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The pandemic has created an opportunity to increase digital innovation and the use of telemedicine. A number of new tools have enabled us to cure previously-fatal diseases, and to make chronic disease more manageable. Historically, health technology innovation has given us basic but essential resources like the electronic medical record, as well as more complex developments like robotic surgery and precision medicine - or the use of a patient’s genetic information and environment to tailor treatments and care. Mobile technology in particular has presented intriguing opportunities to expand access to care in all parts of the world, including in more remote areas of developing countries. The overall “mHealth” (mobile health) market was already worth an estimated $23 billion by 2017, according to SNS Research - and it is expected to grow significantly. In sub-Saharan Africa, which bears the highest relative disease burden in the world, and where mobile phone penetration rates have increased significantly (GSMA estimates that about 475 million people in the region will be mobile internet users by 2025, and nearly a third of connections will be on 4G), mobile operators have begun to facilitate health payments made via mobile devices. While COVID-19 has been tragic, it has also created a unique window of opportunity to respond with digital innovation and to facilitate the uptake of telemedicine. Already by April 2020, consumer adoption of telehealth in the US had increased to over 50%, from 11% as of 2019. According to a McKinsey survey, more than 76% of consumers are moderately likely to use telehealth in the future, and 74% reported “high satisfaction” from past use. Psychiatry has the highest telehealth penetration, followed by neurology, gastroenterology (the digestive system), internal medicine, pulmonology (the respiratory tract), and family medicine. The aggregating and sharing of data can improve diagnoses, lead to new discoveries, and strengthen scientific results - including in clinical trials for rare diseases. The World Health Organization has stressed the importance of ensuring data interoperability; however, the complex and dynamic regulatory landscape of data privacy and localization laws tends to complicate data collection, sharing, and utilization - both between countries and institutions. Technologies like federated data systems, and the development of common technical and regulatory standards, could help address this situation.

Healthcare Technology

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Healthcare Technology