A few weeks ago, representatives across Omnicom Health Group attended the world’s most exciting trade show: the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. We walked miles on the show floor exploring the latest innovations on display and attended the Digital Health Summit, keeping our eyes and ears open to trends in technology, particularly ones that have potential for scalable innovation in healthcare. 5G dominated the event this year as a path-breaking technology while other familiar technologies gave glimpses of their maturation and their increasing application in the real world. We’ve identified four technology trends from CES 2020 and four ways that we believe these trends will propel digital health forward in 2020 and beyond.
Surge of the Sensors
We witnessed a vast array of sensors being used in medical devices actively aiding—or in wearables, augmenting—the diagnostic/care management processes. From heart rate monitors and glucometers, to sensors aiding sleep analysis, it is evident that advancement of sensors is shifting their place in healthcare from ones providing informative value to ones that can predict the onset of a health incident and aid in preventive care.
As with previous editions of CES, the chatter around Artificial Intelligence (AI) continued. What caught our interest was not so much a leap of the technology itself, but how its widespread application appears to have matured around augmenting human intelligence rather than replacing humans. AI/machine learning models embedded on big data appear to be proliferating.
It was difficult to find a smart device on the show floor that wasn’t voice-enabled. While touchscreens revolutionized the last decade, introduction of smart speakers ushered us into the era of voice. The conversation at CES revolved around designing experiences that seamlessly straddle the worlds of screen and voice. Google made a compelling pitch for brands to take their existing digital channels a step further to voice enable them.
Data at the Speed of 5G
There was considerable buzz around 5G and what that would mean for innovation. 5G is exponentially (about 100 times) faster than LTE and facilitates data transfers in near real time. The impact of the high speed and low latency of 5G takes on a new dimension if we consider the advances in computing power and data storage. As such, 5G is poised to impact innovation in medical devices and telehealth services, IoT devices, autonomous vehicles, AR/VR experiences, cloud and data centers, and smart city infrastructure.
How the trends impact healthcare
Here’s a look at how we found these trends working together to shape the digital health landscape.
AI-powered Healthcare Tasks
Using the most advanced sensor in a wearable would mean very little if the observed data is not evaluated in the context of the patient and the health indicator that the sensor is measuring. With the immediacy afforded by wearables, in-home devices, and smart phones, there is a need for such evaluations to happen in real time.
This is where a machine learning algorithm to analyze the data comes in. AI is not necessarily replacing humans, but aiding human intelligence in the decision-making process. The opportunity is in applying AI to specific tasks rather than the whole process. Such instances of augmented AI are being seen not just with wearable/home health devices, but in other key aspects of healthcare as in detecting patterns in imaging, pre-planning for surgeries, fertility treatments like IVF, and use of brain-machine interface in prosthetics.
Watch how Battelle’s neural bypass technology helps patients with paralysis regain control of their hands, and read about how AI powers their technology: 5 Ways AI is Transforming Medicine.
Voice-enabled Patient Experiences
Examples of how to use voice around care management are being explored in hospitals and healthcare systems. But the conversation at CES focused on providing an integrated voice-screen experience by voice enabling existing digital channels, rather than merely building specialized voice “skills” or “actions.” This is an important observation, considering the rapid growth of consumers interacting with their devices (both smart speakers and other devices) through voice. The immediate benefits of voice enabling a website or a mobile app are two-fold:
- Search engine optimization for voice searches can improve discoverability for your brands
- Voice-enabling your website or app could extend voice access to what you’ve already built
Human-computer interaction is evolving: a combination of screens, haptics, and voice across multiple devices and appliances, calling us to think in terms of composite seamless experiences.
Personalization of Care
With the rise of big data and sophisticated sensors comes the age of personalized care. It is now possible to use a patient’s genetic and molecular information to customize treatment for the individual. Technological advancements are driving care from point of care to the home, providing an opportunity for partnership between technology companies and healthcare organizations. With 5G facilitating real-time exchange of data, the vast amount of continuous health data on an individual is allowing for new ways to diagnose, treat, and care for the patient, thereby opening up a complex new frontier: data ownership. Individuals are increasingly cognizant of their data and privacy, making it increasingly important for tech and healthcare organizations to establish trust by making it easy for patients to understand and control how, why, and when their data is being used.
Check out Cala Trio, an individualized non-invasive therapy for hand tremors.
Consumerization of Healthcare
All 4 technology trends we’ve identified are driving consumerization of healthcare giving the individual unprecedented amount of their health information. Starting with activity trackers and wearables that are able to measure heart rates and detect atrial fibrillation, the ability to predict onset of health issues is within easy reach of the consumer. There are platforms like Binah.ai that will aggregate data from patients in real time, apply AI-powered signal processing, and aid self and remote diagnosis. The general trend is that healthcare is moving towards a decentralized ecosystem where data travels far and wide. As such, there is a great need to protect data—and honor the patient’s consent—wherever it goes.
Check out ClearUP, a CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree: a drug-free, non-invasive device to treat sinus pain.
Learn about Binah.ai, another CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree: a vital signs monitoring tool that runs on a plug-and-play AI platform.
At CES 2020, we saw innovative applications in familiar technologies and caught a glimpse of the future that is to come. That future holds a great promise to make healthcare smarter, more efficient, and improve outcomes for patients and providers alike through thoughtful, scalable innovation. With that promise comes the responsibility around patient data and privacy. We look forward to tracking how this promise is fulfilled, and you can count on us to report back to you. We welcome your feedback and thoughts.
A special thank you to Omnicom Health Group contributors CDM, HCG, TBWA\WH, and WildType.
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