The what and how behind the biggest technologies driving radical change in healthcare

The Top 9 Medical Technology Innovations in 2018

In an effort to reach the Triple Aim — improving health at the population level, lowering per capita costs and bettering the experience of care provision —  medical innovation continues to push boundaries and challenge current norms. At the forefront of trends such as remote monitoring, self-care, & the rise of telemedicine, or mobile health apps driving Rx-to-OTC drug conversions, improvements to medical (and non-medical) devices are not only touching more lives for the better, but rethinking how we cater to a growing and aging population as well.

This year, a wealth of burgeoning technology is expected to make the difference for the previously un-helped, including the implementation of artificial intelligence, payer-provider analytics dashboards, blockchain, and IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) devices, among a multitude of additional support systems. Here’s a rundown of what’s to come.

The New Tech In Town:

From centralized hospital monitoring to gene therapy, innovation ranges in complexity and use cases. In terms of their promise, these ten technologies represent that range in the challenges they solve:

1. Payer-Provider Analytics/Data software

An emerging data software revolution powered by various brands such as ReferralMD, Philips Wellcentive and econsult promises to optimize decision support, improve workflow and reduce patient leakage. 

With an estimated $90M dollars in revenue lost for every 100 employed physicians as a result of care teams receiving inaccurate information about their specialty care network, the importance of maintaining reliable patient data has never been greater. As such, this software blends the realms of insurance company with physician practice to track and demonstrate high-quality care at the individual and population levels. 

2. Artificial Intelligence

Often touted as one of healthcare’s biggest technological breakthroughs, AI is set to revolutionize a wide range of practices within the medical landscape. From automating time-consuming EHR-related processes, to aiding clinical judgement and diagnosis, the technology will alleviate the burden of sorting through heavy datasets and completing low-level repetitive tasks.

While certain areas have matured faster than others based on their respective levels of complexity, its clear that the transformative potential this technology bares is immense. Suffice it to say that what we’re seeing now is only the beginning. 

Source: Accenture report


3. Blockchain in Healthcare

As an independent, transparent and permanent database that cross-references duplicates for every transaction, blockchain’s widespread appeal among healthcare innovators is largely due to its ability to paint a comprehensive picture of a patient’s health in real-time. In stark contrast to the fragmented, insecure and proprietary data storage systems we have now, the technology makes the distribution of data safe and seamless. Think: switching from sharing a word document to a cloud-based solution where every edit is transparent, recorded in a timeline, and attributed to an author.

Here’s more on how blockchain is revolutionizing the industry.

What Could Blockchain Do for Healthcare?
Fragmented, insecure, and proprietary healthcare data could be completely redesigned on a blockchain-based

4. Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

According to an Allied Market Research report, the IoMT market is poised to reach $136.8 billion by 2021. Though healthcare has thus far been slow to adopt Internet of Things technologies in comparison to other industries, there are still some 3.7million connected medical devices in use today, and the number grows daily.

The IoMT can help monitor, inform and notify care-givers, as well as healthcare providers looking to identify issues before they arise or worsen. The tech provides objects reporting, automation in key areas, adaptability in measuring and an unprecedented level of precision. Products can range from vitals-tracking wearables, virtual home assistants, and emergency response systems, to portable diagnostics and medication adherence tools.

Of course, interconnectivity is not without risk. You can find three tips to form a security strategy that maximizes system safety in the link below:

The Internet of Medical Things Opens Health Organizations Up to More Threats
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5. Centralized Monitoring of Hospital Patients

‘Alarm fatigue,’ as the term has been coined, is nothing new for busy caregivers who often grow desensitized to constant hospital noises. According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 44 percent of inpatient cardiac arrests are not detected appropriately.

With the advent of centralized monitoring, off-site personnel add an additional layer of monitoring via sensors and high-definition camera, to monitor vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, pulse oximetry and so forth. Merged with a constant flow of live patient data, the technology can discern between unimportant alarms and situations requiring immediate attention.

6. 5G Mobile Technology

The latest iteration of cellular technology, fifth-generation wireless is engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks, thereby affording greater accessibility across all industries. In healthcare, this translates to faster emergency response times, wearables that empower consumers to take control of their own health, more reliable online consultations and enhanced sharing of centralized patient records.

According to wireless giant Ericcson, over half of cross-industry decision makers agree that the decentralization of healthcare to local centers will help address resource scarcity and efficiency-related problems, a sentiment that puts 5G technology front and center of the self-care movement. 

7. New Drug Development

From the new Cancer Drug Abemaciclib, to new classes of LDL cholesterol lowering drugs, breakthroughs in pharma continue to empower patients to seize control of their own health. 

According to Biospace, the three hottest spaces in drug development to keep an eye on in 2018 are: Immuno-oncology, Alzheimer’s Disease and Medical Marijuana, with industry watchers also suggesting non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) treatments (a liver disease similar to alcoholic liver disease, but appears in people who drink little or no alcoholas an emerging category.

Other blockbuster drugs promise to target HIV, type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and so forth. Overall, this is looking like a successful year for pharma, both in terms of scientific discovery and winning FDA approval.

8. Gene Therapy

Similar to deleting computer bugs and ‘coding’ in more preferred alternatives, gene editing has only recently hit its stride back in 2017 when it gained clinical approval for testing. Following the death of an 18-year old after an attempted gene therapy experiment attempted to reverse their inherited liver disease at the turn of the century, the technology is finally finding some success after decades of undelivered promises. 

Today, several techniques exist which seek to target different illnesses. From the well-known CRISPR gene editing tool, which is currently being tested in trials to fix genetic defects that cause beta thalassemia (with sickle-cell disease soon to follow), to Luxuturna, an insertion of functional DNA directly into the eyes to override genetic defects that cause progressive blindness, to CAR-T, a successful treatment method that uses injections of extra genetic material, and turn them into living cancer-hunting machines.

9. Hybrid Closed-Loop Insulin Delivery System

Type 1 diabetes sufferers rely on insulin pumps as an alternative to several daily injections, in accordance with a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) device thats used to determine how much insulin the patient should be self-administering. The “open loop” concept therefore empowers patients with the opportunity to practice self care and track their own health, while simultaneously burdening them with the responsibility of dosing themselves appropriately.

The solution to better managing Type 1 diabetes therefore lies in ‘closing the loop.’ Closed-loop insulin delivery systems are fully automated, connecting CGM with insulin pump to eliminate the need for people to test and manage their own insulin levels.

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