The course of technology-driven change has been diverted this year because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While the largest drivers of change are nonetheless AI (artificial intelligence), the IOT (internet of things), and different fourth industrial revolution fields, their impact was felt in several ways than we may have anticipated at the beginning of the year.
Nowhere is that this more true than in healthcare. The focus of superior analysis throughout drugs, vaccines, social care, and environmental well being has shifted to tackling the ongoing disaster. And each key trend, from biotechnology and good drugs to digital and augmented actuality, smart cities, digital twinning, and robotics, have had their part to play.
Here are my prime 5 predictions for a way it will continue to play out all through 2021. As new vaccines and treatments provide a glimmer of hope that normality of some kind might resume, breakthroughs enabled by the accelerated pace of innovation we’ve seen this yr will higher equip us to face new challenges.
Healthcare a consideration in each aspect of life
In 2020, each firm has needed to turn into a tech firm as data and computing have turn into important to every thing we do. In 2021, each firm will be taught to turn into a healthcare firm, too, as safeguarding workers and prospects turns into a core requirement of doing enterprise.
This will embody enhanced biosecurity measures from sanitization stations to on-premises screening technology and quarantine measures at areas the place employees are required on-site and can’t work at home. Tech-driven innovation round it will carry us improved security measures and early-warning techniques to reduce the chance of contagious diseases being handed around.
For some corporations, it will nonetheless be safer for employees to stay remote going into 2021 and probably all year long. Here, there can be different challenges, akin to a have to assist the mental well being of employees as they juggle residence and work duties. Without every day face-to-face contact, will probably be tougher for managers to evaluate whether their groups are overworked or taking the best precautions to safeguard their well being. Once again, technology will play its half in mitigating these risks, from well being apps that monitor our exercise and remind us to take breaks and train, meditation and mindfulness apps, and distant therapeutic companies.
Virtual care and distant drugs
If it is possible to obtain the identical level of care at residence as you would from a go to to a physician’s surgery or outpatient clinic, then certainly it makes sense to do so? Particularly for minor and routine appointments, the number of digital visits have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic and is predicted by Forrester analysts to hit one billion by the end of 2020. It’s additionally thought that during 2021 one third of digital care appointments can be associated to psychological well being issues.
As nicely as decreasing the risk of spreading contagion, remote drugs permits medical professionals to squeeze more patient consultations into their busy schedules. This is a very important consideration in extremely populated countries akin to China and India, the place doctors are in brief supply.
Another side of this trend would be the ongoing improvement of robotic and autonomous healthcare assistants able to working in hospitals or proper in individuals properties. These will reduce the chance of infection (a big drawback in hospitals even before Covid). These even have psychological well being implications — companion robots are being launched into care houses within the UK; they have been discovered to achieve success at decreasing signs of loneliness and social isolation.
Genomics and gene modifying result in additional breakthroughs
Gene editing allows us to affect particular traits which are inherited by new residing cells, when new proteins are created by the division of present cells. These traits, known as phenotypes, govern the cell’s longevity, its capability to outlive towards damage or sickness, and lots of different components. By manipulating these phenotypes via techniques similar to CRISPR-Cas9, scientists have already made many advances in treatments of killer illnesses, together with Duchenne muscular Dystrophy, coronary heart illness, and cancer.
Due to breakthroughs on this area, we’re more likely to see accelerated improvement of forms of remedy known as “precision medicine,” where medicine could be custom-made to match the genetic profile of individual patients, making them more practical, in addition to much less more likely to cause undesirable side-effects.
The technology has additionally been used to create a “lab on a chip,” designed for quick detection of coronavirus infection. A handheld device able to detecting if persons are contaminated, with out having to depend on inaccurate indicators akin to coughing or a temperature, may very well be hugely useful in returning a stage of normality to our lives.
And looking past medical use instances, strategies demonstrated by on UK startup, Tropic Biosciences, have been used to create caffeine-free espresso beans, decreasing the price and sources spent decaffeinating common beans. They have additionally created disease-resistant bananas, which may transform a business that presently spends a quarter of its manufacturing prices preventing illness.
Data and AI drives shift to fairer healthcare insurance and coverage
The progress within the quantity of data collected on our well being, from our interaction with well being companies in addition to our personal devices and on-line activities, means suppliers have an increasingly accurate image of where and when intervention may be needed.
The coronavirus pandemic has proven us that there’s a willingness to share our personal data when the advantages to our well being are clearly communicated. This has been confirmed by track-and-trace techniques which have reliably stored an infection ranges in verify in some areas (although much less so in others).
This can be significantly essential from a financial viewpoint. The coronavirus pandemic has been pricey for the healthcare business, with revenues falling by 50% within the US because of patients avoiding hospitals and surgeries. This will result in an elevated reliance on AI-driven prediction instruments to forecast where resources can be used most effectively. Insurance providers will even step up their use of superior predictive technology to raised perceive risk and extra precisely set premiums.
AI, IoT, and Smart Cities enhance our means to detect and reply to future outbreaks
“Smart cities” is a term used to explain the idea of constructing digital connectivity and automatic data-driven decisioning into the material of urban life, together with planning public transport networks, power distribution, refuse collection, and environmental well being initiatives. AI and IoT are elementary to many initiatives on this area.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the focus of good metropolis innovation has switched towards planning and managing the best way rising numbers of individuals will live in ever-closer proximity to one another. This is a specific problem in growing nations where urban populations proceed to develop — the UN predicts 68% of the world’s inhabitants will dwell in urban areas by 2050.