Top Australian Healthcare Tech trends to watch in 2018
Digital and mobile technologies are providing the foundation for many emerging healthcare innovations that are disrupting the Australian healthcare market. To keep pace with this continuous transformation, healthcare operators will need to embrace new technologies to improve health outcomes, be cost effective and provide timely care.
Venture Insights' five key trends to watch out for in the A$170bn Australian healthcare sector in 2018.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will see broader adoption across the healthcare ecosystem and in particular across diagnostics, pathology and radiology.
Blockchain technology will see more user trials announced and acceptance among healthcare operators in the patient identity and records management segments as patients demand greater control over their health data.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will emerge as a key component of the healthcare ecosystem with healthcare operators investing in IoMT enabled medical devices that focus on medical testing, monitoring and diagnostics.
Smart Hospitals will see strong interest from hospital operators driven by the increasing digitalisation of the healthcare value chain and by the growing need to have a more patient-focused approached towards healthcare.
Robotics in Healthcare will see increasing adoption among medical and aged-care facilities as new use cases emerge across a range of operational functions in the healthcare value chain.
While technology is expanding exponentially and its cost plummeting, the demand and cost of healthcare is rising which is challenging for almost every healthcare operator in Australia. Even though the need to embrace technology to tackle these challenges seems obvious, the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt new technologies. However, this is gradually changing and new technologies are fast emerging that are giving rise to new processes, platforms and products that are changing the way healthcare is provided and received. The rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Blockchain technologies will only accelerate this trend. This report highlights our top five Australian healthcare technology trends to watch in 2018.
Top Health Technology Trends 2018
1) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
The increasing adoption of digital health technologies is giving rise to an unprecedented amount of data, which will only intensify with advances in these technologies and in turn generate millions of data points for every individual. AI and ML speeds up processing of healthcare data by leaps and bounds above what is humanly possible, and also do it more efficiently. AI has significant applications in diagnosis as well. Google’s AI arm DeepMind Health is partnering with clinicians and researchers to build learning algorithms that replicate the human brain’s neural patterns. The aim is to eliminate cognitive biases while analysing complex data.
In Australia, one of the startups included in the CSIRO's accelerator program is focused on AI for gut disorders - the Noisy Guts Project is developing an acoustic belt that records and use AI and ML algorithms to analyse gut noises for doctors to identify disorders. Queensland's Inala Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Centre has developed machine learning systems to detect retinopathy. In a recently conducted survey by Australia's leading not-for-profit health fund HCF, more than 80% of Australians indicated that they are ready to embrace AI to diagnose common health problems and interpret test results. In 2018, we expect more AI and ML healthcare focused use cases to emerge and we expect a rise in AI adoption across healthcare operators in the diagnostics, pathology and radiology segments.
2) Blockchain and Healthcare
At its core blockchain is a distributed ledger system that is used to store and record transaction records. The increasing volume of healthcare data that is being generated from wearables and sensors is giving rise to new challenges such as interoperability, data integrity and security. Blockchain technology has the potential to solve these challenges by placing the patient at the centre of the healthcare ecosystem and significantly improve the security. privacy and interoperability of healthcare data.
In Australia, Blockchain in healthcare is still very nascent. The Garvan Institute announced it is investigating whether blockchain technology can be used to help citizens obtain more control over their health data. Garvan has recently signed an MoU with E-Nome driving the application of blockchain technology to the secure storage of health records.
More recently, an Australian start-up, ScalaMed, launched an innovative patent-protected method that encrypts patients’ prescription data, transports it to ScalaMed’s e-prescription blockchain service through secure APIs, and then makes the prescription directly available to the patient via an app. In 2018, as patients look to gain more control over their healthcare data, we expect more healthcare operators to trial and/or adopt blockchain technology especially in the patient identity and record management space.
3) Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
IoMT refers to a connected infrastructure of medical devices, sensors, software applications and healthcare IT systems. Globally, IoMT is estimated to be a US$72bn market by 2021 growing at a CAGR of 26.2% (2016-21). With increasing smartphone penetration and emerging technological innovations in healthcare, including portable biosensors, computing advances and wearable devices, advancements in IoMT technologies are transforming the healthcare industry and in particular the medical equipment and diagnostics segment. In Australia, Griffith University, Huawei Australia and Tonwo Health Clinic Technology have collaborated to develop NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) chips, which will be commercially available from February 2018. The chips are aimed at helping patients better manage their health conditions, such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes by continuously transmitting data to various healthcare systems. Telstra Health has introduced its IoT enabled digital health platform which uses multiple sensors to monitor and analyse patient data.
In 2018, we expect to see further investments by healthcare operators into development of IoT-enabled medical devices with a focus on medical testing, monitoring and diagnostics. We also expect the implementation of IoT enabled inventory management systems in hospitals to double over the next two years.
4) Smart Healthcare and Hospitals
A smart hospital is a hospital that relies on a connected infrastructure of smart medical devices to improve existing patient care and introduce new capabilities. Smart hospitals have been gaining in popularity driven by the growing need to have a more patient-focused approach to the delivery of healthcare. Smart hospitals are all about transforming patient data into insight and acting on that insight.
The smart hospital concept involves collecting data, using AI and ML to analyse the data and then making these insights available to clinicians and other stakeholders through multiple devices such as desktops, smartphones and tablets. In Australia, the Royal Adelaide Hospital is leading the transformation to become a smart hospital. In 2018, we expect to see a strong interest in smart hospitals from hospital operators (both public and private) as hospitals focus on their digitalisation efforts.
5) Robotics in Healthcare
Medical robotics technology has been growing in popularity and has the potential to completely revolutionise how we deliver healthcare. While robotics has been used extensively in surgeries since the early 2000s, robotics technology is fast expanding across the healthcare value chain. Robotic medical assistants can monitor patient vital signs and alert medical staff when is need for a human presence in the room. They can also be used to disinfect patient rooms and operating environments, reducing risk of infections for patients and clinicians. Robotics also has the potential to assist in other areas of healthcare and could be used to diagnose a range of health conditions. In Australia, robots developed by
Australian owned Lamson Group is one of the leading players in the robotics space. It has successfully developed an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) RoboCourier that can navigate crowded corridors and laboratory or pharmacy departments, and deliver a range of payloads from bulk laboratory samples and specimens to pharmacy supplies, surgical equipment and medical records. It is currently deployed across a range of hospitals including the Royal North Shore Hospital, the Bendigo Hospital, the new Perth Children’s Hospital and the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital, and in many aged care facilities across NSW.
In 2018, we expect more hospitals and aged care facilities to integrate robotics into their operational workflows. We also expect more robotics trials to be announced as new user cases emerge.