----Lead Forensics----

J. Tod Fetherling

CEO / Data Geek

Perception Health’s Top Ten Technologies to Impact Healthcare in 2021

When a Healthcare Predictive Intelligence company puts out their Top 10 list of Health Tech for the year, you can bet we have stressed a bit.  How did our predictions for past years work out?  Did we do enough research?

In reviewing our 2020 and 2019 Predictions, we were right on most of our list.  The things we don’t feel like progressed enough were the Person Connected Healthcare, Extended Reality, Microsoft+JEDI (Launched in December, Still in the Courts).  The one thing we totally missed and shame on us because we started tracking in December was the Coronavirus.

Top 10 2021 Healthcare Tech Trends

1. Digital Engagement with Patients

2. CARE Optimized

3. The Internet of Things for Healthcare

4. Blockchain for Healthcare

5. ML/AI

6. Telehealth Extensions

7. Health Data Platforms

8. Vaccine Technologies

9. Healthcare Transparency

10. Global Disease Surveillance

As we look ahead to 2021, we find ourselves in a crazy world.  There is a lot of optimism about the vaccine, a new administration, and the likelihood of a return to normal.  We do think the “new normal” is just that.  Some things we enjoyed about the pandemic are likely to become a part of everyday life (Telehealth, food and drug delivery to where you are) and other things we have had to get used, but didn’t like, will likely slowly fade into the background (PPE).  Just so you know, we had Telehealth on the 2019 list, so it was long overdue in our minds.

1. Digital Engagement with Patients

We believe the brightest spot for the healthcare community was Digital Engagement with Patients.  For the organizations who were prepared, this translated into increased market share and a conversation with patients that didn’t exist before.  For the unprepared, 2021 will be the time to get on board with this evolving trend.  Innovation in this space in 2021 is expected to accelerate with how people use the technologies in a non-pandemic world and the long-term impact on patient care will change forever.

2. CARE Optimized
Nearly three years ago, we studied Diabetes in Tennessee as a statewide ecosystem.  There is one statistic that still boggles my mind.  6,500 providers create 1.15M different Care Pathways.  We have proven to ourselves over and over again that healthcare for the patient is not being optimized for the best outcomes at the lowest possible price.  Several new care models were introduced in 2020 that will grow in importance in 2021.  This one technology trend, if embraced, may have the largest impact on the healthcare of all the rest on this list.  This will be true because it impacts the government, brokers, payers, providers, and the patient.

3. The Internet of Things for Healthcare

In the past twenty years, HIMSS has been working around the clock to get everything connected.  We have only scratched the surface.  There is still so much work to do to connect the power to the HVAC to the hospital bed to the IV to the Nursing Notes to the geospatial network of the patient location to home location to work location.  The Internet of Things applied to Healthcare is monumental and only now are we asking the right questions about these use cases.  This work is accelerating as non-healthcare players enter this space using their industrial backgrounds to leverage this massive data world.  One community hospital today outputs more data in one day, than what whole countries were doing only 20 years ago.  How do we harness it for more effective and efficient care for the patients and the organizations that serve the community?

4. Blockchain for Healthcare
Progress was fast for a few players in 2020.  We will see a lot more players in 2021 in Blockchain as the use cases continue to evolve and replace older, outdated technologies for billing, patient records, interoperability, and security.

5. ML/AI
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are a continuation.  We find ourselves on the edge of a decision by business and government about how far we are willing to let these technologies go into the future.  Will we throttle the computers’ learning capacity and allow technologies to prescriptively drive our decisions without controls?  Or will we embrace a human-directed technology innovation with some limited controls, that allows for the acceleration of these technologies in healthcare.  We believe it is too hard to put the genie back in the bottle.  Ultimately, this will come down to norms and what consumers will allow their data to be used for in healthcare.

6. Telehealth Extensions
Yeah, we are more comfortable with talking to our physicians and nurses over the phone.  This is a huge step forward as an industry and a few very large players benefited greatly.  Traditional telehealth (i.e., the primary care visit) came back down to Earth during the Summer months.  We think these levels will be the new normal for this technology.

What you may not have seen are the multiple variations of telehealth with patient connected devices.  Mental health saw a massive increase in the use of these technologies in 2021.  The use of Telehealth for clinical trials, remote patient monitoring post-surgical event all represent opportunities for growth and innovation in 2021.

7. Health Data Platforms
This has been a personal focus of mine for more than a decade.  As 2021 arrives, this is an area ripe for the development of new technologies, processes, and policies.  Data governance will be key for entrepreneurs to leverage data and connect this data to the environmental forces.  Will Snowflake and DataRobot move further into healthcare?

8. Vaccine Technologies

2020 taught the world that when forced to innovate, we can deliver.  We saw one of the fastest pipeline developments from initial identification of a virus to approval to delivery in less than a year.  With innovation, the ultimate winners should be other drugs and therapeutics in the pipeline.  We can and should expect faster approval of vaccines in the future where the loss of life is involved.  The new COVID vaccine gives instruction to our cells to make the spike protein harmless to us.  The protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

9. Healthcare Transparency

With Interoperability, Data Blocking, and Pricing (Hospitals 2021, Health Insurance 2022) taking center stage, we believe we are entering a whole new consumer-driven phase of Healthcare.  Yes, I know we have all heard this before, like a million times.  The one element that will prohibit this from taking off will be education by the consumer themselves.  Even with adequate information available about the cost of the procedure, the entire healthcare episode is not readily available and won’t be for some time.  There is a big opportunity for someone to make healthcare easy to understand and package up for consumers.

10. Global Disease Surveillance

There will be many articles written over the next 3-5 years about how our society failed to work together on a Global basis to contain the Coronavirus. The politicization of the disease in America was terrible to watch it unfold.  The technologies, processes, and policies are in place to accelerate the conversation, again.  Public Health as we were reminded of in 2020 is a very powerful tool in our health tech arsenal when used properly.  Reporting in the US and Globally needs to be standardized and adhered to.  So, while this is not new, I believe the enforcement of standard reporting by county/provinces to the national level will gain momentum in 2021.

The Unknown.  Somewhere in a remote village or a garage in America, things are happening that we won’t be prepared for in 2021.  A new virus emerges, or a new technology breakthrough will happen.  The latter being so obvious, we will all be scratching our heads thinking “why did I not see that coming.”  The Coronavirus has set back the world’s work on communicable diseases.  They are constantly happening, and we have had all hands-on deck dealing COVID-19.  Rest assured, the next new disease is being formed as we speak.  This is not designed to cause fear, but to create an Eyes Wide Open scenario so we get better with each new SARS, MERS, or COVID.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback.