Thanks to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare and pharmaceuticals have gained a lot of attention. On one hand, the news tells us about healthcare resources strained to the breaking point. On the other hand, we hear about pharmaceutical companies racing to find a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Thus, it’s logical to assume that the world will closely watch healthcare technology trends and pharma technology trends in 2021. After all, the pandemic is still in full effect, and several vaccines are now being distributed. While it’s a good guess that COVID will end in 2021, it most likely will be around for at least the first half of the year.
Technology helps improve our lives, and in the fight against a crisis like COVID-19, we need all the help we can get. Let’s look at some up and coming pharma technology trends and overall healthcare technology trends, how they are likely to affect their respective industries, and see if they can offer us some good news.
A Pandemic-Based Transformation
It’s safe to say that 2020 was a transformative year for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the medical community to redefine how patients and caregivers interact, as well as spur a massive research and development effort to develop a vaccine by the pharmaceutical industry. Let’s look at some of the most promising healthcare technology trends and pharma technology trends in 2021.
COVID-19 made it necessary for healthcare providers to move as much of their work to a non-contact format as possible, conforming to directives regarding social distancing. Thus, telemedicine attracted a lot of attention. For instance, physicians examine and diagnose patients remotely, enter treatment instructions digitally, and arrange for pharmacies to deliver prescriptions to patients by mail or courier. Telephone and video appointments, remote consultations, online collaboration, and remote telemetry all increased in usage in 2020 because of COVID protocols and will most likely continue to be a significant factor in 2021.
Data-Driven Drug Development
Pharmaceutical companies can use the power of unlimited data to make more remarkable strides in discovering and developing new drugs, as well as new applications for existing compounds. Data-driven research is shaping up as a significant pharma technology advantage.
- Big Data. Big data is an information treasure trove, an asset for developing new solutions. Fortunately, there are many tools that data scientists use to sift through the vast expanse of big data and harvest useful information.
- Artificial Intelligence. AI analyzes data faster than humans — a comforting thought, considering the sheer number of immunology research papers released every day. Data scientists can use artificial intelligence to curate the facts from research projects, analyze them, and generate new insights.
- Digital Simulations. Nine out of ten clinical trials fail, but this statistic improves if researchers introduce more compounds introduced into the trial phase. However, that requires gathering data, exploring different variables, and comparing the new potential drug with similar treatments already existing.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of epidemiology in tracking, reacting to, and anticipating the spread of the disease. In turn, epidemiology benefits from data science to monitor things like contact tracing, predict what the coronavirus will do next, and symptom tracking.
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML)
For example, Google has recently announced that its Deepmind AI can now predict a protein's structure from its DNA code. This breakthrough solves one of the biggest challenges in biology, one that has been around for half a century.
AI and ML are also poised to play a more prominent role in hospital administration, making the facilities “smarter.” For instance, AI can detect and fix many issues with medication administration, saving money. AI can also increase operational efficiency, scale front-line nurses’ workloads, and supply virtual patient monitoring to predict and reduce adverse events.
Machine learning can expedite medical imaging, aggregating, and cross-referencing volumes of imaging datasets quicker and more accurately than people can. The results of these analyses can provide patients with accurate predictive diagnosis.
And that’s just for starters. AI can offer game-changing applications for robot-assisted surgery, fraud detection, clinical trial participation, and cybersecurity. Furthermore, the advantages of AI and ML will greatly benefit regions where medical access is difficult or inadequate.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) has already made quite a big splash in a vast cross-section of industries and sectors, with the number of IoT devices predicted to jump to 125 billion by 2030. The medical field is poised to benefit immensely from IoMT, thanks to a combination of mobile apps and IoT devices.
Consider the selection of medical-related wearables available today. Some remote monitors gauge heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and glucose level. As these wearables increase, health care professionals can keep better track of their patients’ health without the latter needing to set foot in a medical center.
However, there are still challenges to iron out, such as connectivity (anyone who often uses a smartphone can attest to this!) and privacy. But these challenges can be met and solved in time.
Healthcare AR and VR
Augmented reality and virtual reality have many uses in the healthcare industry, ranging from education and diagnoses to physical therapy. Medical students can attend virtual reality live streams of surgeries. As the technology improves, they may eventually see procedures unfold via a camera on the surgeon’s headgear.
Instructors can use AR and VR to create simulations to help their students learn surgical procedures. Instead of practicing on cadavers, students could run through VR surgical challenges and scenarios.
These technologies can also be used to conduct extremely accurate body mapping, fully recreating a patient’s body virtually. This process helps specialists apply advanced diagnosis and risk assessments without performing exploratory surgery or other invasive tests.
One senior living facility in Connecticut, USA, uses VR headsets to help patients with cognitive impairments and dementia. Physical therapists, meanwhile, use VR to help amputees deal with phantom pain.
How to Get in on These Exciting Healthcare Technology Trends and Pharma Technology Trends
If you’re interested in data science in the context of the medical field, you have many options. Consider your interests and aptitudes and choose a technical skill area you want to master. Simplilearn has many courses and bootcamps to give you the skills needed to excel in such a worthy field as medicine.
For instance, you can take the Artificial Intelligence Engineer Master’s program and become an AI and ML expert. Or perhaps you want to enter the field of Data Science. Since the field of medicine is turning more to the cloud, you can train to be a Cloud Architect and acquire expertise with the Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud platforms. Finally, there’s the prospect of becoming a Big Data Engineer and helping medical professionals sort through the flood of terabytes of information out there!
Whichever path you choose, Simplilearn has the right courses to turn you into a 21st century healthcare data professional. Check out the courses today, and get your new career underway!