Going viral

Michelle Winny speaks to the channel to find how COVID-19 has been a catalyst for a much needed move towards a more modernised, digitised healthcare system and how tech is enabling this.

The ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic is having an enormous impact on the healthcare technology market although economists say it’s too soon to say to what extent this impact is exactly having. According to Signify Research, Philips Healthcare reported an 80% increase in order intake for Connected Care, “namely ventilators and patient monitors in its Q1 2020 orders versus Q1 2019.” Whilst Health Europa says, “reports estimate that the healthcare information technology market could cross USD $441.8bn (€372.25bn) by the end of 2025.”

“A connected environment will be the future of healthcare”, says Simon Applebaum, managing director, Spirit Digital. “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, wearable technology and healthcare mobile apps are just some of the advancements changing the future of healthcare. These technologies enable data to be linked together, healthcare professionals to rapidly share information and facilitate smoother communication between teams and patients,” he says.

Alan Lowe, CEO at Visionable says its video technologies that are integral to the future of healthcare, ““Video technology might be familiar to all of us. But emerging innovation in this space is allowing new ways of positioning multi-disciplinary care teams around patients. It is transforming stroke pathways. It is facilitating connected ambulances. And it is supporting new models of care delivery around the patient.”

According to Alan Hayward, sales & marketing manager for SEH Technology, tech has quickly become a huge part of healthcare and future developments are set to transform how doctors practice medicine, “One of the biggest impacts technology has had is the ability to store and access data. Using secure networks, doctors can now retrieve patient data from anywhere at any time. This also means that professionals can share medical information rapidly and easily with each other, resulting in better patient care.”

Speaking about the future of healthcare technologies, Hayward says it’s AI that will have the biggest impact going forward: “With rapid growth and exciting opportunities surrounding AI, the healthcare industry can use this technology to reduce and mitigate risk in a number of ways. Firstly, doctors can automate reminders for patients, either to prompt them to take medication at a specific time or remind them to book an appointment. AI can also deliver personalised dosage recommendations based on patients unique needs and environmental factors. Finally, it can identify people who are at a high risk and in need of medical intervention, triggering staff alerts to create incoming care plans.”

Hayward explains how Big data technologies have also become a staple in the healthcare market, “This technology allows professionals to gather big data in a fraction of the time. It’s ideal for those conducting research studies or clinical trials, as it allows for the instant collection of data from a diverse and vast population. Data collection of this scale also allows healthcare professionals to stay on top of emerging trends and techniques, but also recommend preventative steps for patients.”

Ewa Kieczka, business line manager at Future Processing Healthcare believes tech’s impact on healthcare has been monumental, “The amount of data generated in healthcare is massive – according to statista.com in 2020 it will reach 2,314 exabytes of new data; and this is where we arrive at the world of Big Data, which has significant benefits for healthcare. When it comes to new drug discovery, big data significantly reduces the time and cost of the process. Having access to accumulated data and appropriate models for analysis scientists can come up with diagnoses and new treatments more quickly and efficiently. Big data helps healthcare organisations optimise their workflow to reduce the operational costs. Using the analogy of Industry 4.0, healthcare is on the brink of its 4.0 version.”

“With the massive amount of healthcare data generated and stored in the cloud come benefits but also issues related to privacy and patient data security. On the one hand robust healthcare data analytics enables the discovery of new drugs and treatments more quickly and efficiently, on the other to obtain datasets necessary for machine learning to train algorithms is not a simple task. Blockchain could be a solution to provide a new model of healthcare data exchange. The data will not belong to a particular institution but to the blockchain itself and patients will have more control over how their data is used and shared. What the healthcare world needs is a single global database to be used for research and clinical trials and Blockchain could be the answer”, Ewa Kieczka explains.

She continues with telemedicine and mobile apps: “The current Covid-19 pandemic has speeded up the adoption of telehealth services and it looks like telemedicine is here to stay. In fact it is expected to become a $13 billion industry by 2023. It provides solutions to some challenges healthcare is facing, like the rapidly aging society with chronically ill patients unable to travel, who benefit from tele or virtual visits to physicians, or being monitored via remote devices. Mobile healthcare is becoming more and more promising as the number of healthcare apps available just on Google Play in the second quarter of 2020 has reached 46,360 which constitutes a 7.1 percent increase over the previous quarter.”

“According to Global Market Insights, healthcare IT market size is valued at USD 187 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at over 15.6% CAGR between 2020 and 2026. That is a huge pie and to be honest, our goal is to cut out a significant slice of it,” adds Ewa Kieczka.

Speaking about the pandemic’s impact on health tech, she says: “We have been observing the trends on the market brought about by the pandemic situation. A logical consequence was the sharp increase in the demand for telemedicine and mHealth equally so for healthcare institutions, professionals and patients. Actually we have been involved ourselves in a project which due to that demand has grown very fast and is currently on the forefront of mHealthcare innovation. I am talking about Bleepa – a CE marked instant messaging system which facilitates the sharing of clinical-grade medical images between personal devices, such as smartphones and tablets offering the highest standard of security – which we are developing with our partner Feedback Medical. The mobile application was initially meant for clinicians as a safe and reliable way of sharing and discussing patient medical imaging examination data, as it combines its basic function of a messenger with advanced radiological features e.g. a viewer of high quality scan results, which already on the outset of the pandemic got upgraded to cater for the needs of hospitals preparing to face the influx of covid-19 patients. Very quickly Bleepa was introduced into two NHS trust hospitals and is likely to replace pagers in the UK National Healthcare System as it was awarded a place on the NHSx National Clinical Communication Tool Framework.

“In my opinion, the case of Bleepa is a perfect example of how the pandemic stimulated the need for health tech. It is definitely worth following”, Ewa Kieczka adds.”

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