For all its ills, Covid-19 has supercharged consumerism in the U.S. healthcare system, providing tantalizing opportunities for businesses interested in lowering healthcare costs and increasing access to quality medical care.
Speaking at the recent CB Insights conference Conference on the future of healthcare, Deepa Varadharajan, chief analyst at the New York-based research and analysis firm, explained that consumers can expect improved access and better quality of healthcare. health, in addition to reducing costs – thanks to artificial intelligence stimulated by the coronavirus.
More than 170 startups are driving “anytime and anywhere of care,” Varadharajan said, noting that she expects the trend to continue. Besides providing a growth industry for those working on improving AI, improving accessibility and lowering the cost of care could make the lives of time-pressed workers much more convenient, especially whether technology reduces the time it takes to see a doctor or get a test.
Here are the five trends shared by CB Insights that are affecting healthcare:
1. Bridging the gap between virtual and in-person care
Telehealth tours are praised for their convenience, but a major limitation with virtual tours arises when it comes to manual reviews. For obvious reasons, a doctor cannot virtually perform a physical exam, which limits a patient’s full assessment, at least for now.
Enter report monitoring devices. Digital health company Eko offers AI-powered stethoscopes as well as a portable EKG, a test that assesses a person’s heart health. For example, a patient can broadcast their heart and lung sounds live to their doctor during a virtual visit.
Together, the tools, which are proliferating after the pandemic proves an increased need for virtual care, bring the medical field closer to completely remote exams that complement in-person visits.
2. Expanding the accessibility of laboratory tests for patients
The pandemic is normalizing rapid home Covid-19 tests, and this could deepen other home diagnostic tests. Remote clinical testing company Healthy.io uses computer vision, artificial intelligence, and colorimetric analysis so that patients can perform home urinary tract infection tests or an annual urine test. Varadharajan expects artificial intelligence to gradually overtake third-party labs, at least for certain types of testing.
3. Reduce radiology costs
Artificial intelligence not only makes radiology faster, it also reduces the costs associated with expensive scans and other imaging. This is in part through the use of AI-assisted computed tomography (CT), which has gained popularity for diagnosing Covid-induced pneumonia.
But looking to the next wave of artificial intelligence suggests that AI will go beyond diagnostics to improve the patient experience, Varadharajan says. This could result in faster magnetic reasoning imaging (MRI). In collaboration with the New York School of Medicine, Facebook is working to improve MRI scans and aims to create new methods to speed up the scanning process. Varadharajan explains that hour-long tours can drop to just 15 minutes. And reducing the time a patient spends in an imaging device that emits radiation, such as x-rays, can significantly reduce exposure.
4. Imagine computer vision
Another unintended benefit of the pandemic is that computer vision is making inroads into specialist care. With computer vision, which is a form of AI where computers learn to recognize and interpret visuals, areas such as physiotherapy, where patients rely almost exclusively on the direction of a physiotherapist, now see the promise of making virtual connections.
But as long as a patient is armed with a smartphone camera, they can now access care almost anywhere. Kaia Health, a digital therapy company in the musculoskeletal space based in New York and Munich, uses computer vision for movement and posture tracking that provides patients with real-time feedback on their exercises. And DentalMonitoring, based in Austin, Texas, provides AI-powered technology to dentists and orthodontists, which the company says can reduce the need or frequency of in-person follow-ups.
5. Deployment of passive surveillance technology
Apple Watches and Fitbits are some of the more classic examples of wearable devices, but the evolving wearable space is crowded. Too many options can become overwhelming for consumers who have to track different devices, charge them, and monitor the separate apps their devices use.
But passive AI monitoring technology can disrupt the wearable device space by providing technology that doesn’t require patients to wear a device around the clock. When Google entered sleep and well tracking -being with his smartphone, his mantra was: “nothing to wear or not to forget to charge”.
One more recent approach to monitor patients, non-contact home monitoring systems are used, which can track sleep activities and patent breathing using a sensor.
“Big tech and startups are innovating here in the area of passive surveillance, and as this technology takes off, we will be moving towards more proactive intervention, especially in elderly and acute care settings,” said Varadharajan.