Across all sectors of human endeavor, technology remains the major driver of growth and development. Advancements in technology serve as the driving force behind national and global trends across various fields, including the health sector. In recent times, technological discoveries in the field of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, Internet of Things, and telemedicine have been at the front burner of global health trends.
With the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world, the year 2020 has been an arduous one and one full of lots of activities as far as the healthcare industry is concerned. Of course, amid all the chaos of the year, new strategies and advancements aimed at combating the spread of the virus had to be developed. So far, there have been advances in social care, environmental health, vaccine development, and other aspects of medicine this year. As the year gradually draws to an end, the following are some health issues to look forward to in 2021 as far as technology is concerned.
1. Telemedicine and Virtual Healthcare
In 2020. everything went remote as the need to maintain social distance as part of efforts to manage the spread of coronavirus increased. In the coming year, telemedicine will play a crucial role in health delivery. Statistics show that by the end of 2020, the number of virtual hospital visits was about a billion. This trend Is expected to continue in the coming year. Instead of consultations in brick-and-mortar offices, clinicians will see patients virtually, especially for routine appointments and minor consultations. It is also expected that a large part of virtual appointments for the coming year will be about mental health-related issues considering how difficult and mentally exhausting the present year has been.
2. Robotics and Autonomous Healthcare
As part of efforts to reduce the spread of the contagion, one of the areas that saw ongoing development in many countries of the world is in the area of robotics and autonomous healthcare. In the coming year, it is expected that there will be more robotic assistants capable of working both in organized hospital settings as well as in people’s homes. This will reduce the contact of healthcare personnel with infected individuals. Companion robots are also expected to see a wider adoption in reducing the effects of social isolation and loneliness.
3. More Breakthroughs in Genomics and Gene Editing
Gene editing, an advancement that makes it possible to modify or influence some specific traits in living cells, is one of the new interesting medical advancements in recent years. It is expected that this field will grow considerably in the coming year with even bigger breakthroughs on the horizon. Already, biotech companies have used this technology to create caffeine-free coffee beans and disease-resistant bananas, among other applications.
However, it is expected that this trend will find wider adoption in the field of medicine, especially in the treatment of killer diseases like cancer, heart diseases, muscular dystrophy, and so on. Breakthroughs in gene editing will likely lead to the development of a form of treatment known as precision medicine. Much more than generic drugs, old-style aloe toxin rid shampoo, and contemporary medical tips, gene editing will make it possible to formulate drugs that are customized to the specific genetic profile of each patient for greater effectiveness and minimal side effects.
4. Data Management and AI in the Healthcare Industry
Data management has become a crucial aspect of healthcare delivery in recent years. Digital devices and online channels now generate loads of data which, when managed properly, will help in painting an accurate picture of a patient’s history and manage decision-making in the healthcare delivery process.
AI-powered data management systems and AI-driven prediction tools are expected to see greater adoption in the coming year. These tools will allow healthcare providers to make more informed and accurate predictions based on available patient data and manage healthcare delivery processes better. AI will also be valuable in forecasting, allocation of healthcare resources, and health insurance.
5. Cross-Border Digital Health Collaboration
It took a global pandemic to reveal to all of us that we are not as isolated as we think. Diseases don’t respect state and country borderlines which is why many countries of the world now face similar healthcare challenges. If there is anything we have learned in 2020, it is the fact that we are all in this together. And as long as we share the same planet, we face similar threats as far as diseases and infections are concerned.
Digital collaboration, data exchange, unified dashboards are some of the trends that are expected to grow bigger in the coming year as efforts to develop vaccines, improve processes and deliver good quality healthcare continues in different countries all over the world.
2020 has indeed been a tough year, but the new year will come with its challenges. Technology has been and will also be our biggest safeguard against whatever challenges the new year will bring with it. The issues highlighted above are likely to be at the forefront of healthcare trends in the coming year.
Hannah Gilbert is a professional editor, content strategist, and a part of gahmj team. Apart from writing, Mary is passionate about hiking and gaming. Feel free to contact her via Facebook.