What to expect from digital healthcare in 2018?

There is no doubt: 2018 is a year to watch for digital healthcare, and keep an eye out for the second part of this feature due to be published next week.
By Leontina Postelnicu
11:29 am
Doctor at computer.

As strategists are accelerating transformation in the face of increasing demand, the pace of technological advancements and shifts in the public’s perception of digital health concepts, when speaking to experts in the field, it is clear that, in 2018, disruption in the field will finally start to come to ‘fruition’.

Senior analysts from American firm Forrester Research argue that it is ‘already underway’, but what should we keep an eye on here in the UK?

‘Greater use of analytics’ 

Data analytics will translate into real healthcare outcomes in 2018, experts say, supporting the increasing focus on population health and disease prevention. 

Richard Craven, Channel 3 Consulting Partner and Chief Operating Officer, says 2018 will see ‘greater use of platforms, analytics and wearables’ across health and care to identify patients that are at high risk of deterioration and help clinicians determine the most appropriate interventions while eliminating unwarranted variation.

“This approach to healthcare planning and delivery will impact the management of healthcare economies significantly,” Craven adds.

Artificial Intelligence: poised to go mainstream?

Jane Rendall, Managing Director of Sectra, expects the landscape of digital health and care to ‘traverse the chasm between the controlled sandbox where algorithm development happens and the clinical wilderness’: 

“New technology and cool algorithms are not enough. Developing algorithms that will be used in clinical care, need to be focused on those problems that are of importance to healthcare professionals, and support the management of patients within existing workflows. 

“Surrounding all this cool development there are shifting strategic and business models which are moving away from enterprise and looking towards regional collaborations where technology is a powerful enabler in a healthcare system under pressure to change,” Rendall adds. 

Paul Kruegel, Senior Communications Manager for Siemens Healthineers, agrees that some of the key areas expected to draw attention in 2018 in digital healthcare are related to AI, including job evolution or issues around the intellectual property of data.

The International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Health Industry 2018 Predictions reportsuggests that by 2021, 20% of healthcare and 40% of life science organisations adopting cognitive/AI technology will have achieved around 15 to 20% ‘productivity gains’.

Philipp Grätzel von Grätz, leading European eHealth journalist and Editorial Director of Insights, argues there is ‘no surprise’ AI will play a big part in shaping the transformation of healthcare systems during the coming months.

“We are confronted with reports and research on an increasing number of impressively accurate IT tools that interpret images or ECG data, that advise on when to consult a doctor or that suggest proper therapies.

“The year of 2018 will be when these tools start hitting real-world care on a broader scale. The FDA has just certified the first Apple Watch accessory as a medical device: an ECG-meter that replaces the normal Apple watch wristband and that can be used in combination with activity tracking in a machine-learning environment to detect atrial fibrillation.

“It won’t stop there,” he adds.

‘Increased focus on interoperability’

David Hancock, Client Engagement Director at InterSystems UK, says 2018 will see ‘continued’ improvements in the digital maturity of health and care providers, with an increased focus on interoperability to support ‘the move to Accountable Care Systems’. 

“None of this can be delivered without utilisation of more advanced interoperability that we see coming out of NHS Digital using HL7 FHIR.  

“The big trend I really hope to see is that this interoperability is truly clinically driven and only technically informed,” Hancock explains. 

Natalie Chishick, IMS Maxims Policy and Communications Director, agrees that the interoperability and data sharing agenda will take centre stage in 2018, with ‘more suppliers, healthcare bodies and networks’ joining the UK’s INTEROPen collaborative.
“Momentum will continue next year, but pledging support is not enough - 2018 must see the community, including IMS MAXIMS as a founding member, deliver on commitments to accelerate open standards,” she concludes.  


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