The healthcare industry has made—and is continuing to make—leaps and bounds when it comes to development, especially since the pandemic began. But even without COVID-19, healthcare technologies have made massive progress over the past few years, only catalyzed by the need for alternative solutions in the face of a global pandemic.
For this article, we talk about some of the biggest trends in healthcare technology for 2021, including virtual concierge, mobile healthcare apps, virtual reality, telehealth, and more.
1. Health tech PR
As the role of technology in health care grows larger, so does the need for better public relations services. Technology PR firms help med-tech companies develop solutions to promote medical innovations to the right audiences. Since the average patient tends to be skeptical about new developments, PR services make it easier for healthcare companies to introduce their innovations in the right way and at the right time.
2. Virtual concierge
A virtual concierge can conduct many tasks that a human normally would, such as answering phone calls, responding to emails, scheduling appointments, and more. It uses various technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to function just like an actual human would. Some virtual concierge systems are advanced enough to screen for COVID-19 symptoms, which helps reduce transmission in healthcare facilities significantly.
This type of technology improves the patient experience, reduces the complexity of operations, maximizes healthcare personnel’s productivity, and offers flexibility. Moreover, it also helps reduce operating expenses by taking over the tasks of human personnel and allowing them to focus on more important activities that a machine cannot do.
3. Mobile apps
Mobile applications are a relatively new technology in the healthcare industry, but it is already showing promise. Mobile apps allow patients to upload and see their healthcare records, schedule appointments, and find answers to their questions without speaking to a human. With these kinds of apps, patients can be more autonomous when it comes to healthcare and won’t have to wait too long to find the information they need, thereby improving the patient experience.
There are also mobile applications that healthcare providers use for training, education, decision-making, scheduling, and data management, among many other critical functions. They make it easier for professionals to access the information that they need on the go, update patient records, and communicate with other healthcare staff in the most efficient way possible.
Mobile apps are also highly useful for the outpatient experience. Some apps are designed to remind patients to take medication, attend appointments, record their symptoms, and find remote medical assistance when necessary.
Telehealth is nothing new, but its use has been more common ever since the pandemic limited face-to-face interactions—especially in healthcare facilities. Patients with non-urgent concerns can contact their physicians remotely using video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype. Digital clinics have already been popping left and right to serve patients who do not want to risk or cannot go to hospitals in person.
Some of the best benefits that telehealth provides include:
- Fewer non-urgent cases in emergency rooms
- Lower travel and medical expenses for patients
- Less overhead for hospitals and clinics
- Better accessibility, especially for patients in remote areas
- Safer access to health care, especially for at-risk groups
- Fewer instances of rescheduling, cancellations, and no-shows
- Less hospital anxiety, especially for children
- Better HIPAA compliance
- Maximization of healthcare staff
Even as the risk of COVID-19 transmission continues to subside in many parts of the globe, telehealth is here to stay with the improved access that it provides to both patients and providers—not to mention the better savings for both parties.
5. Virtual reality
Virtual reality is a relatively new technology in health care, but its applications already amount to dozens. VR is a revolutionary tool for medical training, allowing healthcare professionals to practice without putting patients’ lives at risk. It can also be used for teaching autistic children communication and social skills in a relatively controlled space.
With the number of applications that it has (and the amount of potential that developers are yet to unlock), VR can now be found across numerous healthcare settings, such as hospitals, emergency rooms, rehabilitation centers, urgent care clinics, telemedicine, surgery centers, and more.
These are just some of the emerging technology trends in health care in 2021, but they are, by far, some of the most impactful in the industry. With how fast healthcare technologies develop—and as the need for better solutions continues to rise—we can only expect even more innovations to pop up in the near future.