Doctor using digital health tech trends on iphone
16 August 2018

Health tech trends to watch in 2018

We’re spending more time online in 2018 than ever before. A new report by Ofcom reveals UK adults now spend the equivalent of an entire day every week online with over two hours a day looking at our mobile screens. So, it makes sense that this is reflected in how we choose to look after ourselves too. In this post we’ll review the top health tech trends in 2018.

You don’t have to look far to see evidence of a rise in healthcare tech, just this week Gizmodo released an exclusive look at the new NHS app. In recent research by Venture Scanner, more than 2,000 start-ups were identified to be working on emerging health tech with a whopping $64 billion in VC funding.

Let’s take a look at the key health tech trends in 2018:

 

Online Counselling

How is all that extra time spent online impacting our mental health? Social media tools like Snapchat have even been linked to the rise in cosmetic surgery requests in what’s been called ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’.

A rise in mental health conditions and hard to access resources have fueled a rise in digital counselling apps. In the last four years, searches for apps relating to mental health have increased more than five-fold, by 566% according to a 2018 report by GK Strategy.

As part of the Government’s commitment to improving mental health by 2020/21, it promised to expand access to digital services. In line with commitment and the release of the NHS app, we expect to see a rise in healthcare interactions online.

Digital Doctors

At a time of significant pressure on NHS services, patients are turning to technology to help address everyday health issues. As far back as 2015, 71% of millennials stated that they want to engage with a health professional on their phone. Swapping face-to-face visits for virtual appointments. Apps like Babylon Health are leading the way by providing digital consultation with an NHS GP online and in minutes.

Searches for online GP and prescription services has almost doubled since 2014, increasing by 99%. As the demand for online GP services has increased and so has positive sentiment on social media. Following the widespread adoption of healthcare apps, we expect digital appointments to become the primary method of care. Worldwide, Gartner estimates there will be 8.5 billion more smartphones by 2021. This sharp rise will help democratise access to healthcare around the world and increase take-up.

Medical Drones

Drones have been around for a while. Several industries including trade, photography and transportation already use drones to great effect. But we are still discovering how they can help our communities. They are ideal for long distance travel to even the most remote areas, which makes them the perfect assistant.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are testing an experimental drone in extreme conditions. The tests will determine if this could be the solution to providing healthcare in remote locations or crises.

Similarly work has started to improve existing infrastructure with ‘Ambulance Drones’. Slow response times mean that just 8% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest in Europe survive. This new method of defibrillator delivery claims to be able to increase survival rate to 80%.

AI Diagnosis

The health AI market is experiencing a boom and is expected to reach a value of $6.6 billion by 2021, up from just $600 million in 2014. This relatively new technology is outperforming professionals with years of experience. Check out this Chinese AI system that recently beat a group of elite doctors in a tumour diagnosis competition:

Google’s AI software DeepMind has successfully outperformed doctors at spotting major eye diseases like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy in 3D retinal scans. UK clinical trials are now being planned and patients can expect see it in the NHS within three years.

3D Printed Prosthesis

3D printed prosthetic limbs are changing lives around the world and companies like Open Bionics are leading the way.

Producing prostheses in this way is around 30 times cheaper than other solutions on the market so it has the potential to make state of the art tech accessible to all. When you consider that the NHS spends more than £60 million per year on prosthetic services it could rapidly improve access to high-quality prosthesis across the UK.

Wearable Health Monitors

Most of us have tried on a Fitbit or Jawbone style wearable that tracks everything from heart rate to steps. The next generation of wearables is smaller, accurate and much more powerful.

Worldwide, there are 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer each year. Wearable tech, like iTBra, is changing the likelihood of early detection and reducing the need for invasive and expensive procedures.

At the University of Texas, scientists are developing ultrathin graphene health tech monitors. The health monitors are less bulky than those currently on the market and transmit directly to a smartphone app.

As scientists find new ways of applying and attaching micro-wearables, we predict to see a clear rise in use.

Getting ahead of these trends and creating innovative solutions that meet the needs of patients and healthcare providers is key to success. Which health tech trends are you focusing on?

 

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