For the past decade, health tech companies have been flaunting virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain, 3D Printing and other “cool stuff” with promises that these would improve care, lower costs and become the “gold standard” of healthcare technology. However, over-hyped capabilities and lack luster evidence of over-hyped technology’s impact on healthcare has left the health industry full of skepticism and doubt. It’s about time we conduct a reality check on some of this highly touted digital health technology and determine which are actually delivering on their promises.
Healthcare has a track record of trailing industries such as banking, travel and retail in the adoption of technology. However, there is proof that the visionary technology which promised to transform the industry is no longer on the horizon – it’s here and influencing everything from our decision-making at the point of care to the way consumers manage their health from home. Plus it has already enabled the industry to deliver quality care, create efficiencies and improve overall health outcomes.
Let’s take a closer look at where health tech measures up to its hype.
VR technology is making a major impact in healthcare and reaching a tipping point in the industry. It’s changing the way providers address the most challenging medical issues – from separating conjoined twins to navigating around a blocked artery. VR plays an integral role in how physicians prepare for these complex procedures, allowing surgeons to plan and visualize the surgery in 3D.
A number of companies entering the VR space are poised to make a lasting impact on the industry.
- OSSO VR: A validated VR surgical training platform designed for surgeons, sales teams and hospital staff of all skill levels, OSSO offers highly realistic hand-based interactions in immersive training environments that contain the latest, cutting edge procedures and technology. OSSO VR is helping train surgeons with real world skills that can be directly applied when in the operating room.
- AppliedVR: Provides a virtual reality platform to offer patients an escape from scary and painful experiences in healthcare. The company’s current VR platform is transforming the patient experience in hospitals, infuse centers, senior care facilities, surgery centers and exam rooms across the nation. AppliedVR is currently building out a collection of 3-D content designed to help patients combat pain.
- Intel: Largely known for their chips, Intel has spent the past several years successfully breaking into the healthcare market to deliver created virtual reality headsets to help physicians prepare for complicated surgeries and deliver personalized, immersive rehabilitation treatments.
AI & Blockchain
Among some of the most hyped digital technologies, AI and Blockchain are actually enhancing interactions between physicians and patients to provide more personalized care. Blockchain originally became relevant for supporting cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but has big implications for healthcare.
- Qventus: Uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create products that help healthcare organizations and their people adapt in the moment and make the right decisions from the most complex data. By using AI to increase operational efficiencies, Qventus is improving small day-to-day decisions that can, over time, create massive improvements in healthcare.
- Arterys: A web-based medical imaging analytics platform powered by AI ensures that medical imaging professionals have simple solutions to improve the imaging and treatment of complex diseases. Their solutions are helping radiologists read images quicker and more accurately. The technology reads MRIs of the heart and measures blood flow through its ventricles in 15 seconds, a process that typically takes a human 45 minutes.
- Change Healthcare: A provider of revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions, Change Healthcare is connecting payers, providers and patients in the U.S. healthcare system. Most recently, the company launched a blockchain solution for use in healthcare to help scale its existing claims processing network.
While AI and VR are influencing the healthcare ecosystem, there are other “unusual suspect” technologies that are redefining who we are as humans. In fact, several new “digital you” technologies mimic actual human qualities in some way.
- Orbita, Inc.: Orbita’s products are used by healthcare systems, care management service providers, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare organizations to enable voice-first healthcare applications that improve outcomes, reduce costs and minimize risks across the continuum of care. For example, through its new relationship with Mayo Clinic, Orbita is delivering Mayo Clinic health and wellness content to help transform the patient journey through education, engagement and improved quality of care.
- Ekso Bionics: A pioneer in the field of robotic exoskeletons, Esko Bionics uses technology and engineering to develop products that unlock human strength, endurance and mobility potential, with broad applications across the medical market. For example, the EksoGT™ product enables individuals with stroke or spinal cord injuries to stand up and walk with a full weight bearing, reciprocal gait.
- Dassault Systèmes: The company’s Living HeartProject aims to drive the creation and use of simulated 3D personalized hearts in the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of heart diseases. As the scientific and medical community seeks faster and more targeted ways to improve patient care, the Living Heart Project is extending its reach through new partnerships and applications while lowering barriers to access.
- Worrell: A global design firm that specializes in healthcare innovation and strategy serves medical device and pharmaceutical companies with expertise in ethnographic research, human factors and design and development programs. The company recently announced its team of researchers, designers and developers are uncovering new applications for voice user interfaces (VUIs) and how they can be used as primary channels to improve outcomes for both patients and healthcare stakeholders alike.
The future of healthcare is here, thanks in part to the “cool factor” of technology. For example, burn victims undergo some of the most painful treatments in medicine and are the beneficiaries of both 3D printing and VR. One study found the VR game “SnowWorld” more effective in managing pain than morphine for burn patients. Additionally, with investments in mental healthcare on the rise, PTSD sufferers are benefiting from VR therapy. Some hospitals are already using VR to put veterans back into battlefield simulations in order to help them understand, come to terms with and move past their traumatic memories.
Technology doesn’t matter because it’s labeled as “cool,” “new” or “innovative.” It matters because it changes lives. We’re witnessing this every day, and technology is paving the way toward a bright future. At HLTH, these and other health technology companies are coming together to showcase technological advancements that are making an impact on healthcare’s most challenging problems, most pressing needs and most practical opportunities. NOW THAT’S SOME REALLY COOL STUFF!
Be sure to check out our other healthcare blogs leading up to HLTH 2018 on May 6-9th at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Latest blogs include: