While the nature of healthcare systems may vary among countries, they share many challenges. Convergent forces such as ageing populations and increasing rates of chronic conditions, alongside rising expectations for higher quality care, are observable worldwide. Taken together with emerging digital technologies and medical advancements, one challenge has become using an exciting (but confusing) array of new tools to address myriads of complex problems. Overall, there is a transition underway from a linear, event-driven process of diagnosis and treatment towards a demand-driven and patient-centric health system.
The first observable feature of this transition is how disruptive technologies are promoting greater patient empowerment: health apps and wearables have enabled individuals to continuously gather data on themselves. Such internet-of-things products make people more knowledgeable and accountable for their own conditions, which helps them better manage their health outside of hospitals. This increased engagement comes together with calls for better access, more personalised care options, and transparency when it comes to quality and costs. Patients-as-consumers will reward services and products and institutions that honour these demands—they want to be enabled to make their own, informed health-related choices based on personalised information.
Thus, for many providers, patient-facing technologies are the future. However, such a world will require an ecosystem through which huge amounts of data can be moved and shared appropriately. The need for flexible and instant information, together with demands for security and privacy, spells a significant part of the challenge that the healthcare sector faces. Moving ahead, successful will be those that adapt quickly to new ways of safely sharing information and that foster intra-industry collaboration.
The norm that the sector is creeping towards, through healthtechs' efforts and existing providers getting inventive, is one where doctors and patients have access to a real-time, 360° view of a patient's health. As a result of this fine-tuned use of data, patients can keep better track of their own health and stay out of hospital as much as possible, while having, when they do have to see a doctor, the information handily available to aid the professional analysis.
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