To this day, advancements in technology maintain their upward trajectory without showing any signs of slowing down. Naturally, the advancements brought about by technological exploration and related efforts have transformed numerous sectors, healthcare included.

Jiang Yumin, Senior Manager of Innovation & Technology at IPI, says, “Disruptive technology has fundamentally reshaped the healthcare industry by enabling access to groundbreaking treatments for previously untreatable conditions and dramatically improving operational efficiencies. This transformation not only enhances patient care but also heralds a new era of medical innovation and global health improvement. Moreover, it has significantly extended both lifespan and health span for individuals worldwide, ensuring a higher quality of life and longer, healthier living. Through the integration of preventive care and precision medicine, technology empowers proactive health management and tailored treatment strategies, revolutionising our approach to wellness and disease."

Disruptive technology or disruptive innovation, is defined as any application of a technology that revolutionises how the industry functions. Some examples of the most prominent disruptive innovations in healthcare include the introduction of walk-in clinics, AI integration in medical diagnosis, e-commerce healthcare delivery systems, and clinical decision support systems (CDSS).

While technology has already transformed the healthcare industry significantly, the adoption of innovations is still slow and often hindered by various factors such as governance and regulatory challenges. Nevertheless, when disruptive innovations finally achieve widespread adoption, they shift paradigms and establish new, more efficient ways to support patients. Below, we look at disruptive technologies in the pipeline that will soon take the healthcare industry to greater heights.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning

The healthcare sector has embraced AI adoption to enhance the availability, quality, and effectiveness of patient care. The adoption of AI in healthcare for prevention and treatment represents a transformative shift towards more personalised and efficient care.

Predictive Analytics for Early Detection: AI algorithms are increasingly used to analyse vast datasets, including electronic health records, genetic information, and lifestyle factors, to predict the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. By identifying at-risk individuals early, healthcare providers can implement preventative measures, significantly reducing the progression of these conditions.

AI-Enabled Diagnostic Tools: AI-driven diagnostic tools, such as deep learning models that analyse medical imaging, have shown remarkable accuracy in detecting diseases at earlier stages than previously possible. For example, AI tools can analyse CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs, to identify signs of diseases such as breast cancer, lung nodules, and brain tumours with high precision, often surpassing the diagnostic accuracy of human experts.

Personalised Treatment Plans: AI systems are being developed to tailor treatment plans to the individual patient, considering their unique genetic makeup, lifestyle, and disease progression. This approach, often referred to as precision medicine, allows for more effective and targeted therapies, reducing side effects and improving outcomes. For example, AI algorithms can predict how a patient will respond to various cancer treatments, enabling oncologists to choose the most effective therapy.

AI offers an invaluable layer of decision support that helps mitigate errors and improve the confidence of healthcare professionals when dealing with complex medical diagnoses and treatments. Studies have already demonstrated that leveraging AI for medical diagnoses can boost patient outcomes. According to a paper by Frost & Sullivan, these outcomes saw an increase of 30-40% while simultaneously cutting treatment costs by up to 50%.

Beyond that, many healthcare companies deploy AI to improve their product offerings. For instance, Google's DeepMind collaborated with Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in the UK. DeepMind developed an AI-powered tool capable of analysing eye scans for signs of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, conditions that can lead to blindness if left untreated. As a result, it significantly streamlined the diagnostic process, enabling faster treatment decisions and potentially preventing vision loss in thousands of patients.

Dexcom, a renowned manufacturer of continuous glucose monitoring devices, uses AI to improve its products' accuracy in glucose readings to help patients understand and make informed decisions on managing their diabetes risks.

Wearable and Remote Monitoring Technologies

Wearable and remote monitoring technologies are not just making waves in the tech industry but also in the healthcare sector. The ability to monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, and various patient health data - physical activity, sleep patterns, and so on - is incredibly useful beyond just staying on top of one's fitness and physical well-being. This technology shines in its capability to help patients who have chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases to track and monitor their health in real time to receive effective and timely medical treatment.  For example, this remote physio and occupational therapy platform can facilitate post-stroke recovery for timely and adequate rehabilitation.

While it seems like wearable technology is new to the healthcare sector, the truth is that they are hardly new concepts. Pacemakers and glucose monitors for diabetics were some of the earliest types of wearable technology that have become a mainstay in medical treatment. Recent advancements in wearable devices bring greater benefits, from simplifying therapeutic procedures to minimising the risk of infections. As wearable devices continue to evolve, they could potentially transform healthcare once more by offering greater possibilities for personalised patient care.

Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology is revolutionising healthcare in many ways, from enabling higher-quality medicine to developing patient-centric hospital networks. As a refresher, blockchain is essentially a decentralised digital ledger of transactions that records data in a way that prevents it from getting hacked or altered by duplicating and dispersing said transactions into ‘nodes’ across the network.

One key application of blockchain in healthcare is its role as a platform for blockchain-based decentralised application development. This feature can aid in resolving one of the many pressing challenges the healthcare industry faces: the inability to safely retrieve and manage personal health information (PHI) promptly. Effective retrieval and management of such data would empower healthcare providers to get a holistic view of a patient's health, which may enhance patient-physician interaction and better use of healthcare-related data.

But whenever data is involved, privacy and security threats will always be a concern. The rise in security breaches and cybersecurity attacks involving healthcare records as of late has renewed the pressing need for healthcare organisations to invest in more advanced security technologies. This is where blockchain technology comes in as a disruptive innovation that paves the way for potentially solving serious data security, privacy, and integrity issues in healthcare.

Technology will continue to play an indispensable role in the future of healthcare as the industry explores its untapped potential in streamlining processes and achieving better patient care. Digital innovation services will undoubtedly be pivotal in this endeavour as they promote new solutions and ways to enhance the efficiency, accessibility, and quality of healthcare services to create a more patient-centric, cost-effective, and sustainable healthcare system.

For more information, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] to explore the available curated health tech solutions at IPI or embark on technology scouting service to source the best-fit healthcare technologies for your business.