Experts say innovations in health technologies will play a pivotal role in ‘reinventing’ digital health and wellbeing this year as artificial intelligence takes centre stage.
Ever since the industrial revolution, advancements in technology have been used to improve human health, from creating new devices for medical treatment to the deployment of software to make healthcare management more efficient.
The past few years have seen growing interest in revolutionising healthcare using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and even quantum computing. According to Statista, revenue in digital health is projected to reach nearly $194bn this year.
So what’s in store for health-tech in 2024? Spectrum.Life CTO Gary Coffey thinks the sector is poised for some “groundbreaking” advancements, changing the way we approach healthcare.
“Innovations in health-tech have the potential to reinvent digital health and wellbeing, most notably through the incorporation of automated decision-making recommendations aimed at enhancing healthcare outcomes,” Coffey says.
“Leveraging advanced analytics and personalised user-specific metrics, health-tech platforms are gearing up to offer tailored personalised guidance and treatment plans, optimising the digital health experience for their customers.”
‘Holistic and preventive approach’
Late last year, we celebrated Future Health Week at SiliconRepublic.com, looking at how Ireland has carved a niche for itself within Europe as a pioneer in health-tech research and innovation at all levels, from early-stage companies to global powerhouses that call the island home.
Start-ups on the island are making the most of innovations in health, from creating new ways of detecting cancer to making accessing healthcare research and clinical trials easier. Similarly, Irish universities are also teeming with research and innovation in the space.
At a global level, Coffey said that health and wellbeing metrics will play a pivotal role, drawing from comprehensive datasets encompassing a customer’s medical history, sleep patterns, fitness routines and nutritional habits.
“This wealth of information will enable health-tech platforms to furnish practical recommendations related to health policy eligibility, fostering a genuinely connected care experience,” he explained.
“This proactive approach not only empowers users to make informed decisions regarding their health but also reinforces engagement by providing valuable, personalised guidance.”
And as automated next-best-action recommendations become more prevalent, Coffey thinks health-tech platforms will shift their focus beyond existing health concerns to guiding users in achieving their health objectives.
“This marks a significant shift towards a more holistic and preventive approach to digital health, where technology becomes a supportive and integral companion in users’ overall daily health journey on a daily basis,” he goes on.
“We have seen with AI symptom checkers which are already integrated with some major global insurers, that there is a place for clinically driven AI.”
AI will take centre stage
For Adrian Sutherland, strategy director of global healthcare at UK-based software company Endava, AI will have a substantial impact on diagnostics and treatment in 2024.
“With healthcare workers continuing to face challenges like staff shortages and burnout, automation can assist by taking over routine tasks and processes with AI-powered applications like documentation and voice-to-text transcription, freeing up time and allowing professionals to spend more time on patient care,” he explains.
“Further use cases for AI in healthcare will range from assisting in the interpretation of medical images such as x-rays and CT scans, predicting patient risks and health outcomes by analysing patterns in historical data and monitoring patient data in real-time, identifying signs of disease exacerbation and enabling proactive management of chronic conditions.”
The year ahead also has the potential for a fully digital connected health journey to change daily health management, argues Coffey.
“Your health insurance app should be the first app to be opened in the morning and the last app to be closed before bedtime. As the synergy between technology and healthcare intensifies, 2024 promises a future where innovation leads to more accessible, efficient and patient-centric healthcare solutions,” he says.
“The crucial question for health-tech plans in 2024 revolves around how seamlessly AI can be integrated into the user journey and to what extent this interaction will be automated.”
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Updated, 30 January 2024, 9.55am: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Gary Coffey as CEO of Spectrum.Life. It has been amended to state his role as CTO.