The digital revolution is developing very dynamically and it cannot be denied that the last year and the accompanying COVID-19 pandemic additionally accelerated many activities aimed at popularizing online services. We thought it would be worth looking at successful projects that are changing the way services are used in different areas. For a start, we chose healthcare, finance, and e-learning. So this article will be the first part of the series, but who knows if it will not extend to other industries. Get ready for a collection of interesting tools and accompanying technologies that are currently on the rise. How have they developed? How do they change the world? What distinguishes them? Why are they so important to their industries? On what foundations are they constructed? This article will help answer all these questions.
First, let's explain why we chose these 3 industries. The numbers, which speak for themselves, will help:
The figures are impressive, but what counts most are the amenities that individual platforms, applications, and tools can help not only with getting things done during a pandemic but also by becoming a permanent part of modern banking, education, or health care. We are fans of innovation and solidly-prepared digital transformation. That is why we observe the market and constantly learn. Here are the solutions that have made the greatest impression on us recently. Let's start with healthcare.
Healthcare applications are a very wide topic, which includes smartphone applications that allow you to track health parameters, but also extensive interfaces connecting hospitals, doctors, and administration in common ecosystems. It cannot be denied that the whole world has a lot of hope for them. The belief in change is so great that sometimes, without verification, investors blindly believe in the marketing of startups offering functionalities that do not really exist (see the case study of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes). However, we will focus on reliable solutions. Here are a few examples of the mHealth revolution:
On the basis of these examples, three main areas for which innovative technologies are created can be distinguished: healthcare applications for institutions, for professionals, and for patients (or just smartphone users). Each of these categories is a different modern technology. They are also worth taking a look at.
Technologies that will change the healthcare system
Let's take a look at technologies that have been a hot topic in the world of modern healthcare for several years. It is these solutions that are most often referred to as something that can change the face of modern treatment, diagnosis, and management of the health service.
The healthcare system is one big multi-level structure that collects and stores huge amounts of data. Modern technologies allow them to be used in order to analyze, combine or search for information. The demand for EHR (Electronic Health Records) is growing all over the world. More countries are digitizing health care, making the work of specialists and administration employees easier, as well as providing convenient access to prescriptions and test results to patients themselves. Big Data is also an opportunity for new discoveries in the field of medicine. It means more effective diagnosis of patients and effective testing of new treatment methods.
In the European Union alone, there are currently many promising projects using Big Data. They are intended to support the sustainability of health systems by improving the quality and effectiveness of treatment, fighting chronic diseases, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Here are some interesting Big Data innovations which in 2012-2018 were financially supported by the European Commission:
However, when browsing the websites and social media of these startups, you can see that some of them are no longer being developed. This is more proof of how difficult it is to reconcile the galloping development of technology and the slow analysis and research characteristic of science and medicine.
Since we are talking about large amounts of data, we can immediately move smoothly to the next technology that finds practical use in healthcare. Patient data must be secure and not easy to control when dealing with different levels of storage and retrieval. A blockchain ensures confidentiality, anonymity (user data replace identifiers inside the network), transparency, independence (technology is based on an encoded cryptographic structure, so it does not need any intermediary institution) and efficiency is certainly the future when it comes to the development of health and medicine related applications.
The third type of technology that could not be missing here is Artificial Intelligence. It's all these algorithms and machine learning software that mimics human cognition and helps you analyze medical and healthcare data. Especially useful for AI is the ability to collect information, process it, and give a well-defined output to the end-user. The use of artificial intelligence not only supports human performance and speeds up operations, but also reduces costs. The potential of this technology in medicine is huge. In one of its publications, PwC draws attention to 8 elements of the healthcare ecosystem that will be revolutionized by AI and robotics:
AR and VR aren't just about catching Pokemon and provide a new experience in the adult industry. As reported by Allied Market Research, by 2026 the virtual and augmented healthcare market will gain a value of $2.4 billion. The technologies are to be used primarily in the treatment of pain, memory exercises, and training of specialists. The medical industry has high hopes, especially on the last of these grounds. Surgeons can learn their profession without risking their patients' health. 3D operating theaters and virtual training courses have a promising future ahead of them. VR can also improve procedures at the operating table. The key to success will be realism and precision, which will eliminate the risk of creating differences between the visualization and the real patient.
Knowing that already 30.3% of IoT devices are used in the healthcare industry, it is not difficult to guess how important innovations in this sector are. This applies not only to the consumer market, where body parameters such as blood pressure, but heart rate, temperature, or sugar level can also be conveniently tested, and the results are available from smartphones. The importance of specialized measuring devices for hospitals and doctors' offices will also increase. Medical equipment can connect to the Internet, analyze data, recognize specific disorders and suggest solutions. The devices will collect even more information that can be used in research on specific diseases.
Investors' eyes shine when they hear about Blockchain, AI or Big Data. But innovation is not everything. When working on applications for healthcare, you need to take special care of solid foundations. And they won't always be as exciting as VR or the Internet of Things…
The healthcare industry is, above all, extremely strict regarding privacy and legal regulations. It must be remembered that in different countries different standards must be met, which are most often regulated by very extensive documents. In Canada, for example, this would be the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). From 2018, the European Union requires compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in all healthcare apps created in member countries. When developing tools for the US market, you need to familiarize yourself with the laws of individual states. An example of such a regulatory document is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Another foundation of an efficient health care application is integration with other services. Databases, other health care facilities, inter-departmental communication, information exchange, lists of points providing specific treatments - these are all factors that determine the success (or failure) of digital transformation in the health sector.
Bearing in mind that the health care system applies to almost entire societies, special attention should be paid to UI/UX. The user interface must be as simple and universal as possible. It can be used by both a typical John Doe (of different ages) and a specialist or hospital administration employee. Everything must be as friendly and easy to navigate as possible.
While discussing the most important features of medical applications and technologies with high hopes, we could not help but make a short TOP 5. If you haven't heard about the platforms below, you can be sure that there will be a lot of noise about them soon (unless they are limited to one region of the world, of course). It is worth adding that many well-prepared players fight in the same sector of the medical industry, competing with each other with similar services. However, we tried to choose the most diverse tools (primarily focused on the consumer market).
The development of on-demand telehealth services has significantly accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teladoc is one of the projects that is gaining more and more popularity. The service focuses primarily on minor health problems that can be solved without visiting a doctor at a clinic or hospital. In the United States, the service is already integrated with many insurance plans. After entering the policy data into the application, the patient can check what they can use as part of the purchased set of benefits. Importantly, Teladoc allows doctors to prescribe medicine based on remote advice if they deem it necessary (except for drugs that cannot be prescribed in this way under state regulations).
New technologies make life much easier for people struggling with diabetes. Devices called CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitors) are gaining popularity. Compact medical systems allow you to control blood sugar in more or less real-time thanks to the sensor installed on the abdomen or on the arm. Convenience is one thing, but equally important is the analysis of the results. And this is where the mobile application comes in handy. MySugr provides patients with reports and feedback to help them live with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Users agree that this tool really makes life better with a disease that affects more and more people today.
Many scientists agree that the future of medicine lies in the personalization of research for the individual. After all, we are all different and our bodies react differently to many factors. In this case, the recommendations are based on DNA tests. Interestingly, the data comes from external service providers (23 and ME and Ancestry.com), and the task of the Generis application is to interpret the data. On their basis, personalized advice on physical activity, nutrition, and supplementation is created. Everything happens here in simple steps that guide patients on the path to taking better care of themselves. Generis technology is based on more than 50 DNA markers, and research confirms that proper interpretation of the genetic code can actually help in choosing the right diet or exercise for an individual.
GYANT offers contact with virtual assistants who communicate with patients thanks to artificial intelligence. The tool analyzes the history of treatment, supports self-care, and helps in making the right decisions regarding visits to specialists. A virtual assistant creates a medical card for the patient, which greatly facilitates the work of doctors who later provide advice or contact via the Internet. GYANT artificial intelligence also works well when preparing people for surgery and procedures. Research shows that these algorithms are so advanced that 85% of users are willing to use the service again.
We have reserved the last position on our shortlist for specialists. It is not a tool for patients or people who want to improve their health. DailyRounds is a large academic network currently associating 1.3 million doctors from over 16 countries. Thanks to the application for iOS and Android, they can quickly and conveniently discuss clinical cases with specialists from around the world. In addition to the ability to share knowledge, the platform is updated with the latest articles from medical journals, has a huge database of drugs, ECG records, treatment guidelines for many diseases, and courses for specialists who want to deepen their knowledge.
Finally, a thread that takes up the topic from a slightly different side. Some time ago we had the pleasure of conducting a few interviews about failures in digital transformation. It just so happens that one of our interviewees is extremely close to health innovation. Professor Wendy Chapman who is an Associate Dean of Digital Health and Informatics at the University of Melbourne and Director of the new Center for Digital Transformation of Health drew our attention to a very common problem that many startups have to face. Even the best projects can fail when they are not designed in close cooperation with potential service recipients from the beginning. In the healthcare industry, you should look for potential red flags directly at the source from the beginning of development. It is a big risk to develop projects to be part of a larger system without knowing it thoroughly.
“You can't just plug in the app and start using it right away. It takes a lot of work to make sure that it will work properly in the specified environment. Application developers have to work with health care units from the very beginning of their project development. They must be designed on the basis of specific patients and specific clinical cases. When preparing innovative devices or applications, you have to ask questions about the different reimbursement models from the very beginning.”
The above statement comes from an article prepared as part of our unique series "Failures in Digital Transformation." We encourage you to read all its parts. We have managed to reach unique case studies that show the challenges that await the implementation of projects in various industries. Some of them describe unsuccessful solutions implemented in global corporations that are market leaders. Often the interviewees had to be anonymized for the purposes of the articles. One thing is certain - when we talk about such big players, the possibility of learning from other people's mistakes is of great value! Contrary to appearances, these publications are not only about technological problems but, above all, a lesson in the philosophy of change.
If you liked this article, get ready for the next parts of our series. In a few days, more analyzes of the latest trends will be waiting for you here. Next stop: the FinTech industry.