that engages consumers and lowers disease burden, it’s an amazing proposition.”
As big name tech companies including Amazon, Apple, and Google continue to make investments in healthcare, the goal is to make chronic care management an easier part of overall life management.
“With the voice-enabled solutions that are already in your house, place of work, or a skilled nursing facility, we can imagine how that can help people when they are outside of the healthcare system. Consumer solutions that can bring down healthcare costs are of high strategic interest for everyone in healthcare today,” Bell says.
Call for contest submissions started in April, and resulted in 96 submissions that included games, data tracking, and analytic tech tools. The first round of finalists were announced in July. Five finalists will receive $25,000 and develop concepts into working prototypes in a virtual accelerator through September. A final winner will be announced in October 2017 , and awarded a $125,000 prize.