Since the first Covid lockdowns hit almost two years ago, the MedTech sector has been on afterburners – a domain that’s historically been slow to innovate and adopt new tech and processes.
The pandemic, nonetheless, uncovered a demand for a significant leap towards a heavily computerized future. The MedTech / HealthTech domain has not only been a key driver of innovation during this time, but also a magnet for investment, and the main catalyst in consolidating the digital infrastructure as the backbone of what now many refer to as ‘the new normal’ in patient care.
If it was unsure how patients would be able to get treatment at the very dawn of the new decade, now we can look into the future with much more certainty. It’s prediction season again, so let’s take a look at some of the hottest tech trends that are likely to boom this year.
As providers and a new cohort of increasingly digital-savvy patients discover its convenience and accessibility, it’s hardly headline-worthy that telehealth is on the rise. However, one side-shoot is particularly likely to steal the show in 2022.
Why remote monitoring is a game changer
Telehealth in general is quite similar to traditional healthcare practices in that it’s still only any good as long as the patient checks in with their doctor regularly and seeks help on time.
Remote monitoring, however, is not only more time-efficient, less intrusive, and cheaper, but unlike a traditional check-up, it’s continuous and doesn’t depend on patient outreach.
The 24/7 collection of health data often requires wearable tech, which is another exciting chapter in the healthcare tech trends worth watching in 2022.
2. Big data
Whether it’s complex applications or a simple electronic health record system, data is everything. And the more you have (and are able to process) the more possibilities open up.
Big data can provide accurate predictions of how a treatment or illness would impact a certain population, and thus help prevent major epidemics. It’s also crucial in genetic research, pharmaceutical R&D, and even offers solutions in chronic disease prevention and the development of personalized treatment plans.
It’s certain that the number of data sources used, as well as the collection methods will continue to expand and diversify in 2022. This way, big data will also be fundamental to the growth of other MedTech innovations in artificial intelligence, and new arrays of medical IoT devices, as well.
3. Artificial intelligence
AI is synonymous with explosive progress, so if it’s a boom you’re looking for, definitely keep an eye on the world of machine learning.
How can AI be applied in healthcare?
The primary candidate for AI-driven disruption is the pharmaceutical industry, where machine learning has huge potential in discovering new drugs. It allows scientists to use virtual experiments instead of costly lab equipment in the initial phases of a project, speeding up fundamental scientific breakthroughs.
Swapping the lab for processing power is not just a theoretical possibility – it’s already a proven method that is at the doorstep of mainstream adoption. The first drug molecule developed via AI-enhanced lab experimenting was patented by a British-Japanese collaboration in early 2020 and it’s since been accepted for human trials.
Artificial intelligence is also an increasingly promising diagnosis tool, demonstrating its capability to equal doctors in the exact identification of complex and rare pathologies.
4. Internet of medical things (IoMT)
With remote health monitoring and wellness apps on the rise, a paradigm shift in medical IoT solutions is a question of when, rather than if. A plethora of commercially available fitness trackers already measure vital metrics like pulse, body temperature and blood pressure. So even without dedicated medical devices and custom software, basic functions like arrhythmia detection are within any doctor’s reach.
Wearables also empower the patient with insight and encourage educated patient-doctor discussions, and can even help motivate behavioral decisions that a clinician alone would have a hard time to dictate through treatment and advice.
Wearables are just the tip of the IoMT iceberg. Robots and smart devices can support medical staff from sanitation or supply-management chores, help minimize contact in high infection-risk environments, aid rehabilitation, and even perform minor surgeries.
5. Digital therapeutics (DTx)
App-assisted therapy and any type of care delivered solely via software falls under an entirely different branch, commonly referred to as digital therapeutics. Right now, one of the most exciting subfields of DTx is the medical application of augmented reality and virtual reality.
Whether the interface is patient-facing, clinician-facing, or a combination of the two, DTx is already being applied in rehabilitation, surgery planning, medical training, and more. However, new areas for the use of AR and VR are also emerging in physiotherapy and psychological treatment.
6. Data breach prevention
Although more a necessary evil than a fertile soil for medical breakthrough, the demand for advanced data security solutions is also expected to take off as violations are reaching new peaks with increasing amounts of healthcare data being collected worldwide.
Blockchain technology is a likely candidate to radically improve data security and compliance within the healthcare industry. Since it’s decentralized and inherently unmodifiable, blockchain’s application in the encryption, processing and storage of sensitive healthcare data is remarkably practical.
But again, blockchain technology holds much more potential than just protecting medical records. The tamper-proof transactions and smart contracts have their place in insurance settlements, and even in authenticating the origins of medication supplies.
It looks like the advancement of healthcare technology is forever tied to exponentially growing amounts of data being generated. With this snowball effect, cybersecurity will inevitably gain mounting importance – not just in 2022, but more and more in each year to come.
Software solutions to streamline your healthcare business
Digitalization futureproofs your healthcare business and sets it up for long-term success. SMEDIX can help you find the most fitting solutions for your stability and growth. Reach out to our team – we’re eager to create a better future for healthcare together.