Healthcare is changing and developing with each year passing. New technologies and innovations are being introduced within the industry, creating excitement among medical practitioners, researchers, and patients alike. Many opportunities lie ahead, and it is only the beginning phase of another era where most diseases we now deem incurable may become perfectly manageable.
When discussing the future of healthcare, however, a certain topic always seems to come up – namely, IT and innovations. The process of digitalization of healthcare means better connectivity between disparate medical practitioners and institutions, which results in improved healthcare outcomes in general. Patients are able to receive more personalized medical treatment as well as real-time monitoring of their symptoms and problems. The future of the healthcare industry will inevitably rely on cutting-edge technology and innovations, which can then be further developed and personalized for each medical sector and use case.
Jeroen Tas, Chief Executive of Connected Care & Health Informatics at Phillips, explains the current healthcare system is essentially a ‘sickcare system’ – one that we have designed as a way to look after already ill-fallen people. In other words, we get sick and then seek medical help. With further technology developments it can become possible to keep track of the population’s health non-stop with the help of various apps, monitoring devices, and innovations. If people know more about their health and how they can improve it, as well as have the opportunity to visually keep track of their health progression, this may stimulate them to follow a healthier track when faced with diet and lifestyle choices.
For the team at Phillips, the connection between the patient and the medical provider is of immense importance and more specifically when treating chronic patients. Streaming vital data for a patient with chronic illness is going to be the key to patient wellness. Jereon says ‘We’re essentially talking about a 24-hour connection between the patient and those monitoring them. Chronic patients have to live with the condition 24/7, so the care should reflect that.’
Various apps, for example, can help track those patients’ conditions and alert the medical providers in advance if irregularities or alerts are found. Immediate reaction to an issue can make a significant impact to the patient and care plan. Moreover, what Jeroen Tas envisions for the future of healthcare is that medical practitioners will have a better connection between themselves too – with the help of digital technologies and innovations they will be able to share patient’s health data to specialists immediately.
With the advancement of technology and data management within the healthcare industry and in-depth knowledge and understanding of a patients’ health, more exact and personalized medicine will become available to patients. According to Prof. Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, heart disease can then be managed more effectively and even prevented. The idea of personalized medication for patients can positively influence a lot of diseases and their management. Personalizing a patient’s cancer treatment, according to Prof. Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician, will consist of more specific drugs which can then target tumors more effectively . Asthma and some lung cancers will be preventable due to the algorithms which will remotely monitor patient’s health on a real-time, continuous basis.
IT and data management will have a very strong impact on healthcare and only time will tell how far we can go with those developments. One thing is certain, though, the tremendous positive developments within the healthcare industry will become possible with the help of patient monitoring, advanced algorithms, and innovative systems to manage healthcare data. The future of healthcare lies in innovative data management and monitoring systems in conjunction with existing tools and terminology.