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2018 Healthcare Predictions

Tuesday 2 January 2018

As 2017 quickly comes to an end, it’s time for us to share our technology and healthcare predictions for 2018.

As the NHS faces its biggest challenges in its existence and reaches the crisis point, it is believed that advancements in technology can bring the NHS up to modern standards and help meet the needs of the ever-growing UK population. Our top 4 trends and predictions are:

A doctor on a computer screen

The Rise of ‘Telemedicine’

Simon Stevens recently predicted that the wait list for hospital operations could soon hit 5 million, with one in ten people on waiting lists by 2021. How can technology ease this pressure, and could the answer lie with telemedicine?

What is it?

A ‘telemedicine’ app allows medical professionals and healthcare providers to communicate with their patients effectively in a non-surgical environment. These apps join both doctors and patients in a conference style call/meeting so they can receive regular check-ups, obtain new or repeat prescriptions and access other medical attention – all without the need to travel to a scheduled physical meeting with a doctor or clinician.

Prediction

Expect a rise in telemedicine in both the NHS and private sector throughout 2018 as new free/paid services continue appear, alongside the increased adoption of the NHS’s new 24/7 NHS GP service.

Benefits

Telemedicine does have some limitations such as the inability to perform physical examinations, the initial start-up costs of creating the app, and a fear of a break down in care continuity as patients could potentially speak with a different clinician on each call.

 

A mobile phone with a hard on screen

Increase in mHealth Technology

What is it?

A device which enables users to monitor, measure and improve their health using a mobile device. Over the last 5 years there has been a rapid increase in this sector with wearable devices such as FitBit becoming popular among consumers who want to track and manage their health and fitness.

Prediction

A rise in combination apps and wearable devices allowing patients to take control of their healthcare.

Benefits

As the wearable devices market continues to increase with many brands such as FitBit, Apple and Garmin bringing out innovative new products, the current challenge is proving to be around education. Suppliers and providers are struggling to convince patients these devices exist and that they are worth an investment to help manage their ongoing health.

Logistical issues such as keeping devices charged can also be an issue. If it is not charged, it will not record or monitor. For patients who need to regularly monitor their health, when will they charge their devices, and what happens if they forget?

 

A blue and red robot

Robotic Healthcare Assistants

What is it?

The combination of both Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is now reaching the stage where it is able to replace certain health and care staff in certain activities. This reduces labour, automates certain time-consuming tasks, and potentially prevents incidents of human error.

For example, AI will be able to advise and remind patients to take their medication, as well as issuing alerts to external carers/family when patients have not got out of bed or if they require physical help.

Prediction

By 2020, one hospital in four with 200 or more beds will have robotic healthcare assistants.

Benefits

Despite the positives, there are many limitations and consequences of robotic assistants at the moment. For patient care staff will still need to be present to help patients physically and in case of malfunction.

The initial investment into AI robots will no doubt be costly as the technology is expensive and will need to regular high quality maintenance to ensure patients are not put at risk and errors don’t occur.

And finally, will we really trust robots to perform complex surgical tasks on behalf of humans? There is still a way to go before the general public will truly trust robots and AI.

 

A screen with data on

Generic – Data/Analytics/IoT/ AI

IoT Will Take Over the Home

One of our previous blogs discussed how the Internet of Things has gone OTT and it has not slowed down since. As smart technology becomes more accessible to consumers many homes are now investing in this new technology with everything from clocks, speakers and lights to doorbells, blinds and toasters becoming connected to the internet.

What is it?

Home automation is exactly as it sounds – automating the ability to control household items with the push of a button or voice command. Smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod allow users to ask questions and receive answers in seconds. These devices can manage music playback, to do lists, traffic information, and other real-time data. Some brands allow smart speakers to connect to other appliances and control them, increasing the home automation network even further through either voice or mobile applications.

Prediction

The continued use and implementation of smart technology with smart speakers is expected to increase from 4 billion units to 7 billion by 2020.

Benefits

Home automation provides users with a whole host of benefits ranging from convenience, efficiency, security to customisability. For example, home owners can answer their door when they are not home, check the property and surrounding areas for potential security threats, talk to pets and control their appliances all from their mobile devices whilst on the go. Devices can enhance living conditions and drive efficiency within the home.

Although they come with many benefits, home automation and IoT devices are not always reliable. Technology is known for being hackable and if in the wrong hands, can lead to awful outcomes. Hackers can break into your home once they have obtained the password to you lock, giving them the ability to physically gain access to your house.

 

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