What’s new? Some powerful key findings from a January 2020 Healthcare Trends Report conducted by Stanford University bring new insight into digital and data-driven healthcare. These developments indicate new trends in physician preparedness and ongoing training as well as increasing engagement with machine-harvested and interpreted data. Healthcare data and digital healthcare are two important components of the way everyone is receiving medical care. Whether you are a patient or provider, these healthcare trends provide valuable forecasting into the future of medicine.
Digital Healthcare Updates
The healthcare updates issued by Stanford University health fell into a few categories. Healthcare trends were highlighted for:
- Automated technology and artificial intelligence (AI)
- New health data sources
- Implementation of new technologies
- Administrative challenges
The healthcare data trends indicate a shift in all four areas.
Automated Technology and AI in Healthcare
The report indicates that automated technology and AI is changing the way healthcare is being provided and received. These data points were reported:
- Automation could apply to more than 30% of medical work within the next two decades.
- 47% of doctors and nearly 75% of medical students are pursuing training in tech subjects, including advanced statistics, coding, population health and genetic counseling.
- 34% of doctors are using continuing education or supplemental training to pursue courses in AI.
This trend for physicians to pursue tech training is made imperative by the increasingly digital nature of healthcare. Whether your doctor’s office uses a simple app to communicate with patients or surgeons are practicing in virtual reality (VR) environments, technology is inescapable. This is arguably the largest overlap of tech innovation and medical practice that has occurred so far between the two fields. Projections indicate that the overlap will only increase.
The Center for Open Data Enterprise published a report for the Department of Health and Human Services that detailed the increase of health data and AI applications. They found that things like algorithms, machine learning, augmented intelligence and new AI developments have more potential in healthcare contexts. These include:
- Reducing administrative activities
- Population health management
- Improved early detection and diagnosis
- The development of new drugs and therapies
New Health Data Sources
The data analyzed by AI is now coming from different sources. The Stanford report explained that patients themselves are now the suppliers of health information. These come from various sources and that data is increasingly valued by clinicians. The report also indicates that:
- Almost half of doctors and residents themselves use a wearable health device.
- 71% of doctors and 60% of medical students use the data from their own smart devices to impact health decisions.
- 83% of doctors and 79% of medical students see value in smart device data.
- More than half of doctors see value in the data gleaned from consumer genetic testing.
The popularization of wearable medical devices is now so common that there is a steady stream of baseline health information. This is accessible to most people and informs their personal choices. Consider the number of businesses, for instance, that hold step-count competitions. Or the way you can set an alert on your phone when you need a medication reminder. There are many iterations of these health-monitoring services.
The report indicates that, from a clinical perspective, that information is valuable. This data stream could inform a doctor’s treatment course for individual patients. It increasingly contributes to the way someone eats, drinks, exercises and lives.
Implementation of New Technologies
The Stanford report described a unique dynamic in which doctors admit to a gap between an existing digital healthcare application and their willingness to use it. There are many reasons for this. The numbers indicate that:
- Some doctors are hesitant to be trained on or implement telemedicine, genetic screening and personalized medicine.
- Only 18% of medical students in early 2020 said that their education was very helpful to equip them to utilize these digital healthcare technologies.
- 44% of doctors said that their education was not very helpful or not helpful at all in equipping them to use new medical technology.
Clearly, medical training has to align with medical technology. All the way back in 2015, the American Medical Association issued statements about how doctors needed to be trained to operate with digital healthcare. The Canadian Medical Association Journal states that doctors need retraining to have the skills to function in a way that utilizes available technology. From working with artificial intelligence systems, using automatic speech recognition and even having machines for “colleagues,” the medical field is changing. Medical training has to keep up.
Administrative Challenges in Healthcare
While many of these efforts are meant to alleviate administrative burden, the Stanford report’s final key finding was that practicing medicine is as challenging as ever. As many as 20% of the doctors surveyed say they would change their careers if they could. This significant level of professional dissatisfaction could be offset by the improvement of healthcare technology integration.
For example, a branch of 3M M*Model is working with virtual assistant technologies. The ambient intelligence they are utilizing is being incrementally implemented in various ways. Most of these would provide a streamline for physician workflows. It could also offset administrative tasks.
Digital Healthcare Technology
Companies like DocClocker are all about the integration of technology into healthcare. As a generation of digital natives ages into adulthood, it’s vital that they are given an opportunity to access medical care through digital healthcare technology. Providing apps and platforms that have high value will circumvent the negatives of “Dr. Google” and inadequate healthcare coverage. Go here to learn more about wait time apps, online doctor recommendations, OR communication and other digital healthcare technology that could be on your phone within seconds.