The healthcare industry has long been a breeding ground for innovation and technology. Over the years, we’ve seen significant growth in various procedures, facility capabilities, and resources. However, experts confidently suggest the best is yet to come.
4 Technological Shakeups
“Medicine is remarkably conservative to the point of being properly characterized as sclerotic, even ossified,” writes Eric Topol, cardiologist and researcher. “There are many reasons for this restrained approach, but much is directly tied to industry rules and regulations.
“Beyond the reluctance and resistance of physicians to change, the life science industry (companies that develop and commercialize drugs, devices or diagnostic tests) and government regulatory agencies are in a near-paralyzed state,” Topol explains, “unable to break out of a broken model determining how their products are developed or commercially approved.”
However, Topol and his counterparts agree that this is slowly changing.
Here are some technologies that are expected to dramatically impact healthcare in the coming years:
- 3D Printing of Body Parts
Few aspects of healthcare technology are more intriguing than the potential benefits and uses of 3D body part printing. Twenty-five years ago, this would have sounded like a far-fetched dream. Now, in 2016, we’re on the cusp of seeing tangible results.
Researchers have already produced “living” tissue and organs in labs. And these parts have been inserted into animals with proper functioning. In the future, the hope is that technology will advance to such a degree that bones, tissue, and muscle structures can be created with 3D printers and implanted into the human body for cost-effective and transformational procedures.
- Digestible Sensors
Digestible sensors were approved in 2011 and have provided healthcare professionals with better insights and information regarding patient health and how different treatments affect bodily systems and organs. In the coming years, this technology is expected to grow beyond case studies and be used by doctors around the world.
The hope is that digestible sensors will allow individuals to swallow pills that work and let doctors study results over time. This would prevent unnecessary visits and increase the timeliness of care.
- Electronic Visit Verification
In July 2014, Sandata Technologies, a leader in technology solutions for home-based healthcare, announced their intentions of implementing statewide electronic visit verification technology.
“The system captures caregiver arrival and departure times, location, member and caregiver IDs, and tasks performed during the in-home visit,” the 2014 press release explained. “Rules-based claims submittal will increase compliance and claims accuracy, reducing inappropriately billed services. The result is improved oversight into home and community based program delivery, streamlined claims, and reductions in fraud.”
While visit verification technology has been around for a while, this marked a major turning point in industry-wide adoption. Over the past couple of years, electronic visit verification has developed into a transformational technology that safely increases regulation outside of the standard healthcare environment. As home-based care continues to grow, look for this technology to improve even more.
- Smaller Blood Tests
Nobody particularly enjoys having their blood drawn. Well, in the future, you may not need to have as much of your blood drawn at your doctor’s office. Companies are in the process of designing technologies that use micro-samples of blood – 1/1000th of the typical blood draw amount – to draw test conclusions.
Not only would smaller blood tests be less of a nuisance, but they would also cost a fraction of the price. From a healthcare facility’s point of view, this could increase efficiency and lower expenses.
Putting it All Together
Thanks to technologies like these, the future of healthcare is bright. In five or ten years, we may no longer look at the industry as “sclerotic” and “ossified.” Instead, we’ll hopefully see it as modernized and progressive.