The current global pandemic has accelerated digital expansion in the healthcare industry, particularly patient technology adoption and innovation. Omri Shor, CEO of digital therapeutics company Medisafe, claims that these advancements will remain front-and-center for healthcare in 2021.
According to him, expect to see areas of telemedicine and digital health monitoring to expand in new and novel ways, with increased uses in remote monitoring and behavioral health. CMS has even approved telehealth for a number of new specialties and digital health tools continue to gain adoption among healthcare companies, drug makers, providers, and patients.
This is quite a fascinating idea, considering how technology has flexed its muscles over the years, providing unprecedented convenience to everyone. What’s even more amazing is that these groundbreaking modernizations are still constantly progressing year after year after year.
With that, we’ve interviewed our peers in the industry to know more about what they think lies ahead in digital healthcare. Here are their answers:
Estelle Russo, founder of Paleo Safe shares:
One of the most common things I expect in the upcoming year is a focus on digital and remote healthcare. For many of my clients, there’s no need for us to meet face to face every week. Instead, I plan to continue meeting using video chat software. This allows us to communicate and talk workouts and diet, without the risk of transmitting the virus to each other or other people in the gym or my office.
For the past few months, I’ve been doing basic meetings and appointments using tools like Zoom. Until the vaccine is delivered and administered, I plan to continue this trend and even start to do full weightlifting workouts with some of my long-term clients that don’t need help with their form.
Jason Reed, founder of Best RX for Savings says:
Digital health is here to stay, and COVID-19 has accelerated that adoption. One example is people who would’ve avoided things such as telemedicine visits will either adopt it or be forced to use it by providers.
In addition to obvious examples like telemedicine, more remote monitoring of patients’ day-to-day health will expand. Apple’s Health app and Google’s acquisition of FitBit will lead to many intuitive ways for patients to be monitored remotely.
In 2021, expect to see more electronic medical records integrating this data for doctors to use during appointments. Eliminating the need for patients to upload their data and having this happen more automatically from the cloud will be key to winning market share.
Lastly, another trend will be more medications will have a digital component that may be ingested to allow feedback of the doses being taken or how it interacted in the patients’ system.
Simon Griffin, chairman and founder of Lifelines Neuro explains:
In my opinion, one of the next big digital health trends in 2021 will be EEG integrated into the more generalized telehealth platforms. This’ll start to happen as artificial intelligence algorithms that are in development in many academic centers gain traction and aid in the interpretation of the EEG signal..
The pandemic has clearly enforced the need for options outside of a hospital setting. Patients with Epilepsy or a possible diagnosis of Epilepsy are in general a very vulnerable patient population. Many have rare genetic conditions, particularly in the pediatric population. Parents and caregivers, on the other hand, are very reluctant to expose them to risk, and so being able to access services in a home setting is very important.
Interestingly, CMS (Medicare) and the AMA through the CPT code system recognized the need for remotely monitored long duration video EEG studies and created a new code set for these procedures which was introduced on January 1st, 2020, so prior to the pandemic. These procedures are now conducted in a patient’s home, and remotely monitored and controlled in most regions of the USA.
Peter Bailey, MD, family practice physician and expert contributor on Test Prep Insight expounds:
I think one of the biggest digital health trends of 2021 will be the continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine. Healthcare organizations are increasingly implementing AI-driven tools in their operations, and this’ll only continue to skyrocket as we move into next year.
The beauty of AI is that it can be utilized in a number of medical scenarios. This can be everything from chatbots in a customer support function, to helping diagnosis cancer and make recommendations regarding combo therapies. That last one is not theoretical.
AI-based software is being used to scan millions of pathology images of different cancers to help make diagnoses and suggestions regarding anti-cancer drugs and immunotherapies. It’s wild how far this tech has come.
In hindsight, the potential of AI in medicine and healthcare is limitless. By 2025, it’s expected that the field of healthcare-AI will exceed $34 billion. This doesn’t surprise me at all given all the benefits of AI. The operations, deliverables, and data we get from AI are generally more accurate and cost-effective than the work we get from humans.
Obviously, AI can’t do everything, but this technology can provide serious assistive benefits, and I fully expect it to continue to rise in 2021.
In closing, Omri Shor of Medisafe emphasizes that digital health companions will continue to become an important tool to monitor patients, provide support, and track behaviors—while remaining socially distant due to the pandemic. Look for crossover between medical care, drug monitoring, and health and wellness.
Apple Watch has even previewed this potential with heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. Data output from devices will enable support to become more personalized and triggered by user behavior.