It’s the start of another year, and with it, whirlwind changes are expected for healthcare systems around the world. Here at Think Research, we love to ring in the new year by gathering what we think the top trends in healthcare will be for 2019.
- Transforming imaging and diagnostics: the Food and Drug Administration in the US has expedited approvals for AI software for imaging and diagnostics. For example, Google DeepMind’s neural networks are matching the accuracy of medical experts in diagnosing 50 sight-threatening eye diseases. In addition, the proliferation of smartphones and wearable tech is enabling consumer, at-home diagnostics
- Identifying risk factors: Researchers at Google were able to use AI to study and measure cardiovascular risk factors, for example. In another study, AI has been used to detect diabetes from heart rate patterns, with 85% accuracy.
- Clinical trials: Apple’s open-source frameworks ResearchKit and CareKit are helping to recruit patients into clinical trials and monitor their health through various apps
- Pharmaceutical companies are evolving, partnering with AI startups to discover new drugs for a multitude of diseases
Alternatives to Opioids
In response to the well-documented opioids epidemic, non-opioid pain management methods will continue to increase in popularity. Chronic pain is the leading cause of opioid prescriptions, and while many clinically-validated alternatives to pain relief exist, to date none have been able to fully curtail the epidemic and provide a singular alternative. Rather, many avenues are being investigated to suit individual ailments, while alternatives for general pain management could focus on increasing the prescription of lower-strength pain management solutions, such as recommending regional anaesthetic nerve blockers for extremity surgeries, or combinations of more conventional medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
Here at Think Research we’re playing our part in proposing alternatives via our digital order sets, which can assist physicians by providing a breadth of non-opioid pain management options.
Whatever the solution may be, as the wider long-term effects of opioids become more ingrained in the consciousness of the general public and healthcare community alike, we predict their popularity as a form of pain management will continue to decline dramatically in 2019.
Until now it may feel that the hype has outpaced reality when it comes to the implementation of blockchain. However 2019 may be the year that blockchain technology begins to gain momentum in the healthcare sector. In a nutshell, blockchain technology securely records transactions. Its applications in many industries makes it ideally poised to improve efficiency in healthcare, a sector known for collecting massive amounts of data. Recently, a report by PwC outlined multiple areas where blockchain can have significant impact in healthcare, including supply chain integrity, inventory management, payments, data management and research & development.
With the well-documented benefits that blockchain could potentially bring to the industry, we expect 2019 to be the year when the hype translates into reality as those early adopters begin to create a network effect.
Consumers Taking Charge
In 2018, we predicted that consumers would be taking more ownership of their personal health, and this trend certainly continues in 2019. Personal monitoring devices are becoming more ubiquitous, as consumers continue to embrace the technology in their everyday lives.
Wearable technology is becoming increasingly more prominent in the healthcare market especially, as the usage continues to grow beyond mere lifestyle extensions (such as nutritional apps or pedometers), and into fully-fledged medical monitoring. Improvements in remote patient monitoring technology and increased adoption by medical institutions are cited as key predicted drivers of growth in this area. This report by Juniper Research estimates that 5 million individuals will be monitored remotely by healthcare providers by 2023.
At Think Research, we develop evidenced-based tools that empower clinicians to provide the best possible care. We’re constantly monitoring the latest tech trends, gaining clinical insight from expert panels and associations, and participating in industry conferences, but even we can’t predict the future with perfect certainty.
What do you think is in store for 2019? How should our product roadmap respond to these trends? We’d love to hear your insight.