Disrupting technology will revolutionize healthcare IT

May 9, 20185 minute read

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You’ve heard the hype about disrupting technology, and that hype isn’t misplaced. Game changers, like AI and blockchain, will remake the world in the coming years, revolutionizing everything from customer service to the supply chain.

These innovative technologies stand ready to radically change healthcare, as well. Here’s how breakthroughs in AI and blockchain could transform healthcare—and how you and your IT team can begin preparing for their arrival.

AI will supercharge medical research

One of the greatest challenges to healthcare innovation is scalability—the process of reviewing groundbreaking medical research is too laborious to scale well. Today, medical professionals manually pore over case studies and white papers to discover the next breakthrough, drawing their conclusions the old-school way. AI and machine learning may soon upend that centuries-old paradigm.

Technology companies are developing richly detailed databases of information to provide just the types of tailored insights doctors, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies need. In combination with AI and machine learning, these resources could greatly reduce the time it takes to develop new treatments and cures for major illnesses. Some treatment centers are already using AI for initial clinical diagnostics, leveraging data insights to deliver personalized care. Meanwhile, other healthcare organizations are providing patients with access to AI-powered voice assistants that provide a wealth of information on health, wellness, benefits, and intelligent triage on demand.

AI-driven drug discovery companies are also popping up, accelerating the process of developing medications. This isn’t just the realm of scrappy startups anymore; giant corporations, like Amazon, have signaled they’re about to get into the pharmaceutical drug business, as well. Regulators are exploring how AI can help them review and approve drugs within a faster time frame, better balancing their mandate of ensuring patient safety with the need to keep applications moving through the queue at a decent clip.

Before long, AI will supercharge the ability to identify medical conditions, discover drugs, and give patients high-quality care at a speed that was unthinkable just a short while ago.

Secure data sharing with blockchain

Shiny new AI advancements are all well and good but not if they lack proper healthcare security. That’s where blockchain comes in. Although this technology is primarily known as the underpinnings of cryptocurrency transactions, it has applications in the healthcare space, where trust is crucial. You could apply blockchain in combination with AI to analyze healthcare data that otherwise couldn’t be accessed due to regulatory restrictions or privacy concerns, accelerating the pace at which medical professionals can diagnose conditions or identify life-saving cures.

Blockchain could also eliminate the data silos standing in the way of pivotal medical discoveries. By simply providing a common, centrally shared, and most importantly, secure architecture for healthcare organizations to reference, blockchain could facilitate the secure sharing of medical data on a new, higher level. For example, the Estonian government has already used blockchain to create a transparent and secure national health records system, and according to Deloitte, blockchain could be key to creating a patient-centered healthcare ecosystem that boosts healthcare security, improves data privacy, and enhances data interoperability.

One of blockchain’s other major use cases involves contracts. You could use blockchain to execute contracts for clinical trials, expediting them so medications can reach the market faster. You could also potentially apply it to insurance claims and medical records, providing a tamper-proof, authoritative record to resolve disputes. Blockchain, once viewed as a boutique technology restricted to the domain of cryptocurrency nerds, could help in resolving many of the pain points in today’s healthcare system—from siloed data to dispute resolution and beyond.

Start preparing for the future now

With the arrival of AI and blockchain on the horizon, you should begin preparing now to take advantage of these disrupters. AI depends on a strong big data architecture—one geared to deliver maximum data insights while also ensuring healthcare security. With that in mind, it’s wise to begin modernizing your data center infrastructure now in anticipation of future AI and machine learning initiatives. While AI may tap into text-based structured and unstructured data at the outset, it may not be long before it’s applied to other data types, like radiology imaging.

Blockchain is being applied to leading-edge use cases, where trust and transparency are critically important. By conducting a pilot project, you may be able to get a head start on assessing blockchain’s benefits and risks for your organization. Since blockchain is essentially a distributed network, you may need to anticipate the cost of securing additional network resources to successfully leverage it, depending on how you expect to implement it.

Of course, disrupting technology isn’t restricted to patient care or medical research. AI in the form of automation can help IT, too, as can machine learning. If you haven’t considered automating risk detection in your print environment yet, that’s one simple way you can augment your team’s capabilities. Automating time-intensive processes can enable your human IT team members to focus their efforts and talents on higher-priority projects that move your organization forward.

Healthcare is still catching up to other industries in terms of technology innovation, but that could radically change thanks to breakthrough advancements made possible by AI, blockchain, and other disruptive technologies. You can position your healthcare organization to take advantage of these exciting developments by modernizing your IT environments now.

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