In the post-pandemic era, staying competitive and being a leader requires a strong understanding of emerging digital health trends. With this article, we'll help you get on the right track.
Backed by reports from industry leaders, including CBinsights, J.P. Morgan, Capgemini, and PwC, we present a comprehensive view of 13 vital healthcare technology trends that will shape the sector in the coming years.
These trends offer invaluable insights for healthcare leaders, business founders, and technology enthusiasts, showcasing technology's transformative potential in the year ahead. From AI-driven diagnostics to telemedicine's proliferation, each development strategically addresses the evolving demands of modern healthcare.
Join us as we explore the driving forces behind these trends, shedding light on the path forward for healthcare technology in 2023 and beyond.
What's the difference between healthtech, medtech, and digital health?
Before we move to the meat of the article, let's discuss the difference between healthtech, medtech, and digital health for a better, more in-depth understanding of the topic and its nuances.
What is healthtech?
Healthtech is a broad term for any technology used to improve health outcomes.
What is medtech?
Medtech is a subset of healthtech that refers to medical devices used to diagnose, treat, or manage diseases. This includes, for example, pacemakers, insulin pumps, surgical robots, and hearing aids.
What is digital health?
Digital health is a subset of healthtech that refers to technologies that use digital tools to improve health outcomes. This includes wearable devices, mobile apps, telemedicine, virtual reality, electronic health records, or blockchain.
As you can see, the use of the term "digital health" next to "healthtech" in the article's title is not without merit. If you think of software development as building web or mobile apps people can download from app stores, then you're thinking about digital health, not medtech - and these are the trends we'll mainly explore here.
Healthcare technology trends 2023-2030
1. Digitizing healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare organizations to adapt to a new, digital reality. With in-person visits restricted, organizations had to find new ways to provide care to patients. This led to a rapid increase in the adoption of digital health solutions, such as virtual care, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring.
Digital health solutions offer many benefits for both patients and providers. For patients, they can provide convenient, affordable, and accessible care. For providers, they can help to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.
However, some challenges still need to be addressed to accelerate the adoption of digital health solutions. These challenges include:
- Lack of interoperability between different healthcare systems;
- Security and privacy concerns;
- Lack of patient and healthcare provider awareness.
Despite these challenges, the future of healthcare is digital. Patients want convenient, omnichannel, contactless interactions like other industries provide.
While the transition won't be instant, once triggered by the pandemic, more healthcare providers are expected to move soon. Digital health solutions have the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered, making it more accessible and effective.
Here are two examples of how digital solutions are being used to improve healthcare:
- Medi24 , a telemedicine company based in Switzerland, has developed a symptom triage tool that uses conversational artificial intelligence to help patients understand their symptoms and get the care they need.
- Doctor Anywhere , a telehealth startup in Singapore, offers an internet-based mental health video consultation service that allows users to connect with a therapist from their homes.
These are just a few examples of how digital solutions are being used to improve healthcare. As technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more innovative ways to use digital health to improve the lives of patients and providers.
2. Prevention is better than cure
With the growing adoption of AI, there has been a shift in healthcare providers' approach - a focus transition from treating conditions to predicting them.
How is this transformation achievable?
Healthcare providers gather real-time data from Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices and other sources. They employ AI-powered predictive analytics and harness big data to facilitate instant medical alerts, customize treatments, forecast disease outcomes, predict patient loads, and efficiently identify at-risk patients.
What initiated this emerging trend?
- Patient stratification, an ongoing data-driven process that assigns risk levels to patients based on crucial health indicators, lifestyle, and medical history, has paved the way for identifying high-cost, high-need patients. This enables tailored care management strategies aimed at addressing urgent healthcare requirements.
- Analytics enable the construction of a comprehensive, personalized patient perspective, facilitating a holistic understanding of each patient's health journey. This encompasses previous medical interactions and additional data, including social determinants of health (SDoH).
- In the United States, the Affordable Care Act has prioritized value-based care, continuing to incentivize healthcare providers to maintain patient well-being rather than simply escalating interventions and procedures.
3. Invisible healthcare
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) - collecting and monitoring patient data from a remote location - was another field that caught society's attention due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The need to stay home made healthcare providers find new ways to care for patients with fewer in-person visits, resulting in the quick growth of telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
Ambient health monitoring goes beyond standard RPM. As with remote patient monitoring, it uses sensors and devices to keep track of our health in our everyday surroundings. However, it does much more than that.
Ambient means existing or present on all sides, and it evokes the concept of ambient music, a genre designed to provide unobtrusive accompaniment to other activities1. In a similar vein, ambient health monitoring aims to offer 100% continuous and minimally invasive tracking, making it more apparent and accessible than ever before.
The trend is expanding in a few areas, including precision health, senior care, biomarkers, and smart stickers. Here are a few examples:
- Sensi.AI is an Israel-based remote care monitoring platform monitoring the health and well-being of seniors in their homes. The platform uses audio data from sensors in the house, such as smart speakers, smartphones, and security cameras, to detect daily activities, including eating meals and taking showers.
- Nobi is a stylish smart lamp produced in Belgium. The Nobi lamps use artificial intelligence (move detection) to detect falls, turn on lights, and alert care staff in case of a patient's inactivity.
- Kintsugi Voice is an API-first platform that uses novel voice biomarkers in speech to identify, prioritize, and care for mental health in real time.
- Ellipsis Health harnesses machine learning to generate a clinical-grade assessment of the severity of anxiety and depression.
Considering the ongoing trend to make health monitoring an unnoticeable process, the key focus for upcoming years will be addressing the question: How to create a seamless combination of continuous data collection and user-friendly technology that requires minimal patient involvement?
4. Big Tech enters the healthcare ecosystem
Apart from investing massive funds into developing super-apps (all-in-one apps that bundle search, transaction, and delivery services), the Big Five (Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple) utilize their technical proficiency and leverage extensive customer data to create innovative healthcare models.
Microsoft launched the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to provide integrated capabilities for streamlined workflows, advanced data analytics, improved patient engagement, team collaboration, and operational insights.
Similarly, Amazon introduced AWS for Health, a cloud services platform catering to clinical systems, analytics, AI/ML, patient experiences, research, finance, operations, and core health IT.
This trend is likely to result in two outcomes:
- The new competition will stimulate traditional healthcare players to enhance patient engagement strategies.
- BigTech companies will look to collaborate with conventional healthcare providers to manage the inherent intricacies of healthcare procedures.
5. Shoppable healthcare experience that drives patient engagement
We have grown accustomed to the traditional way healthcare is delivered. However, research shows that people no longer want to settle for public health standards. They want healthcare experiences that are user-centric, personalized, and shoppable, just like the ones they have on Facebook.
In case of the US, the catalyst behind this trend was partly the adoption of the Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rules that give providers and patients greater access to health information.
Providers can now access patient data more easily and quickly, and patients can access their health information through a secure portal. The rules also require that electronic health records (EHR) and ambulatory medical records data be shared seamlessly with claims systems.
How do businesses create engaging and personalized healthcare experiences?
- BetaCare , a telemedicine platform in Nigeria, has launched a WhatsApp chatbot to provide patients with virtual consultations with expert doctors of various specialties. WhatsApp is the leading messaging platform in the country, so BetaCare chose it to reach a wider audience.
- Caligenix , a genetic wellness company, has launched personalized skincare and nutrition brands that use cutting-edge technology to match patients' genomic DNA with the right products.
6. Whole person care
Modern medical practices have shifted towards a more comprehensive approach known as whole-person care. Unlike traditional healthcare, whole person care considers a patient's entire life story, including past experiences, current interactions, and the influence of social determinants of health (SDoH).
Whole person care goes beyond treating only physical ailments, emphasizing mental and emotional well-being, social factors, and overall quality of life. This patient-centered strategy results in personalized care programs that can ultimately reduce healthcare costs.
What drives the holistic health trend?
- Growing recognition of SDoH's importance. These factors, including living conditions, marital status, and socio-economic, emotional, and cultural background, impact health beyond medical conditions alone. By addressing these factors, healthcare systems can provide more effective medical services.
- Polychronic patient trend is on the rise. The rise of patients with multiple chronic conditions, known as polychronic patients, also underscores the need for this approach. Despite constituting just 5% of the US population, they contribute to 45% of national healthcare costs due to their complex medical needs and frequent healthcare use2.
- Post-COVID behavioral crisis. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened behavioral health challenges. The economic impact, social isolation, and uncertainty from COVID-19 have exacerbated behavioral health issues, highlighting the importance of holistic healthcare approaches.
7. Equitable healthcare - addressing the needs of underserved social groups
The pandemic has brought a renewed focus on healthcare equity, prompting ongoing actions even as the crisis abates. COVID-19 highlighted health disparities, particularly affecting communities of color and underserved groups, making them more vulnerable to the virus's impact.
Although these disparities existed previously, the pandemic's constant media coverage underscored their prevalence, emphasizing the need for action.
Healthcare providers understand that equity benefits everyone, as equal access to care lowers severe cases and hospitalizations, making the system more effective.
- CINQCARE serves as an example of a company successfully implementing the equitable healthcare principle. CINQCARE is a provider-led, community-based comprehensive care delivery partner. Their purpose is to improve the health and well-being of patients in their homes and communities – with a deep commitment to Black and Brown people.
8. A shrinking healthcare workforce
The healthcare industry faces workforce shortages, causing labor-related issues across sectors. Even before the pandemic, around 40% of practicing physicians experienced burnout weekly3. Aging demographics and increased life expectancy intensify the healthcare professionals shortage even more.
How are companies addressing the change with healthcare technology?
- Value-based care. The healthcare sector must persist in refining care delivery models. Even though changing from fee-based to value-based care might not fix shortages right away, it could help decrease the need for workers in the future.
- Automation. Improving how certain parts of care are automated could let nurses dedicate more time to patients and less time to administrative or less important jobs. We can also foresee a rising trend in using technology such as telehealth and electronic forms with online payments. These can help reduce the number of staff needed for tasks in the back and front of the office during appointments.
- Artificial intelligence chatbots. AI-powered chatbots using language models can offer patients immediate interactive talks and various services, including booking appointments, getting prescriptions, and addressing inquiries around the clock.
9. Women's health
The global women's health market is expected to increase from $44.82 billion in 2023 to $58.69 billion by 2028, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.54% over the forecast period.4.
Statistics show a growing interest in and investment in women's health. This is due to a number of factors, including the aging population, the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, and the growing awareness of the importance of women's health. At the same time, more and more businesses see the potential in the currently underserved market of women's health services.
Companies target various aspects of women's health and wellness: benefits & financing, cancer, sexual health, maternal health, primary care, mental health, menopause, and fertility. Among them, the last two seem especially prominent.
Femtech turns to menopause
The transition to menopause can be associated with a variety of distressing symptoms. These symptoms include cognitive impairment, hot flashes, sweating, and insomnia. Despite the significance of this natural phase, there is limited access to formal education and medical treatment options for women.
As the women's health space continues to grow, many startups specifically cater to women going through menopause.
- Alloy offers telehealth-driven menopause prescription service focusing on plant-based hormone therapies;
- Vira Health provides AI-backed digital therapeutics for menopause;
- Fifty One Apparel creates advanced clothing materials that regulate temperature to help women manage menopause symptoms.
A lot of women are choosing to become mothers when they are older and looking into their fertility options. This is creating a more immense need for reproductive healthcare that is both creative and comprehensive.
- Hertility provides an algorithm that analyses 1500+ data points to create a personalized hormone panel. This, in turn, lets women better understand how their hormones are impacting their fertility.
- Univfy generates reports enabling women to see their personalized probability of success with IVF and other treatments.
10. Senior healthcare
By 2060, the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to almost double to 95 million, from 52 million in 2018. This age group's share of the total population is also projected to increase from 16% to 23%.5.
The statistics regarding senior health leave no doubts - healthcare services for older people are a dynamically growing market that won't stop anytime soon.
Healthcare organizations are increasingly investing in technologies that can help seniors age in place and maintain their independence. How? Go back to trend #3, where we talked about ambient health monitoring systems, and check the two examples below.
- ElliQ , a small robot developed by Intuition Robotics, is designed to support and accompany older adults on the journey to age independently while reducing loneliness and isolation. ElliQ uses artificial intelligence AI to engage in natural-sounding conversations with users, such as making jokes, playing games, and offering suggestions to promote healthy habits.
- CarePredict combines wearable technology, intelligent indoor location tracking, deep machine learning, and predictive analytics. When minor irregularities arise, or shifts in an individual's behavior are noticed (like slower walking or increased nighttime awakenings), the system notifies caregivers. This allows them to intervene proactively before these concerns escalate into significant health issues.
11. Stepping up strategies to combat cybercrime in healthcare
The rise of advanced technologies has led to more intricate cybercrime, with the healthcare sector being especially targeted.
While Education and Research continue to be the primary targets, the healthcare sector saw a significant 74% surge in attacks year-on-year. In total, global cyberattacks rose by 38% in 2022 in comparison to 20216.
With sensitive patient information at stake, these attacks can disrupt critical business functions and jeopardize patient care and safety.
PwC expects more rules to be enforced, which could add more pressure to the healthcare industry's already being strictly regulated. The increasing number of cyberattacks is one catalyst for adopting robust security strategies. Apart from that, organizations are eager to adopt enhanced security measures because of the development of HIPAA privacy rules and FHIR standards.
- HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, establishes legal standards for safeguarding patient data, promoting cybersecurity in the healthcare industry by ensuring the secure storage and transmission of sensitive medical information.
- FHIR, or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, sets standards for exchanging healthcare data electronically. FHIR provides a standardized collection of APIs, allowing healthcare systems to communicate and securely exchange data, akin to the mechanisms seen in open banking and PSD2 for financial services collaboration.
How can the healthcare sector handle these risks? Here are a few solutions, as mentioned in J.P. Morgans' report:
- Providing cybersecurity education and training across the organization, focusing on recognizing phishing attempts.
- Creating separate networks for critical systems and personal devices of employees and patients.
- Maintaining immutable system backups to recover data after an encryption attack.
- Regularly applying security patches to software, considering risks.
- Conducting thorough assessments of vendors' cybersecurity practices and risks.
- Ensuring close collaboration among executives, IT personnel, and HIPAA compliance experts.
12. Gamification of health
What is the best way to engage patients, instill a sense of responsibility for their healthcare decisions, and turn them into customers? Make them play a game.
In 2022, the worldwide healthcare gamification market was valued at USD 3.15 billion. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.6% from 2023 to 2030, fueled mainly by the rising adoption of smartphones, internet penetration worldwide, and the increasing rate of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, where gamification is predicted to be used a lot7.
The healthcare gamification market is categorized by its applications: education, therapeutics, and prevention.
- SimX , which offers medical virtual reality training.
- Mango Health - an app that reminds users to take their prescribed medication. Every time they take the pills on schedule, they get points. These points enable them to win gift cards or donations to charities.
As gamification continues to intertwine with healthcare, its potential to revolutionize patient engagement and outcomes remains a promising facet of modern healthcare technology trends.
Although this might sound a bit sci-fi compared to the other healthcare technology trends, immortality-as-a-service was one of the 11 tech trends to watch in 2023, according to the CBInsights report.
Tech companies increasingly use AI and genetics to develop products and services that promise to extend human lifespan. While the ultimate goal of immortality may be far-fetched, the potential market for these products is enormous, and age-defying consumers are likely to be a lucrative source of recurring revenue.
How do companies want to make people immortal?
- Altos Labs - hacking cellular processes to reverse aging and rejuvenate cells.
- Elysium Health - analyzing DNA to find aging-associated markers and measure your biological age.
- LyGenesis - making a patient's body grow kidneys, pancreas, or livers on their lymph nodes.
- Algorithmiq - using AI to identify drug candidates from massive databases and simulate drug interactions.
Healthcare technology trends. Summary
Among these widespread trends, one significant force stands out: the widespread integration of artificial intelligence.
As technology propels the world forward, AI's rise becomes a remarkable story of its own. While we often discuss specific trends, AI's integration underpins many of them, driving industries like healthtech towards new frontiers.
Monitoring AI's diverse impacts in this ever-changing landscape isn't just an option – it's a vital duty.
The healthcare industry constantly evolves and innovates, with new trends always emerging. These trends have the potential to revolutionize the way we deliver and receive healthcare, and they are worth keeping an eye on.