Healthcare Trends in Review: Big Tech Brings Big Changes

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is part of our Ten Healthcare Trends Series, presented annually since 2012 by Robin Rose, VP, Healthcare Resources Group. 

Healthcare is hardly alone in the outsize role technology has come to play in delivery of services or goods.  Retailing, banking, communications, and entertainment landscapes have seen tech-driven tectonic changes in just the last ten years. To supplement the recording of our tenth annual special webinar Top Trends: How Healthcare Moves Forward in 2021, let’s take a look at the rise of tech in healthcare over the last decade.

1. Healthtech Hits Fast Forward

In 2019, we talked about numerous new technologies that on the horizon that would change healthcare delivery over the next decade.  At the time, a Bill Gates quote seemed particularly apt: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” 

While changes brought about due to the pandemic certainly dwarfed expectations on nearly every front, the point then was that the industry would be very different in 2030 than it is today.  Some of the new technologies that were slowly coming into healthcare included AI’s role in data analysis, telehealth, robotics, 5G, wearable technology, genomics, 3-D printing, online learning and training, and virtual reality simulation.

The pandemic has greatly accelerated the invention and use of new technology in the healthcare setting. Technology companies and others are surgically focused on improvements such as robots to clean hospital rooms and round on inpatients for routine care. One executive from Vanderbilt has commented that they were able to implement their 10-year plan for telehealth in 3 weeks last spring.  Companies have been using 3-D printers to produce needed PPE.  On the consumer side of healthcare, the Internet of Things is exploding with the push to develop better methods of monitoring patient health from home, wearables and more.

2. Healthcare Gets Social

All of healthcare has become more adept at using social media than they were ten years ago. In 2012, we predicted that social connectivity would begin to accelerate in healthcare.  We were making statements such as: 

  • “Social media sites are no longer just trendy toys for the younger generation” 
  • “Healthcare organizations will look to social media to create two-way dialogues with their constituents.”
  • “Gone are the days when the social media user is sitting at a desk, typing on a computer.”

By 2018, we were talking about widespread use of electronic health records and the coming of telehealth. Almost all hospitals had interactive websites and a digital marketing plan.  Hospitals now rely on patient portals for direct communication with their communities. Today, healthcare organizations and technology are powering two-way conversations around key elements of caregiving:

  • Patient portals and access to care
  • Patient literacy
  • Cost transparency and digital payments
  • Referral management
  • Wearables, biometrics, and their role in condition management  

Now in its tenth year, our Ten Trends webinar series is an annual favorite of healthcare leaders nationwide. Watch and listen for a fresh, informed perspective on ten trends that will have significant impacts on healthcare in the coming year.  Download the recording of this engaging live webinar and Q&A session.