In the past two years, the healthcare sector has experienced major changes and swerved toward technology, maximizing the use of e-Health and m-Health in their operations. These changes are attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that shook the world in 2020. The pandemic exposed key structural realities in the healthcare space, highlighted areas where they were falling behind and influenced healthcare innovation. In 2021, the health industry experienced significant growth and innovation, such as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), artificial intelligence, virtual clinics, telehealth and mobile health, to name a few. Healthcare tech startups amassed funding of $57.2 billion. On the plus side, 2022 appears to be a promising year, with a lot of change in the global health sector.
The Nigerian healthcare sector is beset by too many challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, a low doctor-to-patient ratio, brain drain, a high disease prevalence, and bad management, to name a few. Fortunately, if implemented, technology can assist in resolving some of these challenges and assist us in reaching the best position by the end of this year. Popular technologies such as electronic medical records can aid in improved management, while cloud computing technologies can protect data.
Healthcare professionals feel that technology will aid in meeting Nigeria’s healthcare demands in 2022. This is attested to by Dr Olujimide Coker, the managing director of Lagoon Hospital, who stated in an interview with Business Day that “aspects of medical practice such as radiology and diagnosis on radiology have been transformed using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.” Companies and technologies, including ParallelScore are rising to help accelerate the change needed to help transform the healthcare ecosystem. These digital trends will improve the healthcare sector in the coming months. Let’s dive into some of these trends.
Trend 1: Adoption of cloud computing technologies
The healthcare sector relies on data and information management to survive. Cloud computing technologies are the innovation that has aided the industry in this area thus far. By facilitating data access and processing, cloud computing improves how healthcare practitioners diagnose, treat, and communicate. The healthcare sector can realize the digital transformation anticipated in 2022 through the use of cloud computing technology. Healthcare workers use Cloud-based technologies to improve information management by implementing electronic health records, remote medical monitoring, and mobile health services. Cloud networks will be useful in the health sector as the world becomes more virtual. One of the Nigerian startups that focuses on cloud computing technologies is Curacel. They use cloud-based tools and APIs to ensure that health insurance companies operate effectively.
Trend 2: The rapid increase of wearable technology
The advancement of wearable technology is one of the most significant innovations in the healthcare field. Wearables and IoMT have enhanced consumer health awareness over the years, and the potential of these technologies has grown enormously. Healthcare practitioners and patients use wearables to remotely monitor a patient’s health state. Smartwatches, which help to monitor heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and physical health, are the most popular wearables. In the past year, the Apple Watch and Fitbit have become the most popular devices for monitoring one’s health. This year, there are high expectations for this innovation. Bio patches and smart hearing aids are two other devices to keep an eye out for in 2022.
Trend 3: Incorporation of artificial intelligence
Before the pandemic, some startups saw a need to incorporate artificial intelligence into healthcare, and one of such Nigerian startups is RxAll. RxAll is an AI platform that authenticates medicines and enables pharmacy procurement. During the pandemic, artificial intelligence came in handy, assisting in the analysis of crowd temperature data and facial recognition. Now that the pandemic has passed, one could wonder how artificial intelligence can still benefit the healthcare industry. AI can help with diagnosis, drug research, and tracking trends in mental health through chatbots and intelligent decision support systems, among other things.
Trend 4: The expansion of telemedicine
Telemedicine implies consumer convenience and accessibility, and it is only natural for technologists to follow this trend and improve delivery. Telemedicine, unlike other technological advancements, was available years before the pandemic, and it is only normal to have expectations for this field. One of the Nigerian startups that have been able to improve virtual health consultation is CribMD. The subscription-based telemedicine platform was founded during the COVID-19 pandemic and so far, has been able to provide valuable telemedicine. The tech space is looking into an expansion of the telemedicine field in 2022.
Trend 5: Development of Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual and augmented reality are the most recent technologies in the healthcare industry. VR and AR, which are popular in the gaming and entertainment industries, are now being employed in the healthcare sector for surgical training and planning, chronic pain management, and mental health. They use these technologies to create realistic settings for the treatment of mental illnesses. These technologies have a bright future in 2022, with various startups aiming to develop the technology. Verified Market Research predicts an enormous growth of $34 billion in this field by 2027.