Healthcare is one service that nearly all of us will purchase at one point or another. Americans spend over 3 trillion dollars each year on healthcare, and medical spending is expected to account for 20 percent of US GDP by 2025.
Given that the average American spends nearly $10,000 each year on healthcare, innovation in the medical industry has the potential to affect each of us in profound ways. The next time you visit the hospital, it may be a new, cutting-edge technology that saves your life.
No technologies have greater potential to transform the world of healthcare than AI, blockchain, and big data.
Here are some of the ways in which each of these technologies is already making waves in the medical industry.
Analysis from the consulting giant Accenture predicts that, "key clinical health AI applications can potentially create $150 billion in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026." One of the major cost-saving opportunities for AI lies in preventing health insurance fraud, which costs Americans as much as $230 billion dollars annually. That's a full ten percent of all national healthcare spending. Fraud detection programs powered by artificial intelligence could drastically reduce this burden.
AI also has the potential to elevate medical research by identifying relevant data and information that lies out of reach for traditional search engines and databases. Gunjan Bhardwaj, CEO and Founder of Innoplexus, said, "There is a wealth of medical, research, and patient data that is often unreachable for researchers, or it's spread across hundreds of sources." AI and machine learning technologies can democratize the field by reducing the time, effort, and cost of medical research.
A recent analysis by Deloitte concluded that "blockchain technology has the potential to transform health care, placing the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data." In particular, blockchain technology may be the key to super-charging one of the most important medical trends of the last decade: medical record sharing.
Systems that allow the sharing of digital medical records between various providers have dramatically improved the continuity, efficiency, and outcomes of patient care. However, given the personal nature of medical records, security is always a concern. Blockchain technology promises to offer both the security necessary to ease privacy concerns and the efficiency necessary to improve patient care. As a recent post on IBM's blockchain blog put it, "better data sharing between healthcare providers means a higher probability of accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments, and the overall increased ability of healthcare organizations to deliver cost-effective care."
The security offered by blockchain technology may also benefit drug research, as people may be more willing to participate in clinical trials if they are confident that their private information will remain secure.
By reducing the cost and improving the efficacy of medical research and care, these technologies will democratize access to high-quality medical treatment. They will also lower the barriers to entry for new companies hungry to bring innovative solutions to the medical field. Entrepreneurs, physicians, and patients alike will enjoy the benefits.
Big Data Analytics
Big Data has already taken other sectors to new heights of innovation and productivity. Business, finance, and even politics have been transformed by the seemingly endless analytical insights offered by big data. There are good reasons that healthcare should be next.
Drug development is one area in which data analytics can make a big difference. The democratization of medical data opens the doors for start-up pharmaceutical and research labs to disrupt the drug development industry. Bhardwaj explained, "Our goal is to democratize that data, by leveraging the latest in A.I. and machine learning technologies to give professionals across the life sciences access to information that will help them achieve their goals faster and at a lower cost." Data is a valuable resource that has the potential to drive innovation in this important field.
Big data can also enable healthcare providers to predict patient needs more accurately and efficiently. Data and analytical tools allow physicians to identify risk factors and to approach patient care from a predictive perspective rather than a reactive one. Doctors can more effectively diagnose conditions, prioritize care and resources, and improve patient outcomes.