Big changes came to medicine and healthcare last year.
From EMR mandates and adoption, to personal health apps, and shifts in the health insurance markets due to government intervention, 2014 started a lot of trends in healthcare.
Most of these trends will continue and even accelerate in 2015, but here are five more we think will really make themselves known this year:
Gamification has been a staple of training and eLearning for a while now, even in medical education, but expect to see it expand in 2015 to directly affect patient outcomes. Studies suggest as many as 50% of patients living with chronic diseases don’t follow their treatment regimens. Gamifying these, giving patients goals, rewards, levels, and points as they complete tasks related to treatment, will greatly improve the compliance rate.
We’ve talked plenty about wearables before, and it’s because their potential is so exciting. Not only can wearable clothing with medical sensors provide healthcare providers with crucial, lifesaving data, but wearable glasses and goggles can do everything from help surgeons in the operating room to provide medical students an immersive, realistic training experience. Already an EMR has been integrated with Google Glass, and in 2015 we believe this trend will accelerate.
Medicine at a distance is a natural offshoot of the internet connecting people instantly all across the globe. This technology has huge potential to offer access to top-notch care even for populations not normally served by first-world doctors. It can also lower the cost of medical consultations for patients who may not need in-person checkups for minor health issues. Already technologies like Google’s Helpouts for Health are connecting patients and healthcare providers online. Telepresence robots like the RP-VITA, currently active in several hospitals, take things to the next level and allow doctors a whole new level of interaction with patients thousands of miles away.
Mobile medical apps were big news in 2014 and we expect their adoption to accelerate in 2015. But the bigger news this year will be more on the mobile hardware side of things than on the software-focused mHealth apps market. From tricorder-like devices that can diagnose medical issues with advanced sensors, to improvements on medical monitoring technology like the Fitbit, to cups that track exactly what you’re drinking, medical technology will be democratizing and spreading in 2015.
Everyone last year was talking about the fact that 3D printers can now be used to build guns, but 2015 will bring less controversial innovations to the realm of additive manufacturing. Doctors can use 3D printers not only to create customized casts, prosthetics, braces, and implants like knee replacements, but also to print off replicas of a patient’s internal organs (from an MRI scan) to practice on before a surgery. While we’re a ways off from being able to fully 3D print organs, we’ll also see some exciting progress on that front over the next 12 months.
What medical technology trends are you predicting for 2015? Add them in the comments!