The top 7 digital healthcare trends in 2019

As the latest digital trends continue to shape healthcare, organizations should keep a few key considerations in mind

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

For healthcare organizations big and small, the start of a new year marks another step toward more innovative patient and provider experiences. The Internet of Medical Things, large-scale data initiatives, telemedicine and more — organizations are setting their sights on technologies that will spark widespread change.

Here are the seven digital trends shaping healthcare in the coming year, and the considerations to keep in mind as healthcare moves further into the digital age.

1. IoMT applications and devices

Patient wearables, automated kiosks, virtual assistants, and more. The IoMT trend is in full swing, but effectively implementing it in 2019 means having a much deeper understanding of organizational and patient needs. Frost & Sullivan predicts the number of IoMT devices to be 20-30 billion by 2020, which means healthcare organizations will have greater accessibility, but also a greater number of choices to make. A few questions to keep in mind: What are the specific needs of your organization? Your patients? What combination of IoMT devices will have the biggest impact? What technology partners can help implement these technologies most efficiently?

2. Data initiatives

Despite the widespread desire for data utilization, we’re only just starting to understand what collecting it really looks like. According to new industry research from HIMMS Media and AT&T, 43% of hospitals are engaging in big data initiatives this year, and with that comes a handful of challenges to consider. The biggest? Data quality. Most data collections require a thorough cleaning and sorting in order to be referenced and shared out, which in turn requires additional processes to be put into place. Other watch-outs include physician burnout from manual data entry, and a lack of privacy systems for collected data.

3. Artificial intelligence

Stanford Medicine projects the artificial intelligence health market will reach $6.6 billion by 2021 — a compound annual growth rate of 40%. It’s a growth rate many industries are familiar with, and it’s been a cause of both concern and apprehension across the board. One crucial thing to remember when considering artificial intelligence for your organization — studies show the health care industry itself is the fourth lowest in terms of job automation potential. Human-centered healthcare jobs are not at risk, because at the end of the day, patients still crave human-to-human interaction when it comes to their care. According to Stanford Medicine, one of the biggest benefits of AI is the potential for healthcare organizations to analyze mass amounts of data.

4. Telemedicine

Getting on top of the telemedicine trend this year hinges on understanding the “why” over the “what.” With Millennials outnumbering Baby Boomers by 7.7 million, F. Randy Vogenberg, PhD, Rph and John Santilli, MBO foresee telehealth becoming a mainstream health option largely in part thanks to the influx of younger patients looking for more digitally-savvy care. Demand for tech-facilitated options, decreased costs, convenience, and personalization is driving both innovation and adoption.

5. Augmented and virtual reality

Imagine a world where a distressed patient is instantly transported to a sunny beach, or a world where a medical student is trained for a complex surgery using augmented reality. The healthcare market is on the cusp of adopting practices just like these, but many of the technologies needed to implement them are still emerging. So, if 2019 isn’t your year for investing in AR/VR, don’t feel left behind. IndustryARC says it could take 4 years before we start seeing mass usage. As far as 2019 is concerned, AR/VR will continue to develop, making its adoption more accessible in the future

 6. Cybersecurity

The first three quarters of 2018 gave us 369 publicly disclosed data breaches which affected over 8.5 million patient records, as cited by Protenus Breach Barometer. Thus, 2019 might just prove to be the year of increased cybersecurity measures. And while healthcare breach costs are among the highest across industries, choosing the right managed security solution provider (MSSP) to help defend against them is crucial to maintaining patient trust. Without patient trust, very little can be achieved.

To assess how your cybersecurity efforts are measuring up this year, utilize our free online risk assessment here.

7. The Power of 5G

All trends considered, 5G remains the most transformative as it will enable the successful implementation of technologies like telemedicine, AR/VR, IoMT, and more. For integrated health care networks like Rush Health, 5G means better hospital operations, as well as improved patient and staff experiences. But adopting such a large-scale technology comes with its own set of challenges. That’s why it’s essential to involve both medical and tech experts when considering 5G for your organization, to ensure the patient experience remains at the forefront.

To learn more about the ways digital trends are shaping healthcare, click here.