2019 has been a big year for innovation already – and we’ve only just surpassed the halfway mark. It’s certainly an exciting time with plenty to chat about in terms of healthcare progression.
With the development in medicine at an all-time high, there’s never been a safer time to be alive, but that doesn’t stop the innovations from forming and becoming a further extension of what is capable. With everything from 3D printed implants, VR headsets and even personal companion robots, there’s a serious chunk of development staring right at us.
Artificial intelligence is perhaps the biggest contributor to the year with personalisation so vital to the healthcare industry. Telemedicine, chatbots and companion robots all use AI for their basic functions, so it’s difficult not to give the tech a mention, but it’s not responsible for every innovation of the year so far.
So, what are the highlights in healthcare innovation in 2019 so far?
One of the biggest global cancer killers comes cases of cervical cancer with over 570,000 new cases in 2018 alone and with 90 percent of deaths occurring in low-middle income societies, it was seemingly only a matter of time before development to decrease the mortality rate was finalised.
MobileODT has tried to tackle the issue head-on with a battery-powered hand-held colposcope, named the EVA system, which allows healthcare professionals to take high-quality images of the cervix. With identification early on, mortality can be significantly reduced and due to the portable nature, it can be used anywhere.
The device is based on smartphone technology, so it doesn’t only work to identify cancer and save lives, but is user-friendly too. There’s also a key feature allowing for “remote consultation feature to consult experts either in real-time or during a quality assurance check.”
We’re expecting a lot more noise to made from the guys at MobileODT very soon!
Blockchain in healthcare is all about removing the middleman and increasing the security surrounding transactional activities within the healthcare space – according to Digital Authority Partners.
By using securing blockchain technology (as also used in cryptocurrency) patients can view and share data with their healthcare professionals where necessary. Companies such as Medicalchain are pioneering the movement with a goal to:
“Medicalchain enables the user to give healthcare professionals access to their personal health data. Medicalchain then records interactions with [these] data in an auditable, transparent, and secure way on Medicalchain’s distributed ledger.”
No matter where you look at the innovation from, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s a match made in heaven. With the healthcare industry suffering serious security breaches on a daily basis, it’s about time a system was put in place to heal the cracks. It’s all about cutting out the middleman and increasing the security around the data – perfect for crypto and perfect for healthcare.
Companion robots are another big innovation in healthcare for 2019 with a focus on tackling loneliness, predominantly in the elderly/
Loneliness is becoming more and more recognised as detrimental to a number of health conditions, including that of cardiovascular disease. But it’s perhaps a lot more difficult to treat that you may first think, that is, without the innovation of companion bots to try and tackle the problem.
Companies such as Genie Connect are looking at friendly robots that are great for older adults to combat the feelings of loneliness. The bots are intuitive, voice-enabled and often resemble other popular virtual assistants such as Alexa or Cortana, but in a more humanised form. There’s a range of standard, as well as custom features, including video chat capabilities with family members and healthcare professionals.
It seems that instead of robots ultimately taking over, they’re more than willing to help and fill the gaps in society that are currently left open
Chatbots are by no means a brand new technology, but when you start including the healthcare mix into them – suddenly it’s a lot more impressive.
Chatbots that personalise health advice on a patient to patient level is no longer a key feature only seen in science-fiction movies but is now a reality and is being demonstrated as we speak. Instead of waiting to see doctors about information regarding personal healthcare, chatbots such as Florence provide 24/7 support for those who need it most.
Whether it’s a question about medication, new symptoms or even advice surrounding existing conditions, chat bot software systems can help whenever you need it. The app also comes with medication and healthy habit reminders, allowing users to track their health along the way.
As the app is AI based, Florence is constantly learning, and by extension, always improving. Although the company is relatively new, there’s no telling how advanced it may be 5-10 years down the line.
VR is not a particularly new innovation into the healthcare industry with uses for surgeons to practice operations before the real thing. However, a new idea in the use of VR comes with the reduction of stress in patients undergoing difficult situations.
Startup VRHealth has paired with healthcare providers to work on the model of distracting patients with virtuality reality glasses to minimise pain in distressing situations. Whether that’s childbirth, broken bones or simply anxiety in the days/hours leading up to major surgery, VR has been shown to reduce stress, creating a better, safer and more comfortable environment.
But the company hasn’t stopped with the improvement of patient experience in the hospital, with the capabilities of VR, patients don’t have to be in the hospital at all to be evaluated. Instead, a focus on remotely accessing patients while they remain at home is another great innovation from the company.
Not only does this increase the patient experience, but also saves plenty of valuable time for practitioners, taking some of the stress out of the already stretched healthcare system. It’s a great way to improve lives, dedicating the time needed for each patient effectively. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of great consulting companies that operate in the healthcare space.
This article was contributed by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling
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