Top Digital Health Trends In 2019 – The Medical Futurist


2019 shapes up to be the best year for digital
health yet. From a global FDA, to A.I. in hospitals, let’s
take a look at what we wish to see this year. Here are the major trends that we look forward
to. National digital health strategies While technological development soars, healthcare
systems around the globe struggle with unsustainability, and a shortage of medical professionals. Digital Health is the only viable way forward
and we would like to see more and more countries catching up. Denmark is already building a robust digital
system for medical records and empowers e-patients with more focus on prevention. New Zealand’s strategy focuses on patients
as the point-of-care. And a small African country, Rwanda, is building
their healthcare system so wisely, that digital health startups are swarming the region, and
the newest technological marvels are rolled out nation-wide almost instantly. Only six countries have some sort of digital
health strategy, but we would like to see more and more governments to develop their
own in the new year. Cross-border cooperation It’s going to be a slow process, but we
hope to see the beginnings of borderless healthcare. Transnationalization can enable treatments
outside the national healthcare systems. Just imagine a French patient sending a tissue
of his tumor to a Belgian company specializing in precision diagnostics. They establish that a Swiss pharma company
has the exact type of clinical trial that the patient could use, so he gets healed by
the joint efforts of numerous healthcare systems. It was unimaginable before. But with well-developed digital health tools,
it can become a reality. Discussions about a global FDA With cross-border cooperation comes the question
of oversight. We already see the demand for a regulatory
organization that goes beyond borders. Every day, there are more and more ethical
and legal challenges, like gene editing in China and genetic big data in the West. The emergence of some sort of a global FDA
seems inevitable. Medical chatbots aiding medical professionals 2019 could see the rise of health chatbots. Britain’s National Health Service already
used a chatbot for a trial period to reduce the burden on its non-emergency helplines. Unfortunately, the first experiences were
mixed. Patients didn’t trust the system and they
were able to play it to get an appointment with their doctor quicker. But as these bots develop, and patients embrace
digital health, the bots will be able to take off the burden on medical professionals when
it comes to easily diagnosable health concerns or quickly solvable health management issues. Cars become the point of care When it comes to the future of healthcare,
this is not something you would say from the top of your mind, but cars could be one of
our most valuable diagnostic devices. Mercedes already has cars that are able to
tell if a driver has become too tired to drive. And they’re aiming to arm their cars with
more and more health sensors. The seat belt, the steering wheel or practically
anything the driver might touch, can be used as a biometric sensor to gain information. They could help detect a drop in blood sugar
or even an impending heart attack. We’d like to see more car manufacturers
think this progressively. An FDA approved bioprinted tissue The San Diego-based company, Organovo is focusing
on the technology of 3D printing biomaterials. They have successfully bio-printed liver tissues
in 2014 and they seem to be years away from printing liver parts for transplantation. Based on their announcements we already expected
last year that their first bioprinted products are expected to make it to the FDA in 2019,
and we already saw a lot of regulatory discussions about 3D bioprinting – these will continue
more intensively into the new year. A smart alarm revolution There are tons of wearables, sleep sensors
and sleep apps out there. Even fitness trackers can follow your sleep. But the Holy Grail of health tracking is the
smart sleep alarm. Since we sleep in cycles, we can feel completely
groggy or fully rested depending on where we are in the cycle at the time of waking
up. But Smart Alarm analyzes your sleep and wakes
you up at just the right time. A few days ago, I realized that the Fitbit
Ionic has a smart sleep alarm feature, I tried it and it works wonders. I hope that the rest of the sleep tracker
manufacturers will also pull it together, and in a few years, when we look back, we
won’t even understand how we could torture ourselves by waking up to a regular alarm
clock. A.I. based algorithms and services approved
by the FDA As wearables and innovative digital health
technologies swarm our lives and our hospitals, we have access to more health data than ever. And with A.I. we have the ability to process
them and gain insight that was unimaginable before. A.I. applications will help us with faster
and more accurate medical diagnosis; and cheaper, more effective R&D. IBM has already taken the first steps. Watson launched a special program for oncologists
which is able to provide clinicians with evidence based treatment options. Deep-learning and machine learning is ready
to take healthcare by storm and we hope we’ll see a flock of approvals in the near future
as A.I finally enters our lives. Big Tech in Big Pharma We’ve talked a lot about how Silicon Valley
is looking into healthcare as their next big undertaking. Apple focuses on its consumer products to
turn them into medical-monitoring devices. Amazon is building on its logistics and distribution
savvy to sell prescription drugs and medical supplies online. Google, as a pioneer in AI research, is betting
on the analysis of big data. And even Uber wants to replace ambulances. Healthcare is a 3 trillion dollar pie in the
US alone, and it’s ripe for disruption. These companies have clearly stated that they
want a piece of that pie, and they have the ability to radically change healthcare for
the better. Expect to hear more from them in the future. I hope you enjoyed this list about our expectations
for 2019, and that you’re just as excited about them as we are. If you’d like to hear more about these topics,
you can find my new Ebook on Leanpub.

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