This past year saw many healthcare industry changes, often created out of necessity as we struggled to deal with a global pandemic. As we move into 2021, some of these trends will continue for the short term, while others will likely become part of the “new normal.” What technology trends should we be watching for in healthcare 2021? Here are a few of the biggest.
For at least the last decade or so, much of healthcare technology has been moving toward a greater focus on patients rather than providers. Personalized healthcare technology is a booming industry, and we’re only beginning to see its promise. We expect this trend to continue into 2021 and beyond.
As hospitals and other practices began to be overwhelmed by Covid patients in 2020, many providers introduced or ramped up remote care options to curb the virus’s spread. Look for digital care technologies to continue to grow in popularity. Wearable technology will help doctors monitor patient health markers from afar. Telehealth solutions will give greater access to homebound patients or those who live in isolated areas.
Cleaning and disinfection technologies
Cleaning and disinfection protocols were a 2020 focus everywhere from the grocery store to the doctor’s office. We sprayed, scrubbed, washed, and cleaned far more frequently than in the past. And in hospitals and other large facilities, this included implementing new technologies to get the job done on a massive scale.
Look for more high-speed cleaning and disinfection machines to become commonplace in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. UV light disinfection and high-tech air filtering are also making a major push into the marketplace. An additional growing trend is screening technology to identify contagious patients before they even enter the building.
Increased focus on communication
Healthcare facilities face unique challenges when it comes to communication. Administrators must efficiently communicate with office staff and frontline workers alike, across multiple specialties, various devices, and sometimes even far-flung locations.
“Healthcare is always complicated, and our system is no exception […] it’s been intense in the last year, but also very critically important. We have felt the impact of the work that we do and have seen it both in the stories we tell internally and externally.”— Paul Baltes, Director of Communications at Nebraska Medicine
While front-end technologies like cleaning, screening, and remote access options are front and center in the public eye, there’s a quiet revolution in communication happening behind the scenes. Healthcare providers and facility administrators are adopting new technologies for internal messaging. This type of technology can help increase healthcare employee engagement and make it easier to disseminate critical information, even in a crisis. If your facility hasn’t upgraded the technology used for internal communications, it’s time to look into a new solution.
In recent years, we’ve seen increasing attacks on large business networks, including within the healthcare industry. As facilities raced to upgrade their systems to handle the load presented by the challenges of a global pandemic, cybersecurity upgrades may not have been able to keep up. This presented hackers with attractive targets for attacks.
Look for upgrades to cybersecurity systems across the board in 2021, but especially within the healthcare space. Security solutions for cloud-based data storage, VPN exploits, and network access management are all top of mind for healthcare IT professionals.
Virtual reality and AI-powered healthcare
Virtual reality was once the realm of video games, and AI belonged to futuristic science fiction. Not so in 2021. These technologies are becoming an increasingly valuable part of our everyday lives and proving their worth within almost every industry.
Augmented and virtual reality solutions are now being used in training and classroom settings to help students learn challenging skills safely. These technologies are also being used in senior care facilities to help with memory retention and various mental therapies. They’ve even proven useful in pain management as a potent and compelling distraction technique.
Meanwhile, AI and machine learning are taking some of the load that was traditionally allocated to overworked clinical staff. Chatbots used to check symptoms and answer simple questions can alleviate bottlenecks in triage systems. AI programs are double-checking physician conclusions and providing likely alternate diagnoses. There are even algorithms in development to help detect and diagnose cancer and heart disease. 2021 is already proving to be an exciting year for new healthcare technologies and advances in the tech we’ve already come to trust. Don’t be left behind as technology marches on. If your healthcare facility is looking for a communications platform to make internal messaging more effective and efficient, contact Firstup for a demo today.