From EMRs to AI: How technology has transformed healthcare since 1950.

Since the early 1900s, Canada’s life expectancy has risen from 47 years for men and 50 years for women to an average of just over 80 years, an increase of more than 60% over the course of a century. From immunization to the Internet of Things (IoT), advances in medical technology, science, and research mean that we can now largely manage once-common diseases, streamline and enable access to healthcare, and transform outcomes for patients.

The effect of rising patient expectations.

From Amazon’s overnight deliveries to Starbucks’ mobile orders, new technology continues to address growing customer demands across industries. In retail, banking, hospitality and healthcare, modern consumers expect technology to deliver convenient service and improve access to necessary information. And it’s really just the beginning — technology is evolving at breakneck pace.

However, digital transformation in healthcare can seem less obvious, especially if you walk into the average doctor’s office. After all, healthtech takes a long time to develop, test, get approved and implemented. And there’s still more work required to get industry leaders on board while remaining focused on top priorities, like patient privacy and data security. That’s likely why only 52% of American healthcare firms have a digital program as part of their business strategy, compared to 72% of financial services firms and retailers.

That doesn’t mean that technology isn’t a huge part of the health industry. In fact, if wearables, EMRs and virtual care are any indication, we’re looking forward to an exciting future where digital healthcare can empower patients to take control of their own health, increase quality of life and limit chronic illness, while connecting providers in the circle of care. When it comes to technology in the healthcare industry, we’ve come a long way.

Take a look at some healthtech milestones.

What to expect for 2020 and beyond?

Whether to improve access to information, increase knowledge or provide life-saving diagnoses and treatment, digital technology remains a growing part of modern healthcare—and further innovation is happening right here in Canada. The BC-led Digital Technology Supercluster, for instance, is developing precision health analytics to develop effective, safe medications and doses that can be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

Here are some other healthtech advancements Canadians can expect to see in the near future:

  • E-records and interconnectedness: Expect EMRs combined with e-health check-ups and online forums between patients and doctors to improve access to health information.
  • AI to improve decision-making: Data-driven decision-making could significantly improve patient outcomes through early diagnosis. Doctors will increasingly use AI and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) to analyze data, reveal patterns and identify issues for intervention. The IoT healthcare market is slated to reach $137B worldwide by 2021.
  • 3D printed organs: As technology evolves, the 3D production of joints, prosthetics and implants will increase. Plus, look for the use of “bio printers” as a way to generate artificial organs.
  • Augmented reality (AR) in surgery: From medical schools to operating rooms, AR could provide an excellent way to help doctors and trainees visualize and interact with 3D representations of the human body.

Innovations like these may have seemed like science fiction only a few years ago, but today, we usher in a new era of healthcare that empowers patients, enables physicians and streamlines communications. As we reach this critical next phase, it’s important to look back and acknowledge the progress that brought us here.

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