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5 Predictions: Why 2018 Will Be The Future of Healthcare

Healthcare has long been just on the cusp of massive change and futurists’ favorite subject for predictions. From data and analytics, to patient empowerment, the advancements from the past year may indicate the industry is finally about to reach its most pivotal moment yet.

Here are five predictions to watch out for in 2018:

 

1. NASA-like command centers will launch at hospitals

In the 1960s, airports started using new air traffic control technology that allowed them to transition from scheduling a few hundred flights a day to managing thousands, while becoming significantly safer and more efficient in the process.

2018 may be the year this type of thinking blasts into healthcare. A small but growing number of hospitals are implementing their own NASA-style command centers, designed to serve as a central mission control across a hospital’s functions and services. The goal: address the capacity, safety, quality and wait-time issues that have plagued healthcare.

Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Canada, for example, expects to improve its efficiency by 40 percent with the opening of the country’s first digital Command Center in collaboration with GE Healthcare Partners. In 2018, GE Healthcare Partners expects to sign approximately 20 more NASA-style command centers globally and that, by 2020, command centers will transition to a critical feature hospitals can’t survive without.

Now industry experts, including those surveyed in a recent report from Deloitte predicts, the wider adoption of NASA-like command centers as we head towards the hospital of the future and these institutions become all-digital. [Read More]

 

2. Patients will design even the most complex healthcare technology – at least by inspiration

Lying completely still in a small space for an hour underneath a heavy contraption while doctors look at your brain. Having a machine firmly compress your breasts between two hard, cold plates. These aren’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. MRI and mammography exams can help save lives, but patients often avoid them due to anxiety and fear of pain.

A number of advances in technology now point to a new wave of “patient-centric” technology, redesigned and rethought from the very start to reflect what matters most to the patient – even for some of the most difficult and sensitive exams, such as for the brain or breasts.

A new mammogram unveiled this year became the industry’s first system with a remote-control device that allows women to adjust their own compression during the exam under the guidance of a technologist – four out of five patients who received their mammogram found it improved the comfort of their exam [2].  In an MRI, patients traditionally have been required to lie still under a bulky, heavy contraption called an RF coil. Now the industry is abuzz over a completely redesigned coil called AIR Technology that turns this traditionally bulky covering into a blanket that is 60 percent lighter than the conventional.

Both technologies, and more like it, are expected to be installed in more clinics and hospitals across the world in 2018.

If the past several years have been about the “informed patient”, 2018 may be the year of the “involved patient”, of patients becoming part of the process even earlier on – all the way from a technology’s inception. [Read More]

 

3. “Precision Medicine” May Become Everyday “Medicine”

Personalized Medicine has been on the radar of healthcare futurists since well before institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made major investments in its future, but 2017 saw the first hints of the results.

The FDA made landmark approvals of several CAR-T gene therapies. A new cell therapy technology was unveiled to improve the imprecise practice of freezing a patient’s cells for transport – now it may help to get “living medicines” to patients undertowing such treatment around the world. In June, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies addressed a major challenge in the booming biologics industry by opening and building the UK’s first single-use biopharma facility in record time to increase their production capacity – meaning they may soon accelerate the availability of treatments for some of the toughest diseases –from diabetes to cancer to autoimmune diseases.

These are promising signs that in 2018, scientists, clinicians and patients can expect more practical applications and real-world results from cell therapy, biopharma and genomics, all of which will make personalized medicine more commonplace. Precision Medicine may just be what we today call “medicine.” [Read more]

 

 4. Healthcare will be the industry that propels more women into STEM leadership

Pew data indicates that women make up 13 percent  of employed engineers and that 18.6 percent of undergraduates enrolled in engineering programs were women. There is no shortage of efforts to advance women in leadership positions and to encourage more women to join STEM fields.

But in healthcare, where women make up 75 percent of those working in the field globally, change may be in the industry’s blood. Consider that it was an all-female team from five continents who designed a new mammogram for women by women – one that eased pain and anxiety, one these female engineers themselves would actually want to be scanned on. Or that training programs are cropping up specifically designed to enable a new generation of female X-ray, radiography, medical equipment, anesthesia, operation theatre and cardiac care technicians – such as the commitment between Tata Trusts and GE Healthcare to training 10,000 young people, 50 percent women, or the partnership with King Fahad Medical City,  in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that trained 35 female biomedical engineers from the public health sector and academia..

Many industries struggle with this challenge. In 2018, it seems likely that the healthcare industry continues to do more to tap into a unique ability and reason to solve it. [Read More]

 

 5. The technology behind self-driving cars will come to healthcare

… As well as the technology from video games, 3D printing and VR.

The tail-end of 2018 saw partnerships between less traditional partners such as Nvidia and GE Healthcare, to spread AI from self-driving cars, robotics and video analytics to the more sophisticated neural networks for healthcare and medical applications—from real-time medical condition assessment to point-of-care interventions to predictive analytics for clinical decision-making. Two engineers inspired by their favorite video game combined VR design tools and other gaming software with detailed 3D information from CT and MRI body scans to build a virtual experience complete with color, texture, light and other features. AW advanced visualization software that lets radiologists review images from scans, segment organs or regions of the body, and create 3D renderings to better understand the affected area are already 20 percent faster than previous.

“People see smart computers all around them – Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Tesla’s self-driving car – and they think healthcare should be the same,” said  Dr. Michael Blum, Associate Vice Chancellor for Informatics at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. “Obviously, healthcare is far more complex, requires much higher accuracy, and has less margin for error. Thanks to advances in computing power and data science, we have entered a new era of medicine – we now have a tremendous opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency of care, and prevention and prediction for an individual are finally going to be possible.”

While these technologies have often been talked about as hypothetical, 2018 may be the nexus point in which they become more ubiquitous across the industry. [Read More]