COVID-19, undoubtedly, speed up the timeline of innovation and adoption in the industries of digital health and medtech. No sector of care is changing faster than that of outpatient care.
The demand in the digital healthcare industry:
- Low-cost solutions, considering the high demand for services paired with reduced GDP in order to support the system.
- Efficient solutions, in light of fewer doctors, to meet increased demand.
- More patient engagement to realize the potential of connected mobile medical devices (CMMD) and software as a medical device (SaMD).
The priorities above, all lead to outpatient care. There is roughly $4 trillion dollars worth in play within Medtech investors that are looking for excellent and booming companies that come close to the expertise of leading MedTech-specific software developers such as ScienceSoft to create life-saving and life-altering breakthroughs in technology.
Smart technologies focused on outpatient care should be the aim of smart medtech investors. Below are 5 technologies to watch out for.
”Mobile health”, meaning the practice of medicine via a mobile phone, is what mHealth stands for. It is a submarket of eHealth, otherwise known as ”electronic health” which initially focused on the use of computers, prior to the ubiquity of mobile devices.
Through the use of mobile apps there can be communication between patients and their medical providers, promotion of medical education and awareness and also, notifications to support chronic disease management or regimen adherence.
mHealth also intersects with the booming interest in SaMD, which repurposes native features of popular mobile devices to perform the functions of medical devices. Think of the different functions performed by a mobile phone. SaMD apps have used:
- The Camera for remote diagnostics and imaging.
- The Microphone for breathing and sleep cycle analysis.
- The Triaxial Accelerometer, which indicates the orientation of a phone or smartwatch to let it know when to turn on, to detect motor disorders.
In 2018 the mHealth industry was valued at $30.2 billion, with the expectation of growing by 38.5% CAGR from 2019 to 2025. Global Market Insights confirms that the number of mHealth apps available for iOS, WatchOS and Android exceed 325,000. Considering that staggering figure and the growing interest in digital health and the expected percentage of growth now seems conservative.
Enabling patients to perform more medical functions frown their own home will reduce the pressure on hospital admissions, trending toward better outpatient services.
2. Telemedicine and Telehealth
During an era when people want to spend as little time as possible in waiting rooms, and even less in the presence of coughing strangers, telemedicine has drawn significant attention.
Telemedicine and telehealth adopt the use of remote communication to perform medical visits that would traditionally be performed face-to-face. These new solutions provide extreme efficiency as they alleviate the burden of inpatient admissions by relocating some of them to telehealth outpatient treatment. If a patient does not need to physically go to the hospital to see their doctor or other provider, there will, of course, be less patients in the hospital.
And telemedicine does not only provide a simple Zoom conference between a patient and a doctor but it also provides automated processes, such as simple data-driven diagnostics, AI customer support and physician live-chats.
According to research by Fortune Business Insights, the telemedicine market is expected to tip the scales at a whopping $185.66 billion by the year 2026, representing a 23.5% CAGR. This rapid growth is attributed to the growing demand for outpatient services, mainly due to COVID.
3. Wearable Devices
Wearable devices such as the FitBit and the Apple Health suite of fitness monitors on the Apple Watch, could potentially contribute to the overall fitness of the nation, reducing pressure on hospitals with fewer hospitalizations and creating an overall healthier populace.
Wearable devices, however, have the ability to play a more direct role in facilitating successful outpatient care. For example, Corrie, an iOS app that pairs with a WatchOS app to connect a user’s iPhone with their Apple Watch to monitor their aftercare in the aftermath of a cardiac incident, a heart attack or other heart disease hospitalization.
Discharged heart patients using Corrie had a mere 3% readmission rate, compared to 19% for the control group, a study by Johns Hopkins revealed. Corrie can monitor it’s users heart rate, number of steps per day and medication adherence.
Other SaMD apps are in development to monitor cardiac outpatient subjects’ breathing and circulation during the critical sleeping hours, enabling emergency responders to react quickly in the event of an incident, reducing the need for a long inpatient monitoring period.
Wearable devices are forecasted to represent a $51.6 billion industry by the year 2022, having a critical role in the improvement of outpatient outcomes.
4. Monitoring Remotely
If patients can be monitored outside of a hospital there are fewer patients that need hospitalization. The use of WiFi, cellular data and other forms of Cloud connectivity to monitor patient vitals from anywhere in the world, all forms of remote monitoring, have given and will continue to give outpatient care a massive boost.
After covering some of the roles that SaMD plays in this process, it is equally important to cover the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), a subset of the IoT that consists of the network of medical devices connected to the internet. Examples include:
- Implanted blood glucose monitors.
- Implanted heart monitors.
- Implanted EEG monitors.
These devices provide large amounts of data to the medical provider, which can be parsed for patterns by AI learning machines, and they also provide a solution for fast response in the event of an emergency, reducing the need for long inpatient monitoring periods.
According to Prophecy Market Insights, the IoMT measured at $24.4 billion in the year 2019 but is expected to exceed $285.5 billion by 2029, a CAGR of 28%.
5. Portal Technology
Although portal technologies are not novel technology, as almost every web enterprise has its own member portal, the sensitivity of medical data and HIPAA concerns add extra pressure on the creation of medical portals and the sort of information that can be extracted from them.
By using advanced encryption techniques to give patients ”anywhere” access to medical cata captured at clinic vistis or by wearable devices, IoMT devices, SaMD, etc., medtech companies are now rising to that challenge. This advanced encryption also enables result-monitoring of mail-in tests available to test for prediabetes, heart disease markers, sexually transmitted diseases and even COVID-19 itself.
By providing better access to inpatient records, secure patient portals will facilitate the transition to more effective outpatient care.
In the pursuit of a better quality of life, the advances in healthcare technology and Medtech will define the next century. Effective investment will help to reduce the amount of time patients spend in the hospital but without having to sacrifice beneficial outcomes. That is better for everyone’s health and happiness, providers and patients alike.