In 2023, the U.S. spent a projected $4.7 trillion on healthcare, equating to 18% of the national economy. This vital yet complex service is often confined by its own limitations, such as accessibility, affordability, and inefficiencies.
Rising healthcare costs and longer lifespans are drastically affecting how the healthcare industry operates. Growing numbers of patients seeking care often encounter shortages of available qualified healthcare professionals to meet these needs.
Technology plays a huge role in managing health and tracking and storing health information. Looking ahead to 2024, there are several health care topics and trends to know about. Keep reading below to discover more info.
AI Healthcare Trends
AI is impacting health care topics in a big way. When utilized properly, AI can help fill in the care gaps of modern healthcare and become a valuable tool.
For one, AI virtual assistants can provide patients with information, answer queries, and offer support. This can be especially crucial for managing chronic conditions while also enhancing patient engagement.
Healthcare chatbots powered by AI can assist in areas like appointment scheduling and medication reminders for a better overall patient experience. They can also provide general health information, which can enhance patient accessibility.
AI can even assist in diagnostic efforts. AI algorithms analyze medical imagery such as:
- Ultrasounds and Sonography
- DXA (bone density)
- CT scans
The high accuracy of AI algorithms can be used as a diagnostic tool. It can aid healthcare professionals in early-stage disease detection like cancer. This makes the job of a diagnostic medical sonography technician easier and much more accurate.
Internet of Medical Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) commonly refers to a network of connected devices. What was once relegated to uses like smart TVs, smart cars, and smart kitchen appliances is now branching out into the healthcare industry.
This area is referred to as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). A simpler way to describe the IoMT is by using an example like a fitness tracker. This is commonly known as a wearable device.
Wearables like fitness trackers are ideal for managing health outside of the doctor’s office. They can be set up to automatically send important health information, like a patient’s heart rate, to a healthcare professional’s office.
Another example is a wearable glucose monitor and insulin pump for diabetics. These innovative pieces of equipment can track glucose levels throughout the day and alert patients when it’s time for another dose.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges to an already overturned healthcare system. Many healthcare professionals like vocational nurses and patient care technicians, were thrown for a loop navigating this unprecedented event.
But one thing the pandemic did do right was highlight the usefulness of telemedicine. Although it had its bugs to work out in the beginning, telemedicine became a way for patients to access care safely through a secure video chat portal.
Telemedicine visits cut down on the need for in-office visits. Patients could still access their healthcare professionals remotely. This reduced the risk of further virus exposure, especially for those with compromised immune systems.
According to the AMA, the percentage of telehealth visits grew from just 14% in 2016 to 80% in 2022. So, in 2024, it is likely that telemedicine will continue to expand and grow in use.
Digital Healthcare Information and Analysis
The healthcare industry is getting more and more high-tech every day. This applies not only to medical diagnostic tools but also to the way patient records are kept, stored, and accessed.
Health care topics like patient records are a big part of effectively managing health information. The days of outdated paper charts are a thing of the past. Now electronic health records (EHRs) must be used for accessibility and security.
Incorporating a digital records system helps decrease the likelihood of human error. This is because these systems actively check patient data for accuracy. They may even be able to detect any potentially harmful side effects or interactions in a patient’s medication records.
The blockchain isn’t just for strong and tracking cryptocurrency. It also has its uses within the modern healthcare industry. The blockchain’s security and traceability make it well-suited for data like:
- electronic medical records
- remote patient monitoring
- pharmaceutical supply chains
- health insurance claims
- smart contracts for payments and billing
Blockchain technology offers a tamper-resistant and secure way to store patient data. Timestamps create a transparent record that cannot be altered. It also offers patients the ability to grant permission for their records to be shared with the proper healthcare providers while allowing them to maintain ownership.
A blockchain can even aid in identity management. The secure and decentralized structure of the blockchain verifies the identity of patients and healthcare professionals. This prevents identity theft and ensures accurate patient IDs.
Immersive Tech Trends
Immersive tech healthcare trends are the wave of the future. Like stepping into a real-life episode of Star Trek or The Jetsons, what was once science fiction is now a reality. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are two of the most common methods.
Surgeons and other healthcare professionals can use AR tools to visualize tumors more completely during surgeries. While VR use in healthcare can vary from physical rehabilitation to cognitive therapy.
For example, VR is currently being utilized to help manage chronic pain in some medical settings. Using VR headsets allows patients who are normally limited in their day-to-day activities to experience virtual worlds. It also uses methods like CBT in tandem to teach them how to reduce this pain.
Wherever we go we likely have our phones on us. So, why not make these essential items a part of managing health as well? Mobile Health, also called mHealth, is another one of the top health care topics in 2024 and beyond.
Mobile phones are already used for health and wellness apps. These apps help patients manage areas of their health like fitness, nutrition, medication adherence, and mental well-being. These apps empower individuals to take an active role in their health and well-being.
mHealth also enables real-time monitoring of patients’ health using wearable devices and sensors. They can track this data continuously and stay on top of managing their health. Implanted devices like pacemakers can even transmit this data directly to healthcare providers so that they can monitor vital signs for any abnormalities.
3-D Printing Technology
The ability to 3-D print has been one of the biggest health care topics for quite some time. But in 2024, the uses for 3-D printing technology are likely to grow even more. Some hospitals and healthcare centers have the ability to print custom lightweight yet sturdy casts for fractures on-site.
3-D printing even permits healthcare professionals to print out prosthetics that are a fraction of the cost of traditional prosthetic pieces. These prosthetics are often much lighter and have a more natural movement to them.
The advancements of 3-D technology in the healthcare industry have even gone as far as giving doctors the ability to grow and print pieces of organs containing the patient’s own DNA. This means a faulty heart valve can be replaced with a perfect replica that matches the patient’s genetic code.
Cloud computing is an essential element of the healthcare industry. Saving data in the cloud gives healthcare professionals the ability to store mass quantities of data without worrying about space restrictions. This data is also accessible from an access portal and isn’t stored on one central server or computer.
A cloud computing system is easily scalable, which means that it grows or shrinks to meet your unique needs. For instance, at the start of the new year, your medical practice may see an influx in new patient registrations. A cloud-based computing system can grow to accommodate these new patients with ease.
Using cloud computing also facilitates collaborative efforts. Records can be shared among verified users with the proper login credentials. This streamlines and enhances patient care.
Medicine is often seen as a system of trial and error. If a patient tries a medication and has a bad reaction, it’s back to the drawing board. The patient keeps trying new medications and treatments until they find one that sticks.
But this process can be time-consuming, costly, and dangerous. A patient could find out the hard way that they have a severe allergy to a particular medication they didn’t know they had. Without quick medical intervention, it could be fatal.
Personalized medicine is different. It relies on genetic testing to see if a patient may have an aversion to specific medications right in their genetic code. Healthcare specialists can then formulate a more precise course of action that’s tailored to each patient and doesn’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Health Care Topics at Healthcare Career College Today
There are so many interesting health care topics and healthcare trends to keep an eye on in 2024. There’s also a need for skilled and highly-trained healthcare professionals. If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in the fast-paced and innovative healthcare industry, Healthcare Career College is the place for you.
Healthcare Career College can put you on the path to success. Complete a Vocational Nurse training program in just 14 months or become a Phlebotomy Technician in 6 weeks. Take advantage of small classes and affordable tuition.
Looking for more information? Book an information session with us today.