Tech, data sharing and telehealth all impacting the rise of digital health and new methods of patient care
Healthcare has seen its share of changes over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but one sector was impacted most — digital health. Technology became crucial to pivoting patient care from the usual hospital or doctor's office, to the home or other remote setting. The budding industry rapidly became more of a necessity, rather than a convenience.
Well into 2021, that acceleration could increase more this year, experts say. This Healthcare Dive article states global healthcare industry revenues are expected to exceed $2.6 trillion by 2025, up from $2 trillion last year, with the majority of that growth propelled by artificial intelligence (AI) and telehealth, according to consultancy Frost & Sullivan. This growth will likely impact both healthcare delivery and operations.
Here’s what experts see forthcoming in digital health:
- Healthcare will become more predictive vs reactive, with AI being a key factor of this change.
- Investment in AI has exploded, with the proliferation of innovative tools and cloud services to continually collect and analyze data. Senior health executives plan to spend almost $40 million over the next five years on AI-related projects, compared to an estimated $32.7 million in 2018.
- The widespread use of AI, however, could raise more questions about the validity of whether machines are making the best decisions in regards to patient care.
So who is responsible if AI makes a mistake?
Prior to the inauguration of President Biden, the outgoing administration created a new office to oversee AI research and policymaking, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an action plan to improve oversight of AI in healthcare. These measures could be seen as Washington is calling for increased regulation of the developing industry, but the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also proposed in January to permanently exempt a number of products using AI to diagnose illnesses on medical images from FDA review.
This complex issue will likely continue to get traction as predictive tools become more commonplace.
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