Can tech solve the healthcare challenges of 2025?

Technology-driven world that we find ourselves in has provided us with a great opportunity to incorporate technological tools into the delivery of healthcare


A file photo of remote cardiac ultrasound being performed by a cardiologist in France. Photo: AFP
A file photo of remote cardiac ultrasound being performed by a cardiologist in France. Photo: AFP

By 2025, the healthcare industry will face numerous challenges including an ageing population, government policy that will need to keep pace with this population, and making healthcare services and infrastructure more accessible to the masses. The technology-driven world that we find ourselves in has provided us with a great opportunity to incorporate technological tools into the delivery of healthcare. Specifically, Big Data, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) can support and facilitate the flow of information for effective care coordination and greater patient and citizen empowerment, according to the Healthcare in 2025 report by videoconferencing, telepresence and communications firm Polycom Inc.

Big Data has immense potential in healthcare, especially when it comes to the consolidation of data to allow for more efficient and effective decision-making. Data collection and utilization through cloud systems will allow better sample sizes for prescription models, access to patient information no matter the location where they seek treatment and better allocation of limited resources.

By 2020, IoT—which is “a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction”—will likely have 25 billion connected “things”, which includes more than 250 million connected vehicles, according to research firm Gartner.

An Accenture report stated that IoT could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy over the next 15 years. Many believe healthcare will be a prime beneficiary—wearable technology is often cited as one of the tools to support prevention and wellness in IoT, according to the Polycom report.

Mobile 3G and 4G connectivity has truly revolutionized personal connectivity. When mobile integrates with healthcare delivery, the problem of accessibility reduces significantly. Virtual consultations or having surgeons in urban areas assist those in rural areas with surgeries virtually would become more feasible options; touchsurgery.com is one such example, according to the report.

The potential is evident. However, the success of mobile will also depend on how governments shape healthcare policy and distribute funding, revamping the current incentive framework in many of the regions and core markets, and hiring technological experts as employees in healthcare organizations, the report notes.

As collaboration between multiple parties for the future healthcare business model is a critical requirement, having a scalable network and a robust unified communications environment is necessary. The ability to integrate voice, video, content, specific healthcare applications and medical devices to support better and more efficient collaboration among clinicians, healthcare educators, administrators, patients and families will result in better patient outcomes and reduced costs, as long as it’s simple to use and a familiar, consistent experience. The right technology environment should support multiple applications for economies of scale like care team collaboration and administration, medical education as well as telemedicine.

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