The COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-term impact on the attitude of patients. More people will be aware of health risks associated with specific diseases and adopt a proactive approach to prevention and treatment. While younger social groups will focus on a lifestyle to prevent chronic diseases, silver society will demand active and healthy ageing opportunities. Vaccinations and the use of technology to monitor health will become increasingly important. Local authorities will be more eager to start prevention and telemonitoring programs for people from risk groups and chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart diseases, and cardiovascular diseases) to increase their quality of life and reduce mortality. Older people will start using smartwatches and other wearables to monitor their heart condition continuously. Health and fitness applications, which have been downloaded much more often during the pandemic, will enjoy enduring popularity.
Healthcare in the post-pandemic era will also be more mobile thanks to telehealth consultations and new pro-digital regulations laid down by governments to facilitate access to medical services. Ongoing access to electronic health records and related health programs in your smartphone will make health issues some of the most critical topics in everyday life.
1,249M health and fitness apps were downloaded in Q1-Q2 2020 compared to 934M during the same period in 2019.
A growing number of digital health solutions will force regulatory bodies to create a validation system for health apps and portals. With the increasing focus on prevention, such solutions will be prescribed or commonly recommended. Digital therapeutics will be an integral part of every drug therapy. They will help patients make more informed decisions and enable service providers to have ongoing rather than just incidental control over treatment outcomes.
The leading investors in telehealth will be the governments of specific counties and companies offering healthy ageing and longevity solutions. Solutions that currently help a small group of people, such as smartwatches and fitness bands that monitor health parameters, will become cheaper and more popular. A challenge will be integrating data generated by individuals with health records and using them in big data analytics. Home voice assistants will give people tips on how to take care of their health. Mobile apps will turn into healthy sleep coaches and digital trainers helping people maintain or achieve good physical and mental health. Data acquired by such solutions will be integrated into electronic health records (EHR) so that the doctor not only has insight into the medical history but, most importantly, gains the ability to identify health risks in time and diagnose the first symptoms of a disease.
New technologies will affect how clinicians work
In 2025, medicine will be predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory (4P). The transformation will be accelerated by digital therapeutics and easier access to data, enabled by improving systems and data interoperability. AI algorithms built into IT systems will analyse data stored in EHRs and help make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. They will also generate customized prevention pathways for every patient. Medical data in EHRs will be extended to include a range of additional information, such as the quality of sleep or mental health biomarkers – the priority for mature societies will be to maximize the quality of life and good health.
Teleconsultations will be improved due to the possibility of examining the patient with the use of diagnostic features in smartphones. Robotization and automation will lead to more efficient time management and changes in the duties of medical staff. Due to the rapid development of telemedicine, the quality of health will be related to healthcare professionals’ communication abilities. Digitization will lead to the emergence of new specializations in medicine. Instead of working in offices, doctors will be employed in large telehealth centres or data management centres organized under monitoring programs for patients with chronic diseases. New medical devices equipped with AI algorithms will emerge, such as a digital stethoscope, which patients will be able to use themselves during telehealth appointments. A teleconsultation will be no different in quality than an office visit.
Patient-centered treatment and prevention will become the standard practice
The development of digital health technologies—that enable a more efficient flow of data—will lead to establishing a new healthcare model, referred to as “digital-first.” It is expected that due to an increasing demand for health services, chatbots and AI systems will become the first points of care for patients in order to evaluate their health. Health bots will make the initial diagnosis, monitoring and assessing health data in order to support treatment. This element will also be a part of a seamless patient pathway. A more significant role of the digital factor will be balanced out by extended support in local communities and the integration of healthcare with social services. Pharmacists’ medical competencies will increase in the new health ecosystem—pharmacies will introduce new health services. All healthcare system puzzles – doctors’ offices, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, and patients’ homes – will be integrated to create continuous care, which will replace the current health model characterized by randomity and limited access to information. Pharmaceutical companies will go beyond manufacturing drugs and include digital therapeutics (DTx) in their business models.
Companies from the medical and technological sectors will play a more important role in designing and planning healthcare. Medical apps whose effectiveness has been confirmed by clinical studies and AI algorithms compliant with the requirements for medical devices imposed by regulatory authorities will become more critical. It will be necessary to share data in accordance with interoperability standards, adopt transparent models of data processing in the cloud, and ethically data utilization for secondary purposes. In sustainable healthcare systems, innovations will be created in clusters based on cooperation between academic centres, IT companies, patients’ organizations, and clinics.
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