Digital Trends in Healthcare Technology: What Comes Next in 2024?

The year 2023 marked a significant turning point for the digital trends in healthcare, with digital transformation, telehealth, and generative AI at the forefront of this revolutionary wave.

While these innovations emerge as potential answers for numerous roadblocks holding healthcare back, they also present a harsh reality check. A sputtering global economy will make it harder for healthcare organizations to adopt emerging technologies.

Let’s take a quick look at some key digital trends in healthcare technology in 2024 and where they fit with your organization.

1. Artificial Intelligence Takes Center Stage in 2024 Healthcare

The excitement surrounding the use of AI in healthcare continues to grow, and generative AI is gradually integrating into our daily practices. Healthcare executives consider that generative AI holds promise in tackling many of the industry’s most taxing challenges, such as improving health equity, reducing patient wait times, streamlining claims processes, and addressing staff burnout. AI has the potential to completely transform the delivery of healthcare services.

Artificial Intelligence Takes Center Stage in 2024 Healthcare

Moreover, LLM (large language models) integration also shows immense potential by offering real-time patient data for precise diagnoses, efficient treatment planning, and enhanced patient outcomes. With every laboratory now equipped with a computer or tablet storing a massive amount of patient data from multiple platforms, healthcare professionals are increasingly relying on AI-driven systems for summarization and valuable insights.

We expect to witness increased utilization of AI in healthcare by 2024. While it may still be premature for AI-driven predictive clinical models to be widely adopted soon, we can wait for non-clinical applications such as care documentation and administration to advance this year.

2. IoT-Powered Wearable Devices Are On The Rise

Most patients only require an annual medical check-up and make clinic visits only when they have specific health issues. However, the rise of technology and consumer-centric healthcare is shaking up patients’ demands at every stage of the healthcare journey. They expect more frequent and preventive care, with instant updates on their health.

As a result, healthcare companies are investing in wearable technology devices that integrate real-time monitoring of high-risk patients for early detection of critical health incidents. Based on a recent study, the market for wearable medical devices is estimated at $41.8 billion in 2024, growing to $86.2 billion by 2029.

IoT-Powered Wearable Devices Are On The Rise

Adopting connected devices allows healthcare professionals to monitor and communicate with patients remotely, enabling the delivery of various aspects of care from any distance. Noteworthy wearable devices include:

  • Blood pressure monitors
  • Glucose meters
  • ECG monitors
  • Fitness trackers
  • Integrated activewear

By 2024, a range of wearables will enter the market as healthcare consumers increasingly embrace health tracking and prioritize preventive well-being rather than later chronic care. Industry experts expect this shift to open the front door toward a promising era of virtual-based hospitals.

3. Highly-Anticipated Digital Trends in Healthcare: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

While AI has taken the spotlight in 2023, augmented and virtual reality technology are quietly gaining traction in healthcare. Indeed, tech giants are actively diving headfirst into this segment of healthcare.

Particularly, with the recent launch of Meta Oculus III and Apple Vision Pro, AR/VR headsets are set to become widely accessible to the masses. Given their massive user bases and established infrastructure, these major tech companies can and will completely change how this industry works, from medical training to surgical practices.

Highly-Anticipated Digital Trends in Healthcare: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

From startups to healthtech enterprises, organizations are placing their bets on VR, with compelling data supporting their decisions. The global healthcare virtual and augmented reality market is estimated to be worth $5.1 billion by 2025. Healthcare companies are considering  investing in AR/VR to enhance many areas of care:

  • Pain management and rehabilitation
  • Surgical visualization
  • Medical simulation
  • Mental health treatment

Although AR/VR technology is in its early stages and faces concerns regarding privacy and safety (similar to AI), it could emerge as the dark horse of 2024 digital trends in healthcare, surpassing the current hype of generative AI.

4. Blockchain Holds The Future of Patient Data

Patient data, especially data stored in electronic health records (EHR), is the backbone of healthcare. However, the existing approaches for storing and exchanging this data do not ensure the highest security and efficiency.

Since 2005, more than 11.5 billion medical records have been breached. Now, with the increasing threat of cyberattacks and fraud, healthcare organizations must establish a secure system to safeguard patient data. Companies are turning to blockchain technology, a decentralized digital ledger system that securely stores and shares data in near real-time.

Blockchain Holds The Future of Patient Data

Compared to existing systems that are vulnerable to hacking or cyber theft, a blockchain-based system offers enhanced security for patient information, granting access only to authorized individuals. By leveraging blockchain technology, healthcare providers can ensure that all records remain secure and authenticated, mitigate fraud risks, and ensure data accuracy.

Pioneering countries such as Australia and the U.K. have started to experiment with using blockchain to manage medical records and transactions. However, stringent regulations are holding U.S. companies back from developing blockchain-based EHRs. But with continuous research and development showing the potential of blockchain in complimenting EHRs, we can confidently list this technology as one of the most noteworthy digital trends in healthcare this year.

5. Healthcare Will Prioritize Data Equity

Expect to become very familiar with healthcare data equity in 2024. As artificial intelligence expands its applications in healthcare, medical practices will be required to collect, analyze, and distribute healthcare data without bias.

Throughout recent years, healthcare has evolved from the Triple Aim to the Quadruple Aim and now the Quintuple Aim, emphasizing the need to achieve health equity. Therefore, more and more companies are putting effort into improving data privacy and ensuring the ethical use of AI.

Healthcare Will Prioritize Data Equity

For this trend to fulfill its promise of enhancing care equity and coordination, healthcare technology providers must adopt an open ecosystem approach that breaks down data silos. Most patient monitoring devices store non-interoperable data, forcing clinicians to reference multiple sources for a comprehensive clinical view. This shift will eliminate this inconvenience, enabling clinicians to efficiently utilize patient data.

Digital health touchpoints are evolving to better address gaps in care access and quality. We can look forward to such initiatives with a stronger emphasis on integrating equity throughout the healthcare journey. Also, keep an eye out for more adoption of open-source healthcare technologies as they will be the premises of more robust and accessible healthcare systems.

6. Approaching Sustainable Digital Trends in Healthcare with Greener Practices

All the digital blessings mentioned above don’t come without a cost. Healthcare alone accounts for a staggering 30% of global data generation. The estimated growth of healthcare data from 2018 to 2025 will be 36%, outpacing any other data category.

Consumers are now requiring healthcare to be as sustainable as their accommodations, food, and transportation. Healthcare technology companies are responding by promoting sustainable practices across the healthcare journey, from operation and service to delivery.

Approaching Sustainable Digital Trends in Healthcare with Greener Practices

Promisingly, healthcare organizations, technology companies, and other suppliers are beginning to integrate decarbonization into their long-term business plans, with a strict commitment to waste disposal. The healthcare industry is actively working toward establishing sustainable digital infrastructures, such as carbon-free cloud solutions, circular hardware, and sustainable software.

In 2024, health systems and governments will need to adopt more of these sustainable practices to mitigate industrial impacts on the environment while improving human health.

Riding The Wave Of Digital Innovations with KMS Healthcare

Healthcare in 2024 will become an intense battleground where revolutionary advancements in technology clash with the hard realities of shifting infrastructure, staff burnout, and financial instability.

Nonetheless, expect digital adoption in healthcare to explode in 2024. As healthcare enters this digital-first transformation, you must have the right expertise and resources. Consider the expert healthcare technology teams at KMS Healthcare to plan, develop, test, and launch software products that incorporate these digital trends in healthcare successfully.

To take advantage of digital healthcare, you need to define your digital transformation needs and prioritize and allocate the right resources to deliver. Contact us now for a consultation to determine the best digital healthcare solutions for your specific business needs.

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References

(n.d.). 2024 Outlook for Health Care Planning for the Future of Health. Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/health-care-blog/2023/outlook-for-health-care.html

(n.d.). What to expect in US healthcare in 2024 and beyond. McKinsey. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/what-to-expect-in-us-healthcare-in-2024-and-beyond

(n.d.). Navigating The Intersection Of Technology, Equity And Transformation In Healthcare. Forbes.https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/10/03/navigating-the-intersection-of-technology-equity-and-transformation-in-healthcare/?sh=7ec4f91c747a

(n.d.). Healthcare technology trends to watch in 2024. Healthcare Dive. https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/healthcare-technology-artificial-intelligence-digital-health-cybersecurity-outlook-2024/702980/

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