There’s no denying that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic rapidly shifted nearly every aspect of healthcare in 2021. With massive disruption and adaptation across the board, technology in healthcare has proven crucial to keeping the healthcare industry resilient in the face of never-ending challenges.
From massive amounts of newly available data, hospitals operating at near-capacity, and huge disparities in care provided, technology is being leveraged in new ways to meet these challenges as they arise. And as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, stakeholders are eager to anticipate new challenges and take advantage of new possibilities due to the increasing reliance on tech in healthcare.
So, what does this mean for 2022? To shed light on what’s to come about healthcare’s “new normal” for delivering quality care for all, we’ll take a look at six technology predictions offered by a wide range of experts and surveys for 2022.
1) Data: The New Healthcare Currency
Due to the nation’s priority for better healthcare infrastructure, data is the new currency in healthcare. What’s making it possible? The intersection of AI (artificial intelligence) and real-world data.
With more available information and the efficiency of AI, researchers have more precision at their fingertips to create more effective treatments, improve outcomes, and improve productivity—all of which means greater profits.
Greater accuracy means greater collaboration from stakeholders, as well. For example, healthcare systems are now directly collaborating with patients and pharmaceutical companies to streamline better treatments as variants emerge, launch them into the marketplace faster, and ultimately address the evolving expectations of healthcare in 2022.
2) Expect double the amount of mergers and acquisitions for 2022
Also detailed in the aforementioned Deloitte report is 2022 being ripe for mergers and acquisitions for highly-profitable digital healthcare companies. With record profits and stock valuations for new digital health companies and commercial payers, Healthcare Information Technology (HCIT) companies are attractive targets for growth due to market disruption in the healthcare industry.
Despite efforts by the Federal Trade Commission to clamp down on potential monopolies and conflicts of interest in the healthcare space, healthcare in 2022 will see a growing number of companies in the $20 million to $50 million range swallowed up by established healthcare companies.
3) The rise of telemedicine in the healthcare landscape
Telemedicine is the new normal in 2022. With the adoption of virtual care models and telehealth methodologies, experts say that these advancements in telehealth are here to stay.
According to Vikram Savkar, VP & General Manager, Medicine Segment of Health Learning, Research & Practice at Wolters Kluwer, working through the limitations of social distancing and stay-at-home orders has highlighted how telemedicine increased the efficiency of healthcare workflows when compared to pre-Covid methodologies.
Savkar notes the myriad benefits that healthcare providers are realizing through telemedicine, especially for specialties like urgent care and mental health to access those most in need. “Ultimately, I believe that the rise of telehealth will drive more dialogue around modes of access as an issue, not only of tech but also of equity, in the years to come.”
Savkar predicts that healthcare providers will be eager to formalize new methods of training to develop newly acquired telehealth best practices for all healthcare personnel.
4) Researchers are building health equity through unstructured health data
Creating more awareness of equity across racial and ethnic lines will be realized by unstructured data in the year ahead.
Due to many states in the U.S. not reporting Covid-19 mortality by race and ethnicity, the pandemic has shined a light on how data can be organized to create a more accurate and comprehensive picture to provide care for those who need it most.
Karen Kobelski, VP and General Manager of Clinical Surveillance Compliance & Data Solutions, believes that a massive overhaul of 80% of unstructured healthcare data can be utilized for more equitable outcomes. “2022 will be a pivotal year for making healthcare data help and not hinder the bigger goal of delivering the best care everywhere,” says Kobelski.
Kobelski believes that machine learning algorithms, geared toward text mining and natural language processing, will be primary drivers to derive quality and actionable insights from textual data. By compiling data that is often difficult to centralize and interpret, machine learning will shed new light on equity and reveal larger insights into the disparity of care in healthcare in 2022.
5) New industry entrants are disrupting healthcare
Just as the pandemic disrupted our modern world, so have new entrants in healthcare upended how providers are delivering a more customer-focused experience of healthcare.
According to a recent report from Deloitte UK’s Centre for Health Solutions, new entrants from other industries, such as supermarket chains and technology giants, are entering the “wild west” nature of today’s healthcare ecosystem. This has led to a blurring of the lines between traditional providers and new entrants.
The result? A greater collaboration to stoke competition and utilization of such tools as branding, customer demographics, and engineering expertise not normally associated with healthcare.
6) Patient engagement and personalization will remain a priority
Despite the reliance on technology for non-human tasks, hands-on care remains a key element of excellent care.
According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed felt that an in-person physical examination remained an inextricable part of comprehending healthcare needs. Ultimately, patients feel that physicians who are in the same room are what makes or breaks their long-term success.
While convenience and efficiency are the main benefits of telemedicine (as well as enhanced imaging and diagnosis), personalization simply can’t be replicated without the care and attention that a physician can provide in person. Echoing this trend, physicians are finding a delicate balance in 2022 between streamlining their practice while also delivering quality care beyond webcams and Zoom appointments.
As you can see, 2022 will be a pivotal year for the intersection of new technologies and their implementation in healthcare. Those that can anticipate these developments—and those to come—will realize new profits, remain resilient in an increasingly-competitive space, and attain greater standards of care to benefit what matters most: patient care.