Clearly, the technology revolution in health and social care continued in 2023. In this article, I will delve into some of the standout trends that defined the past year and explore how they have been reshaping the delivery and experience of health and social care services.
Innovative technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continued to be instrumental in enhancing the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of health and social care. These innovations have had a positive impact in these sectors; spanning from diagnosis and treatment to preventive measures and overall wellness. Here are a few notable applications of AI and ML that gained traction in 2023:
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) was instrumental in clinical documentation, coding, and billing; greatly reducing errors and saving valuable time for clinicians and administrative staff.
- Computer imaging made significant strides in the medical field, with applications in pathology and dermatology; notably improving the accuracy and speed of diagnosis and subsequent treatment plans.
- Predictive analytics played a pivotal role in risk stratification, optimising resource allocation, and delivering personalised care; allowing for the more efficient use of resources, and customised interventions based on individual needs.
- Conversation agents contributed significantly to patient engagement, education, and support; fostering better adherence to treatment, self-management, and empowerment among patients
The widespread acceptance and integration of remote monitoring and telehealth were among the most noticeable shifts in the healthcare landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated the adoption of these technologies, offering effective solutions in reducing exposure risks, expanding access, and curbing costs for organisations facing surging demands. Noteworthy examples of remote monitoring and telehealth technologies in 2023 included:
- Wearable devices and sensors that tracked vital signs, activity levels, sleep quality, and other biometric data; providing continuous real-time feedback and alerts.
- User-friendly mobile apps and web platforms for appointment scheduling, accessing medical records, communicating with healthcare providers, receiving prescriptions, and referrals, ensuring convenience and transparency (such as the NHS App).
- Incorporation of video conferencing and virtual reality in consultations, assessments, therapy sessions, and follow-ups; elevating interaction and engagement levels. This ensures care accessibility from various devices, including smartphones.
- Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) emerged as a promising solution to address the challenges and opportunities in managing health and social care data. Blockchain and DLT offer a secure, decentralised, and transparent approach to storing, sharing, and verifying healthcare data while prioritising privacy and consent.
Some notable applications in 2023 included:
- Streamlining electronic health records (EHRs) to create a unified, interoperable, and patient-centric system, thereby enhancing data quality, availability, and portability.
- Implementation of digital identity and credentials to verify patient, provider, and organisational identities, fostering trust and accountability.
- The use of smart contracts for automating transactions, agreements, and workflows; reducing friction and overhead costs.
These trends significantly shaped the health and social care technology landscape in 2023. Looking ahead to 2024, we anticipate further innovations, integrations, and impacts from these technologies, alongside the emergence of new advancements. We encourage you to share your thoughts, comments, or questions as we continue to witness the evolution of healthcare technology.