June 10, 2024

Innovation in Healthcare Practice

Innovation has been an integral part of the healthcare industry. However, the 21st century has seen some crazy advancements pushing the boundaries of what’s doable in healthcare. It’s the era of ‘hyper-innovation.’

Due to rapid technological advancements, competition in healthcare is fiercer than ever. Healthcare stakeholders are pressured to meet growing patient expectations while grappling with rising costs and inconsistent outcomes.

But with several innovative options, how do you choose the ones that will benefit your practice and patients and enhance healthcare delivery?

Let’s uncover the top 9 healthcare innovations that are transforming patient care.

Top 9 Healthcare Innovations

The global health tech market, valued at around $106 billion in 2019, is projected to soar to $504.4 billion by 2025. This highlights the tremendous potential of technology to metamorphose the health sector. 

Here are the latest innovations reshaping healthcare.

1. AI

Healthcare AI (Artificial Intelligence) presents unparalleled opportunities to enhance patient care, alleviate administrative burdens by automating clinical tasks, and propel medical research. It augments patient care through early disease detection and personalized treatments.

AI has evolved diagnostic imaging, helping radiologists detect abnormalities and provide more accurate diagnoses. For example:

  • AI speeds up breast cancer screening, reducing the need for biopsies.
  • Qure.ai pioneers early lung cancer detection.
  • CardioEchoAI, a product by Ligence, expedites the analysis of 2D transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) for cardiac risk diagnosis.

Additionally, AI-powered virtual health assistants and chatbots improve patient engagement and healthcare accessibility by answering patient inquiries, offering personalized medical advice, and triaging patients.

AI can potentially improve clinical care with AI-enabled with approved clinical decision support models.

AI-enabled virtual front desk is a reality now. Patients can schedule/reschedule, have questions answered, and initiate various tasks through the virtual front desk.

AI can assist in the documentation/generation of SOAP notes with recorded audio sessions, previous and current clinical data, etc.,

Glenwood is now beta testing various AI-enabled technologies in GlaceEMR.

2. IoMT

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a network of medical devices and applications linked to healthcare IT systems via online networks. IoMT includes a variety of devices like:

  • Smart thermometers and infusion pumps
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices
  • Personal emergency response systems (PERS)
  • Smart pills
  • Implantable sensors

In a hospital setting, healthcare professionals can utilize IoMT to track medication orders, monitor patient locations, collect data from wearable health devices, and communicate with ambulances.

Aritium Technologies, a Spanish startup, combines IoT and AI to connect personnel and materials and create ‘Smart Hospitals.’ It monitors asset statuses, hospital environments, and patient conditions, providing healthcare institutions with a detailed view to maximize asset utilization and improve patient care.

3. Point-of-Care Diagnostics

Point-of-care testing (POCT) refers to medical testing conducted near the patient rather than in a laboratory, accelerating clinical decision-making. These devices test glucose and cholesterol levels, analyze electrolytes and enzymes, screen for drug abuse and infectious diseases, and conduct pregnancy tests. POCTs are quicker, ensuring timely treatment and improved outcomes.

Moreover, they’re vital in remote or resource-limited settings (where lab access is limited), enabling timely diagnosis and treatment management. Thanks to technological advancements, these tests have now become more accurate and compact.

4. 3D-Printed Devices

The healthcare industry has taken a giant leap in medical treatment with the emergence of 3D-printed devices. The rise of 3D printing technology has transformed healthcare by enabling the development of dental and medical implants, prosthetics, and anatomical models tailored to meet individual patient requirements. These devices use lightweight biomaterials to customize each model to fit the patient precisely, significantly improving treatment outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Healthcare professionals are employing 3D-printed anatomical models as guides to plan surgery steps and ensure the precise fit of medical equipment for simple and complex procedures. This blend of visualization, digital planning, and 3D printed anatomical models allows clinicians to save 30-40% of the time in the operating room.

Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, 3D printing enables faster production through rapid prototyping, drastically reducing lead times and costs. Furthermore, it’s being used to create personalized surgical instruments that enhance a surgeon’s agility, improve surgery outcomes, and enable quicker, less traumatic procedures.

5. Genomics

Precision medicine has emerged as a transformative alternative to the traditional one-size-fits-all approach in healthcare. Personalized medicine customized to an individual’s unique genetic makeup is now possible by studying individual genes and their interactions. This breakthrough empowers healthcare providers to pinpoint genetic predispositions and create targeted therapies, improving diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention.

Next-generation sequencing technologies have further accelerated this progress by enabling rapid, cost-effective analysis of genetic information.

Another innovation in genomics is CRISPR technology, which allows precise gene editing. This revolutionary tool empowers scientists to make specific changes to the DNA sequence with accuracy and efficiency. Correcting faulty genes at the molecular level can potentially treat genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease.

Nest Genomics, a US-based startup, offers lab-agnostic software solutions for large-scale genomic programs across various medical specialties, such as cardiology, cancer, pharmacogenetics, pediatrics, and ophthalmology. Their platform seamlessly integrates with current EMR systems, aiding healthcare providers in decision-making by automatically generating personalized care plans tailored to the patient’s genetic profile.

6. Virtual Reality

VR (Virtual Reality) technology is utilized in diverse sectors, including healthcare, for various purposes, like medical training, education, and patient treatment. Companies like Osso VR and ImmersiveTouch offer VR solutions to train surgeons, which show superior effectiveness — 230% improvement in surgeon performance — compared to traditional methods.

Research conducted at St George’s Hospital in London revealed that patients who used VR headsets to view soothing landscapes before and during their surgeries felt more relaxed. 94% of participants reported decreased anxiety, and 80% reported reduced pain levels.

Neuro Rehab VR is revolutionizing physical therapy for stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors. By collaborating with physicians and therapists and using machine learning algorithms, they develop tailored VR training exercises that make rehabilitation engaging and effective. This innovative approach ensures targeted therapy sessions, leading to improved recovery outcomes.

7. Data Analytics

Our healthcare system is a repository of extensive health-related data containing invaluable information that can be harnessed for various purposes. Healthcare organizations can use advanced algorithms and data techniques to extract insights from diverse medical data sources like electronic health records, medical imaging, genomics, wearable devices, and patient demographics. This analysis helps identify patterns and trends, aiding clinical decision-making, improving patient outcomes, and enhancing operational efficiency.

A survey by Harvard Business Review shows that 94% of respondents agree that data-driven healthcare offers new opportunities for personalized patient care.

Predictive analytics, a key area of data analytics, analyzes historical patient data to predict future health events such as hospital readmissions, disease progression, or adverse drug reactions. This enables healthcare providers to intervene early, implement preventive measures, and tailor treatment plans to meet individual patient needs.

In managing community health, data analytics empowers healthcare organizations to identify care gaps and high-risk patient groups. It enables efficient resource allocation and targeted interventions for population health improvement.

Furthermore, data analytics fuels healthcare research and development, driving innovation. By leveraging clinical and genomic datasets, researchers can identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets, advancing precision medicine. It also streamlines clinical trials by improving patient recruitment, real-time monitoring, and data analysis, expediting the development and introduction of new treatments and therapies to the market.

8. Blockchain

Advancements in healthcare, driven by digitalization, telemedicine, and data analytics, all hinge on the seamless sharing of patient data across the healthcare system. The successful adoption of these technologies relies heavily on safeguarding the privacy and security of medical data. The recent healthcare cyberattack on Change Healthcare is a stark reminder of the pressing need to bolster healthcare cybersecurity.

Blockchain technology’s robust features cryptography, decentralization, and immutability provide an ideal solution to safeguard medical data. Blockchain technology can be integrated into various healthcare applications like:

  • Patient-centric EMR — Allows patients to control access to their medical records and track updates, preventing data silos.
  • Supply Chain Transparency — Tracks the source of medical goods, ensuring authenticity and reducing the risk of counterfeit products.
  • Smart Contracts — Shared digital agreements between manufacturers, distributors, and healthcare organizations stored on a blockchain ledger, streamlining contract management.
  • Credential Verification — Verifies medical staff credentials securely, enhancing trust in the healthcare workforce.
  • IoMT Security — Secures data from remote monitoring devices, protecting patient privacy.

9. Telehealth

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry has seen a surge in telemedicine. Among millennials, 74% prefer telemedicine, and 96% are satisfied with virtual mental healthcare.

Moreover, remote monitoring devices and AI-powered tools have boosted telemedicine efficiency. Doctors can now quickly analyze patient data, spot issues early, and plan treatment faster.

Tele-ICU, a significant telemedicine application, provides continuous monitoring and support for critically ill patients in remote or underserved areas or hospitals facing staff shortages. It tracks vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Using video conferencing and secure communication channels, specialists can interact with bedside healthcare providers, offering guidance, expertise, and recommendations for patient care management.

As technology continues to evolve, it promises to address the longstanding challenges in healthcare. Healthcare providers should boldly embrace these technological advancements to achieve excellence in patient care and practice management.

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