High-tech tools such as point-of-care diagnostics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, along with telehealth and convenient care, are set to transform healthcare by 2026, according to a new paper from Deloitte Life Sciences and Health Care.
For the report, “Top 10 Health Care Innovations: Achieving More for Less,” Deloitte conducted an external survey of innovation leaders across several segments of the healthcare system to gather opinions about the technologies most likely to impact healthcare in the next decade. The respondents included executives from the biopharmaceutical industry, medical technology companies, diagnostics, health and nonhealth-focused companies, venture capital investors, providers (accountable care organizations, integrated delivery networks, academic medical centers, physician groups), urgent care, retail clinics and nurse practitioners, clinical pharmacists and former policy makers, according to the Deloitte report.
The Deloitte report authors specifically looked at healthcare technology innovation through the lens of achieving the triple aim—improving care, improving health and reducing spending—and the innovations that will help stakeholders achieve those goals.
“For far too long the health care industry’s performance, despite attempts to spur progress, has remained at the edge of this frontier. The industry needs to break current constraints and expand the frontier to achieve true breakthrough performance. While the constraints are many, the traditional, dominant, fee-for-service (FFS) payment model, in particular, does not align provider incentives with the goal of achieving more for less,” the report authors wrote.
According to the survey results, Deloitte identified the top 10 technology innovations that could significantly impact healthcare throughout the next 10 years:
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) – Advances in genetic sequencing could lead to the development of diagnostic tests that may identify at-risk populations where early interventions could save downstream health care costs
3D-printed devices – Providers could use 3D printing to create highly customized, low-cost medical technology products that can be tailored to suit the physiological needs of individual patients
Immunotherapy – Treatments with the potential to significantly extend survival for cancer patients, without the negative side effects and related healthcare costs of traditional chemotherapy
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – The ability of computers to think like and complete tasks currently performed by humans with greater speed, accuracy and lower resource utilization
Point-of-care (POC) diagnostics – Allow for convenient, timely testing at the point of care (e.g. physician office, ambulance, home or hospital), resulting in faster, more cohesive and less-expensive patient care
Virtual reality (VR) – Simulated environments that could accelerate behavior change in patients in a way that is safer, more convenient and more accessible
Leveraging social media to improve patient experience – Tapping data from social media and online communities to give health care organizations the ability to track consumer experience and population health trends in real-time
Biosensors and trackers – Technology-enabled activity trackers, monitors, and sensors incorporated into clothing, accessories and devices that allow consumers and clinicians to easily monitor health
Convenient care – Retail clinics and urgent care centers that provide more convenient and lower-cost care to patients for a number of health issues
Telehealth – A more convenient way for consumers to access and increase self-care while potentially reducing office visits and travel time; may also prevent complications and emergency room visits
The report also provides a number of examples of these technologies already being used by healthcare organizations. For instance, through a collaboration of IBM and Memorial Sloan Kettering, Watson Oncology provides individualized treatment options for patients based on their specific case details and existing clinical evidence. The technology will assist oncologists with the challenging task of synthesizing the latest research and best available information to improve patient care, the report authors noted.
With regard to virtual reality, clinics and hospitals are using VR to help some soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In particular, VR is used for virtual warfare simulations akin to conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan to help veterans who are, in many ways, continually reliving the traumatic events they experienced, the report authors stated. “In a safe and controlled environment, the soldiers can learn how to deal with instances that might otherwise be triggers to behavior that could be destructive to themselves and others,” the authors stated.
However, the report authors note that incorporating these top 10 innovations into business models will require changing how healthcare organizations currently prevent, diagnose, monitor and treat disease.
“Some organizations are already experiencing business model transformation arising from payment model changes, new demands from consumers, and increased availability of data sources. The top 10 innovations are likely to accelerate transformation of the health care system across each of these three areas,” the report authors wrote.
“Health care leaders should focus on innovations that have the potential to positively impact their specific business models,” the report authors wrote. The report also recommends several “next steps for healthcare organizations.
Healthcare leaders should consider building ecosystems that embrace non-traditional players and sources of knowledge outside their own four walls. Stakeholders should also consider building pilots before investing in scale, learn to embrace change, and evaluate new revenue sources, the report authors stated. And, organizations should strive to be agile in anticipating and adjusting their strategies as innovations continue to evolve.
The repot authors also note that the federal government can play a key role in healthcare innovation both by launching pilots and programs as well as evolving regulations to keep pace with emerging technologies and ideas.
The Deloitte report also identified a number of nominated technologies that didn’t make the top 10 list, namely, gene therapy, regenerative medicine and robotics. The Deloitte report authors contend that these technologies have generated a lot of buzz, but represent “more for more,” or advancements that typically come at a higher cost, and, therefore, did not meet the authors’ definition of innovation.