Digital revolution is one of the most powerful global trends that has caused the unprecedented penetration of information and communication technologies in all sectors of the economy, including healthcare. The development of this trend is associated with expectations of improving the quality of medical care, its accessibility, and its economic efficiency.
Remote monitoring of patients, telemedicine, portable ways of monitoring their own health, digitalization of the storage, exchange, and processing of medical data are just some overwhelming digital transformation in healthcare. Each of these areas has specificity and in many ways its own development logic.
The use of big data in healthcare
The use of big data technologies for the analysis of complex medical data sets opens up new possibilities in the field of healthcare. The main challenges of big data technologies in medicine are mainly determined by the features of the data circulating in modern healthcare and biomedicine. This data is often insurmountable for processing using traditional software, not only because of its volume but also because of the variety of data types and the speed with which they must be analyzed.
Using big data in healthcare has great advantages such as decreasing the level of medication mistakes, providing preventive care of patients, selecting appropriate staff for treatment, analyzing big amounts of information, and so on.
The high relevance of implementing big data technologies in medicine is also associated with new trends in the relationship between doctor and patient in the format of mobile healthcare technologies. Medicine is becoming more and more focused on a specific patient, for whom forecasting, disease prevention, and personalization of treatment are important.
Blockchain and inaccessible medical records
If the patient’s medical history is stored in one medical institution, and he is forced to visit other institutions, then the attending physicians may not know all aspects and choose inappropriate medications or conditions for recovery. As a result, patients may stay longer in the hospital or may lead to re-hospitalization. In addition, patients would like to have access to their treatment recommendations anywhere.
Nearly 70% of today’s healthcare providers prefer to have access to the latest clinical information. This fact has forced payers, insurers, and pharmacists to personalize their approach to patients. They offered multi-channel media platforms, including standards for managing, storing, and sharing electronic medical records and patient information portals.
Blockchain, a digital database of transactions, is expected to get $890.5 million by 2023. This technology helps clients safely exchange financial records and information with suppliers and exclude third-party.
InterSystems, a provider of information systems for healthcare facilities, has enabled Northwell Health’s hospital network to integrate data from 23 hospitals, 655 outpatient facilities, and 18.5 thousand affiliated doctors. As a result, Northwell Health created a unified patient register, which has about a billion data points, which makes it possible to practice centralized risk assessment and remotely monitor patients.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring is one of the most striking incarnations of new opportunities in the field of medical services offered by digital technologies. This area covers electronic devices and methods of wireless remote monitoring that allow doctors to monitor online the status of high-risk patients (suffering from chronic diseases, recently discharged from clinics, etc.) who are outside medical institutions.
An example of such monitoring can be the use of portable devices for continuous monitoring of the functional parameters of the heart of patients, electronic non-invasive glucometers for monitoring glucose levels and timely correction of insulin levels in patients with diabetes mellitus, as well as sensors that determine air quality and signal the need to use of an inhaler for patients with asthma.
The advantages of this area of digitalization are most often associated with the capabilities of proactive monitoring of the condition of chronic patients. On the one hand, constant monitoring of such patients can provide medical personnel with information about the development of an attack at remote monitoring points, and consequently, providing them with the necessary time to stop it with medication. On the other hand, the same devices can signal to patients themselves about a dangerous change in their condition, giving them the opportunity to take appropriate drugs in advance and prevent a real exacerbation.
Personal health monitoring tools
Personal health monitoring tools rather relate not to medical services, but to means of ensuring a healthy lifestyle. Technically, they may differ little from devices for remote monitoring of patients, but their purpose is qualitatively different. The use of personal health monitoring tools is determined by the free choice of people seeking to change their behavior to prevent certain diseases (and not by the doctor’s prescription, providing the necessary supervision of the patient with an already made diagnosis).
The range of electronic devices of this kind today counts hundreds of positions and is rapidly replenished annually. The most popular are special applications for smartphones (especially iPhone), as well as a variety of trackers in the form of bracelets, watches, special clothes, etc., which are already able to measure not only steps, pulse, but also pressure, the calorie content of food and drinks consumed, and even to compare it with energy costs due to the intensity of daily physical activity, etc.
In the coming years, the capabilities of most of these healthcare devices will include the function of transferring that medical data to medical institutions or to “cloud” data storage. In other words, these devices will become universal sensors of the state of health and thereby will increasingly come closer to multifunctional means of remote monitoring of patients.
Digital transformation trends in the area of healthcare are truly amazing, especially the speed of their development. Electronic innovations are already used in healthcare to forecast real-time demand for services, optimize treatment, and preventive measures, as well as, patients are allowed to independently track indicators that require constant monitoring.
There is no doubt that digital healthcare tools are the basis for the new, patient-centered healthcare system. Digital health consists of the new generation’s electronic solutions and an open platform for communication and integration. All these elements at a higher level provide interaction, data transfer, and joint access for all participants in the health system. Thus, digital healthcare allows all participants in the industry ecosystem, both traditional and new, to interact within the global network and jointly solve emerging problems.