Technology has had a significant impact on the healthcare industry, revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered and accessed. Here are some of the ways technology has impacted the healthcare industry:
Electronic Health Records (EHRs): EHRs have replaced paper-based records, making it easier for healthcare providers to access patient information and share it with other providers. This has resulted in more coordinated care, improved patient safety, and reduced medical errors.
Telemedicine: Telemedicine allows patients to consult with healthcare providers remotely, using videoconferencing and other communication technologies. This has improved access to care, especially for patients in remote or rural areas.
Wearable Technology: Wearable technology such as fitness trackers and smartwatches allow patients to monitor their health and share data with their healthcare providers. This has improved patient engagement and enabled healthcare providers to provide personalized care.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML have enabled healthcare providers to analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns and make better diagnoses. They have also been used to develop predictive models for disease management and improve treatment outcomes.
Robotics: Robotics has been used in surgery to improve precision and reduce the risk of complications. They have also been used in rehabilitation to help patients recover from injuries or disabilities.
Mobile Applications: Mobile applications have been developed to provide patients with access to health information, track their medication, and monitor their progress. They have also been used to provide support for mental health and chronic disease management.
In conclusion, technology has had a transformative impact on the healthcare industry, improving access to care, patient outcomes, and provider efficiency. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more innovative solutions to emerge in the healthcare space.
What is the biggest healthcare innovation in the last 10 years - why?
Mixed reality: AR & VR
I believe that medical education is the bedrock of all healthcare innovations. And the improvements in AR and VR in the last decade have enabled these technologies to be used to train medical personnel and guide them during life-saving surgeries. Mixed reality allows users to interact with the outside world while simultaneously projecting digital information into it. AR allows users to experience the real world while projecting digital information onto the environment and surroundings. Thus, VR can be effectively used in psychiatry to treat phobias, and mixed reality has the potential to bring revolutionary novelties to a variety of fields, including pre-operative surgical planning and medical education. Surgeons can use AR to project potentially life-saving information into their eyesight during operations.
There are now startups that let a full-size human body be projected in its full size in front of med students. Thus, the organs, veins or bones will be visible accurately in 3D, and future medical professionals will be able to analyze their shape and remember their characteristics more vividly than it is possible when studying from a book.
This would help medical students come up with innovative ways to perform surgeries, understand the human body and plan the surgeries better. This would also help the patients take more informed decisions regarding their surgeries. Through these technologies, they would exactly understand and take informed decisions.
Students would also get more simulations and better opportunities to learn. For example, students can simulate a scenario in which they must accurately diagnose the problems of a patient who has breathing problems.
The telemedicine and consulting experience would be much better and AR would play a pivotal role in post-surgery aftercare for patients at a reasonable price. This technology also has the potential for increased healthcare access for underserved populations.
Potentially, for example, in remote areas where medical personnel are not available and the area is dominated by ‘jhola chaps’ or ‘doctors without a degree’, AR and current technology could be used to provide quality healthcare facilities. In combination with the new technological innovations in 3d medical printing, poly pills could be subscribed and could be made readily available to patients using IoT devices. But AR will form the bedrock of such consulting.
The most important part about this technology is that this technology and simulations would be highly scalable at low costs. Although technology setup might be expensive, it will be a one-time investment. The platform will thence be ready and the software development would be relatively cheaper as software could be licensed on a periodic basis.
Apart from core medical fields, VR and AR could be used for workouts in a gamified way which would further lead to overall health benefits for the population. This is a true disruption that will train the future generation of doctors.
The global Virtual Reality (VR) in healthcare market is projected to grow from $628.0 million in 2022 to $6.20 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 38.7%.
Covid impact: The COVID-19 Crisis has Increased the Possibility of using Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Sector The need for virtual reality technologies in the healthcare industry grew during the pandemic. Medical professionals were able to better understand and research the effects of the new strain because to the usage of virtual reality in healthcare. The device helped doctors by giving them real-time radiological insights into how the disease affected patients' bodies. Most COVID-19 healed patients suffer from Post-Intensive Care Syndrome. Virtual rehab sessions employing virtual reality technologies help patients rehabilitate in such circumstances, similar to how demand for interactive and online learning sessions has skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic. During practical sessions, for example, medical students faced challenges because there was no technology available to give face-to-face or clinical situations such as teaching.
This would promote the use of virtual reality (VR) in training and education programs for the healthcare industry. Medical students profited most from virtual reality simulation-based training during the pandemic. As a result, the coronavirus's appearance hastened the growth of Virtual Reality (VR) in the healthcare industry. However, the first market expansion was hampered by the supply chain and manufacturing limitations.
Digital Therapeutics - Fad or Real?
Digital Therapeutics (“DTx”) are defined by the Digital Therapeutics Alliance as products that “deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease.” By leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), m-health applications, and gamified platforms, these evidence-based digital intervention programs provide remote, on-demand access to personalized therapies for a range of medical conditions. In simple terms, consider them to be the softwares that treat diseases. Their treatment can be considered as supplementary to the primary treatment. The following table explains how DTx improves the treatments:
The industry saw heavy investments during Covid especially in the mental health space. With the shortages in health staff, limited resources and behavioural change to avoid in-person clinical visits during Covid, the adoption of virtual and home care technologies accelerated, boosting the digital therapeutics industry.
The problem begins when a new innovation is proposed to address each and every problem prevalent in the industry. Every disruptive technology goes through that phase. This is especially true when the industry disrupts the way the actual outcome is influenced as is evident by the graph below:
Therefore, digital therapeutics would not improve everything but can cause disruption in many domains of the healthcare industry. Based on the information above, we can conclude that digital therapeutics is there to stay. This means that it is not just a ‘fad’ but there to stay. This is because there are real value propositions which is solving an unsolved need for the customers. This industry is also getting FDA approvals and is on brink of getting regulated in the West. This would give legitimacy to the industry. Based on my understanding, I believe that digital therapeutics would play a pivotal role in the mental health industry and fitness industries. There is already a lot of interest in workouts and exercises using VR technologies. This is more entertaining than gyming because of gamification. But treating behaviours using therapeutics and other IOT devices might take a long time and might just be fad. Treating gastrointestinal disorders using digital therapeutics does seem like a fad for the foreseeable future.
Many proponents of the technology give the argument: “Digital therapeutics will not replace drugs; however, when digital therapy is combined with pharmacotherapy, it improves patient engagement and medication adherence, induces behavioural changes, provides tailored dosages, and educates and guides patients on side effects and self-managing techniques.” But the issue with the same is information is commoditized and is accessible using internet. The patient can just do simple Google search to understand side effects and the self-managing techniques have not been successful without human intervention. For that, let us take the example of cure-fit, only the personalized programs with human intervention seem to be doing well. This can be attributed to lack of gamification which makes human intervention imperative. But it does not mean that gamification would solve all the issues without doing the value addition. Without user adoption, behavioural change for long-term disease cannot happen. But as our lives become more digitized, the adoption of digital therapeutics is bound to follow.
The global digital therapeutics market size was valued at USD 3.23 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 17.34 billion by 2030 and is poised to garner growth at a CAGR of 20.5% over forecast period 2022 to 2030. Increasing smartphone penetration in developed & developing countries, the cost-effectiveness of digital health technology for providers & patients, and increasing demand for integrated healthcare systems & patient-centric care are expected to drive the market. According to Kepios, in April 2021, there were 4.27 billion internet users globally, which is over 60% of the global population. As this number increases, the awareness about smart health tracking is expected to improve. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic, supportive regulatory initiatives & early signs of reimbursement, and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases are also anticipated to fuel the market growth.
Short term: In the short term, workouts and mental illness could be targeted using digital therapeutics.
Long term: In the long term, as people engage with IoT devices and have a more digital presence, the adoption for supplementary digital therapeutics treatments would increase.
Therefore, in conclusion, the concept cannot be said to be a fad but will grow gradually over the years changing the healthcare as we know it.
By Siddharth Dalmia
The Startup Sherpa
 https://intlbm.com/2022/04/06/digital-therapeutics-changing-the-future-of-care/#:~:text=The%20future%20of%20healthcare%20will,rather%20than%20reacting%20to%20symptoms.  precedenceresearch.com/digital-therapeutics-market  Grand view research: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/digital-therapeutics-market  https://dtxalliance.org/