Digital conferences have always been incubators for startups and new technologies. As an industry that has only scratched the surface when it comes to technology developments and integration, many companies are now turning their attention to healthcare, looking to bridge the gap between patients and the enormous amount of data that patients generate as consumers. At SXSW, an event held in Austin, Texas every year that fosters digital creativity and cutting-edge technologies, this was evident in the more than 40 sessions dedicated to health and tech, as well as the first-ever SX Health and MedTech Expo. This Expo itself featured over 60 exhibitors exclusively focused on healthcare technology – an indication that this is where our industry will likely see significant innovation over the next few years.
Within the world of digital – and more specifically, digital healthcare – there have been certain buzzwords over the past few years that have become a mainstay in any trend report or recap. One of the most popular has been wearables. According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 80% of consumers believe a benefit of wearable technology is its potential ability to seamlessly track personal health information. This year, though, there has been a perceptible shift in the conversation, with wearables still present but being discussed as part of a larger trend of the “connected patient” and potential impact that will have in the coming years on the treatment landscape.
Part of that landscape also includes biometrics – the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. There has been a movement beyond wearables to a world where products like Biyo, a virtual wallet that connects payments to a scan of the veins in someone’s palm, and Nymi, which uses cardiac signature to verify items like passwords, are becoming a potential reality. The industry is also now exploring the implications of using personal biometric data as conduits for not only commerce but treatment options. Apps like Apple’s HealthKit use biometric sensors to capture information from individuals and aggregate using Cloud technology. Some believe that biometric data collected from such devices could potentially be the key to not only understanding but to eventually helping to treat health issues, including chronic conditions and epidemics.
Real-time data has now given way to the next generation of analytic tools that focus on predictive modeling, so consumer behavior may be forecasted before any action takes place. According to Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine researcher in his book, “The Patient Will See You Now,” as the use of predictive analytics continues to rise, this trend may change the dynamic of doctor visits, adding a virtual component to supplement in-person visits. Taking advantage of the boom of healthcare data suddenly available, teams today across the healthcare industry are working to build models that are designed to improve not only the patient journey but how physicians make diagnosis and treatment decisions for those patients.
We’re excited about the future of our industry and the strides that we’re collectively making to improve the lives of patients every day. What are the healthcare tech trends that stand out to you this year? Let us know in the comments below.