The year of COVID-19 has forced the healthcare industry to re-invent itself in a way that it has never done before. A crucial fact that the industry realized while battling the pandemic is that technology is absolutely essential to the industry’s ability to respond and take action quickly. This has, in turn, accelerated a few key trends in the hospital software industry in 2021. Some of them are:
Hospital Management Software
Hospitals and healthcare institutions have embraced hospital management software with an alacrity not seen before, as manual systems have proven to be overwhelmingly incapable of dealing with the crisis brought about by the pandemic. The automation of billing and claims processing, telehealth, e-prescription platforms, standardized records across all departments – all of these factors have shown themselves to be critical in order to provide patient health care that matches the incessant demands brought on by the pandemic. The year 2021 will see rapid re-alignment in digital health, as health systems leverage hospital management software to meet an increasing patient preference for the convenience of going digital.
Virtual & Augmented Reality
The only use of AI prior to the pandemic was in the use of chatbots, acting as first point of contact between the patient and hospital. However, the need to quickly scale up on efficiency, brought about by rising numbers of patients, has driven the increased usage of VR and AR. The trend of Virtual & Augmented Reality will be visible in areas such as training for surgeons, allowing doctors to practice their skills without having to be physically present at an actual OT.
The impact of Virtual & Augmented Reality will be felt in areas such as:
- Prep for surgery: surgeons can leverage data compiled from ultrasound, CT and MRI scans to reconstruct complex surgeries and rehearse planned intervention procedures
- Surgical robotics: the increased need for minimal physical contact has driven greater usage of surgical robotics; Virtual & Augmented Reality plays a crucial role here by providing simulated tactile and sensory feedback
- AR can be used to simulate patient surgeries for medical students, providing valuable hands-on experience and increasing their ability to provide a proper diagnosis
Reports indicate that the telehealth trend has soared to 38 times its original capacity during pre-pandemic times. Fueled by the increased demand from patients and doctors alike for online consultations, the telehealth trend is poised to revolutionize the healthcare business model, providing, in the bargain, greater affordability, better access to healthcare for patients who live in remote locations, and faster diagnoses.
Medical IoT, that integrates wearable devices with their monitoring systems, is another trend that is re-inventing the way healthcare providers and patients alike, monitor the health of the patient.
The impact of medical IoT can be seen in future trends such as:
- Non-critical tests can be run on portable, wearable devices, from which test results can now be shared remotely with a doctor
- Many IoT devices will become more affordable, with increased demand and greater IoT production
- Lowered costs for hospitals: with remote monitoring through wearable devices, hospitals can lower their costs on laboratory technicians and complex medical equipment and optimize costs accordingly
Healthcare IT trends predict the use of big data management to provide much-needed data analysis that are critical to the present pandemic situation, enabling better research and improving patient care. Healthcare IT trends also include the use of predictive analysis, prompting more hospitals to invest in better hospital management systems that use data analytics to provide insightful information to doctors and administration.
Globally, healthcare providers have had to overhaul their existing systems to be able to match the demand for faster and better-quality healthcare brought on by the pandemic. Keeping abreast of the latest trends in the medical industry in 2021, such as telehealth, IoT, healthcare IT, Virtual & Augmented Reality and so on, and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded seems the only way to go for hospitals, in the future; however, in keeping with the trends, medical institutions will be able to reap massive long-term benefits.