Healthcare trends impacting our lives

Today’s rapid pace of innovation is revolutionizing many industries, and healthcare is no exception. Spending in IT in the healthcare sector is predicted to outpace similar spending in other industries. Digital health funding also hit a new high in 2015, reaching nearly $6 billion.

An aging population will also drive further innovation in healthcare. By 2060, there will be 98 million seniors in the U.S., and the trend isn’t unique to this country. The number of people over 60 years of age globally is forecasted to exceed 2 billion by 2050, two-thirds of them in Asia. An aging population puts increased pressure on healthcare to provide preventative strategies and care.

As the healthcare industry strives to improve efficiency, flexibility, and patient care, it will be transformed. Here are key technology trends that will have an impact on healthcare in years to come:

Infiltration of smart technology
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, sensors, virtual reality, wearables, and robotics will all drastically enhance the health care industry. A greater use of smart technology will help doctors and caregivers provide life-saving support in complex situations.

For example, robust virtual reality applications and tools with smart sensors could help medical providers deliver critical, first-level support in simulated environments. And the future of surgery is robotic, data-driven, and AI-enabled. Patient information could be delivered via smart eyewear to a doctor during surgery.

At HP, we collaborated with EchoPixel to enable doctors to see and interact with medical images the way they would with real physical objects. Powered by the HP Zvr Virtual Reality Display and HP Z440 Workstation, it works by using four cameras to track the user’s head movements, glasses to turn images into 3D visuals, and a stylus to let users move and interact with objects in real time. That means physicians can use this technology to virtually examine and interact with their patient’s anatomy in three dimensions, without making a single cut.

Personalized medicine
The data obtained from these devices will make it easier to make data driven decisions and personalize treatment to patients. We’re now in an era where each person can be clearly identified at an individual level, instead of a population level. Medical decisions will be based on data, and personalized to meet each patient’s needs.

Offering a custom-made treatment will decrease time spent finding the most effective treatment, not mention reduce the cost for hospitals, doctors, and patients alike.

Security
As personalized medicine is more widely practiced, security challenges arise. Current practices around privacy and confidentiality, as well as regulatory oversight will need to be altered to meet the changes personalized medicine will bring to the healthcare industry.

However, this is nothing new. Security concerns are a catalyst for innovation when the severity of security breaches is realized. Healthcare organizations need to carefully evaluate their applications and support they have in place to ensure patient information is secure.

Hospitals and healthcare can also benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT) technology with badges or wearables to get real-time location services of staff, medical devices, and patients. In addition to improving security, the use of IoT can improve efficiency of resources and productivity.

HP is doing our part by bringing security improvements such as new HP Connection Inspector, an intelligent embedded security feature created by HP Labs, to help printers stay ahead of malware attacks with advanced self-healing capabilities.

Global Diagnostics
At HP, we’re working on advancements in microfluidics, IoT, and Hypermobility to move from the world where systems are centralized — where doing tests are very expensive and slow — into a world of global diagnostics, where things happen very cheaply and the power is put into the hands of the individual. In particular, the HP researchers are developing new ways to make biochemical testing and diagnosis faster, cheaper, and more easily conducted in the field.

As technology continues to paint the future of the healthcare industry, it’s critical that companies continue to innovate. We’ll experience more personalized treatments, earlier diagnoses, more secure care, and additional benefits. What do you see for the future of healthcare? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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