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Exposed: Four Important Health Tech Trends To Anticipate In 2021

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December 17, 2020
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2020: A Year We Want to Forget. But What Can We Learn from It?

Can Anything Good Come Out of 2020? Yes, We Believe So.

If nothing else, 2020 taught us to be grateful for each day and to appreciate everything around us; life, what we hold so precious, could be here now only to vanish the next minute. 2020, which will forever live in infamy, came with lots of challenges that threw most of us off balance. It started with the Australian wildfires, then flooding and explosions in different regions of the world, then murder hornets. Not to be outdone, COVID-19 has presented one of the toughest battles that humankind has encountered since World War II. In fact, here’s a quote from the UN Secretary General:

COVID-19 is the world’s biggest challenge after World War II

Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General)

The pandemic came in full force to attack societies at their core; while claiming lives, it cut us off from one another as well as many sources of joy and livelihood. In just 12 months, the pandemic has infected 75 million people, with over 1.61 million deaths and counting. It sent several nations and businesses bankrupt, leading to the loss of over 400 million jobs in the second half of 2020. Although efforts to quell the situation have resulted in the discovery of the Pfizer vaccine, the journey to normalcy remains a long and difficult one.

We have been forced to accommodate several adjustments to our daily lives. These inconveniences, however, inspired inventions and innovations that may improve our world in the near future and for years to come. In this article, we will discuss some of the most exciting discoveries you should look out for as we transition into 2021.

Four Ways Healthcare is Evolving

 

1. Telemedicine

Unsurprisingly, telemedicine received a facelift as the global lockdown was enforced. During those times, hospital visits were limited to only severe cases; as of April 2020, about 43% of Medicare primary care visits were conducted via telehealth.

When the necessity for social distancing became more apparent, people had no choice but to embrace the next alternative. Telemedicine filled that need, reducing contact between patients and healthcare workers, and thus doing its part to “flatten the curve.”

Along with improved telehealth methods, the use of wearable devices increased because they enabled healthcare professionals to gather real-time information about their patients even while they stayed at home. If you want, you can read our article on “how wearable devices can promote productivity.”

Telehealth is the use of two-way telecommunications technologies to provide clinical health care through a variety of remote methods.

CDC, 2020

Although the use of telemedicine has seen an enormous surge, many patients are not ready to embrace it. Well, it is not going away any time soon. From all indications, it may become the next big thing in the health sector as doctors try to keep hospitals as decongested as possible. Information from research shows that the telehealth market is likely to hit $185.6 billion by 2026 and that projection is an indication that it has come to stay.

 

Telehealth services are provided via apps and wearables that can easily connect the patient to caregivers. These wearables are fitted with sensors to monitor the patients in real-time and provide adequate information about health status. Additionally, the applications, which are only getting better, are often connected to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to improve access to quality patient information completely unrestricted by distance.

 

2. 3D Bioprinting

The use of 3D bioprinting to create living human cells or tissues for use in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering has been on the forefront as well. The technology can provide ready-to-use organs and body parts for transplant, and it already plays a critical role in manufacturing precision and personalized pharmaceuticals. It has also already been widely utilized in the development of medical devices, surgical instruments, orthopedic and dental implants, prosthetic limbs, and medical education models.

3D bioprinting has been integral during the COVID-19 crisis and enthusiasts believe this will continue when the pandemic is in our rearview mirror. It will surely reduce the number of people on the waiting list.

More than 100,000 Americans are awaiting a matching organ with over 2000 children on the organ waiting list.

Morris, 2018 

The 3D bioprinting market is expected to hit about $49.2 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 23.3%. It will be highly effective in studying terminal diseases like cancer and it may bring about a new era of medicine in which patients do not have to wait for too long before receiving a viable organ. Refer to our article “AI is Transforming the Future of Organ Transplant” for more information.

3. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

The Internet of Things (IoT, not to be confused with the later-mentioned IoMT) is expected to usher in a new generation of technology where things (usually devices and appliances) will be connected to share information over a similar network. These devices can interact with their users, the environment, and each other to monitor patients and track and prevent chronic illnesses. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will combine IoT with telemedicine technologies, and with that interaction, the sky is the limit for what is possible.

IoMT devices will be seen actively powering smart hospitals and homes to gather information about patient health like glucose level, skin temperature, blood pressure readings, heart rates, and much more.

It has been estimated that by 2025, the IoT industry will be worth $6.2 trillion with about 35 billion new devices to be installed around the world in 2021. In 2020 alone, about 30% of all IoT market share came from the healthcare sector. This figure is expected to increase in the next few years.

4. Nanomedicine

The implementation of nanoparticles in living organisms may grow a lot over the coming few years. While enhancing drug delivery throughout the body, these pieces of health technologies will help in laboratory research. There is also increased interest in the need for nanorobots (nanobots) in disease monitoring. These nanobots could be injected into the patient’s bloodstream and would be capable of gathering information about vital organs and health statuses.

Although the implementation of nanomedicine may be hindered by conspiracy theories, the market is expected to grow from the initial $111.912 million recorded in 2016 to about 213.063 million in 2023.

Conclusion

While 2020 may not have been the easiest year, it is one we may one day find ourselves grateful for. It has opened our eyes to many possibilities.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section. We would love to hear from you soon.

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    El Farolito

    June 25, 2021

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SOHAIL MERCHANT
Youngstown, Ohio

Medical Doctor (M.D.); Research Fellow at Lumen Foundation Artificial Intelligence Division

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