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2024 Healthcare Trends to Keep on Your Radar

Mar 7, 2024   |   By SEI Team

Healthcare is set to experience a huge tech boom in 2024 — here’s what this means for the industry.

In this world, nothing stays the same. Seasons change, trends come and go, and society continues to strive for the next best thing. The healthcare industry is no different, prone to the push and pull of advancing technology and consumer demands. That is why it is important to regularly reflect on what’s left a mark on the industry, what continues to transform it, and what’s to come.

In our 2023 Healthcare Trends article, we talked about the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), at-home and retail healthcare, and staff shortages, among many other pressing patterns. While many of these dynamics are still present, some are evolving as innovations grow in potential, policies change, and new solutions for healthcare delivery and management are implemented. As we look into 2024, we’re dissecting the key drivers propelling healthcare into uncharted territories and shaping the future of medicine.

Advancements in AI and Machine Learning

AI has become an explosive force, rocking every industry over the past few years, and especially so over the past few months. And according to Maximize Market Research, it’s only going to become more ubiquitous. Within the healthcare space alone, AI was worth nearly $20 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach almost $184 billion in revenue by 2030 — a 38% CAGR. Paired with machine learning, AI offers enormous promise in healthcare, particularly in diagnostics, improving patient outcomes, and clinical or administrative work. Let’s take a closer look.

Enhancing Diagnostic Accuracy

By analyzing vast amounts of medical data, including imaging scans, lab work, and patient records, AI algorithms can detect patterns and anomalies with unparalleled precision and speed, allowing healthcare professionals to detect diseases earlier on and create better, more personalized treatment plans. Already, the average agreement rate between virtual primary care physicians and AI-driven diagnostics hovered around 90%, according to a study published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Digital Health. Plus, AI’s ability to continuously learn and adapt from new data ensures that diagnoses improve over time, even as novel medical research emerges.

Predictive Analytics for Patient Care

Similarly, AI-driven predictive analytics can forecast health outcomes and identify high-risk individuals before symptoms manifest. The Radiological Society of North America studied a relatively new AI algorithm with the ability to assess CT scans and predict life-threatening diseases. With this extended insight, physicians and specialists can proactively create a care plan, curtail hospital admissions or readmissions, and ultimately, save lives by averting health crises before they escalate.

Streamlining Administrative Tasks & Addressing Burnout

According to a survey by Tebra, a medical service platform, over 10% of U.S. doctors already use AI for clerical work, while 50% plan to embrace the technology sometime soon. With the average physician spending almost 16 hours weekly on paperwork and other administrative tasks, AI in healthcare can alleviate this burden so that medical professionals can devote more time and resources to directly addressing patient needs.

For example, healthcare AI applications can automate tasks such as scheduling, billing, and compliance documentation for faster patient intake and processing. As mentioned, AI is also capable of tackling more analytical responsibilities, such as diagnostic support and patient monitoring. This can help reduce clinician burnout among an already dwindling healthcare staff while improving the efficiency of healthcare delivery.

Supporting Clinical Decision-Making

AI acts as a “second brain” for medical professionals, furnishing real-time insights as patient files are updated. Synthesizing complex information into actionable recommendations, AI empowers healthcare providers to make informed decisions tailored to each patient’s unique needs. It’s a feature that becomes incredibly useful when time is of the essence and human emotions can cloud judgment.

Cybersecurity and Blockchain Technology

With sensitive data at stake and the threat of cyberattacks looming large, safeguarding healthcare information has been a top priority — especially as technology becomes more ingrained in every facet of our lives. Data breaches are not only damaging to one’s personal assets, it’s incredibly costly. Research from Security Intelligence shows that healthcare is a leading target for cyber attacks, with the average cost of a data breach amounting to nearly $11 million. Here are some ways healthcare organizations are fortifying their defenses this year for more robust protection.

Enhancing Data Security

Blockchain technology — a record-keeping system that allows everyone in the network to safely access the same information — offers a highly secure framework for managing health data. It decentralizes data by distributing it across several computers, eliminating single points of failure and, therefore, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. Blockchain also runs on cryptographic principles that encrypt all stored data, making them tamper-proof. In 2022, this tool was worth almost $1 billion globally, but Precedence Research predicts this market size will soar up to nearly $15 billion by 2032.

Improving Patient Privacy

This technology not only grants patients more transparency into their medical records, but enables more secure and seamless health data management. For example, with blockchain, patients can manage access permissions and selectively share their information with healthcare providers as needed, protecting their privacy while building trust and clarity in healthcare interactions.

Streamlining Health Information Exchange

Blockchain deconstructs traditional silos associated with health information, allowing both doctors and patients to quickly and securely share data with each other. It lays the foundation for a more integrated, patient-centric approach to healthcare delivery that consumers want while reducing the risk of errors stemming from fragmented data exchanges. 

Expansion of Virtual Care

Telehealth use in late 2023 reached a low of 5.8% — a drop from 31% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from Epic Research. Nonetheless, there has been an above-average demand for telehealth for mental health and infectious disease management. While an incredibly useful, convenient, and safe alternative to in-person care during the pandemic, telehealth has now shifted from a primary healthcare option to a supplemental one. It still remains an ideal choice for patients facing geographical barriers, tight schedules, and limited transportation access.

Virtual care also supports better care coordination as medical specialists can easily convene to discuss treatment plans, review patient progress, and develop plans for follow-up care. Much like how hybrid work schedules have become more common than fully remote jobs, this trend is expected to translate over to healthcare, with patients divvying up time between in-office doctor visits and virtual appointments to best fit their needs and preferences.

Wearable Devices and Virtual Reality

From smartwatches to biosensors and fitness trackers, wearable devices are allowing patients to take control of their health from home. Offering actionable insights into a patient’s real-time vital signs, sleep patterns, and physical activity, these devices can be used for preventive care and have the potential to save lives through early detection and proactive intervention. Compounded with AI and machine learning algorithms, these wearables can also become smarter, with an increased ability to detect subtle changes that may manifest into a dangerous health episode.

The market for wearables is already booming, with one study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute finding one in three Americans using a wearable device in 2023 — and with 80% of these users willing to share health data from these products with their doctors, the opportunity is ripe for further growth.

Close on its heels is virtual reality (VR), with a projected CAGR of nearly 35%, according to Future Business Insights. VR technology immerses users in virtual environments — for doctors, this means a safe and controlled environment where they can undergo realistic simulations of medical procedures for surgical training. For patients, VR can help with rehab, physical therapy, and pain management by distracting them from painful stimuli and possibly reducing reliance on pain medications. It’s still an arena that’s being refined, but it holds much promise for enhancing patient experiences.

Stay Ahead of These Trends with SEI

Resisting change means resisting success. With patients at the helm of propelling healthcare trends, your business needs a comprehensive strategy that not only embraces these patterns, but becomes the next leader in driving innovation. At SEI, we can help you do just that. Whether you need data governance guidance or a complete operational transformation, our consultants know what it takes to turn your organization into an industry powerhouse.

Keep up with the latest healthcare industry changes with the help of our SEI consultants.

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