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Healthcare Leaders See 4 Digital Technologies As Game Changers in 2019

Healthcare leaders believe four digital technologies — artificial intelligence, big data analytics, mobile health, and wearables — will be game changers this year, according to Frost & Sullivan.

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By Fred Donovan

- Healthcare leaders believe four digital technologies — artificial intelligence, big data analytics, mobile health (mHealth), and wearables — will be game changers this year, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The market research firm predicts that the market for healthcare IT applications using artificial intelligence will reach $1.7 billion by the end of 2019, growing at a robust 68.5 percent of compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2022.

“AI-powered IT tools that manage payers’ and providers’ business risks in clinical, operational, financial, and regulatory settings will especially find high uptake,” said Frost & Sullivan Transformational Health Industry Analyst Kamaljit Behera.

Frost & Sullivan expects the healthcare big data analytics market to reach $68 billion by next year as more specialty-specific products are used by providers.

In addition, the market for digital health technologies enabling out-of-hospital care will total $25 billion, growing by 30 percent this year. Key segments include remote patient monitoring devices, telehealth and mHealth platforms, and personal emergency response systems.

READ MORE: Healthcare Artificial Intelligence Speeds Chest X-ray Processing

By the end of this year, Frost & Sullivan expects the global healthcare market to exceed $1.96 trillion. Up to 15 percent of healthcare spending is expected to be directed toward value-based care concepts. This will cause a surge in the number of risk-sharing contracts between providers and drug and device makers, driving business value for providers, it predicted.                                                                  

One technology that is not expected to have a major impact on healthcare this year is blockchain. “Blockchain in healthcare is slowly starting to migrate from pilot proof of concept (PoC) to early commercial implementations,” said Kamaljit.

Forrester Research Senior Analyst Arielle Trzcinski agrees that healthcare blockchain won’t take off this year.

“We think blockchain is overhyped. What we find is organizations using blockchain just to be able to say they are using blockchain. They are not necessarily tapping into the power of blockchain in terms of security and transparency,” Trzcinski told HITInfrastructure.com.

“Many healthcare pilot projects are not necessarily leveraging the core infrastructure of blockchain. They are saying, ‘We are using blockchain for this thing. Isn’t it cool and sexy?’ But you don’t need blockchain for some of these things,” she said.

READ MORE: Reports: Healthcare Artificial Intelligence Market CAGR of 47%-50%

IDC Health Insights Research Director Mutaz Shegewi observed: “Increasingly, the healthcare industry is becoming more pragmatic in terms of what blockchain can and can’t offer. It is a promising technology. It holds a lot of opportunity to unleash untapped value in stagnant, siloed data reserves. That comes from its properties—an immutable, distributed ledger.”

He added, “There are consortiums being formed. There is increasing commercialization of blockchain that is being piloted and implemented. There are a number of companies that have issued offerings through blockchain that tie to patient engagement using gamification to improve their care.”

Shegewi believes that AI will have a major impact on healthcare this year. “Radiology is the best example we have of the impact of AI. We are starting to see medical device manufacturers embed AI technology that allows radiologists to do their job better and more conveniently.”

“There is also an interesting application of AI in the clinical documentation and workflow. We are seeing vendors introducing algorithms for population health. Another advanced application of AI we’ve seen recently is embedding virtual assistants to facilitate clinical documentation and workflow similar to how we would use Siri on our Apple phones to perform various functions,” he said.

IDC Health Insights predicts that AI is likely to directly affect 25 percent of healthcare organizations by 2020. In addition, IDC forecasts that 40 percent of healthcare providers will use AI and machine learning to improve their cybersecurity capabilities with automated threat detection.

READ MORE: Healthcare IT Spending Priorities Include Big Data Analytics, AI

“The increase in attack surface and the loss of architecture perimeter due to the digitalization of medical equipment and implementation of IoT-based sensors are progressively raising the complexity of the overall digital infrastructure,” IDC observed in its report FutureScape: Worldwide Health Industry 2019 Predictions. 

“The adoption of AI and machine learning-based cybersecurity solutions will add transparency to network operations, increasing visibility and improving collaboration,” the report said.

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