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The Future Prognosis For Healthtech

By Leah Gabbert
| min

5 Emerging Trends in HealthTech 

The world is changing and, in no small part due to the fallout effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare technology specifically is expanding on an exponential growth path as we adapt to change that continues to reshape the way we all work, live and manage our health and care.

The healthcare industry has seen, and will continue to see, unprecedented shifts over the months and years to come. And as a result, healthtech itself becomes an increasing, clearly defined sub-sector of the technology industry at large. As healthtech rapidly shifts to address this change, how will platform-level technologies enable healthcare and life sciences efforts in the post-COVID new normal?

Leah Gabbert, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, Healthcare, Nutanix examines some of the key emerging trends, drivers, and multipliers that are shaping the future for healthtech around the world.

A Time of Rationalization & Consolidation

As healthtech continues this path of expansion, application rationalization and infrastructure consolidation are two ways to help reduce spending on licensing, contracts, staff training and support within this sub-sector. Healthcare organizations may need to standardize their clinical and non-clinical applications to avoid managing multiple clinical imaging, revenue management systems, electronic health record (EHR) platforms, and other mission-critical products. 

Additionally, this consolidation will allow healthcare organizations to better allocate the tasks of the IT team allowing more focus on strategic value-added work. An uptick of IT services will likely result in a redefinition of the role of healthcare IT teams. These IT teams will focus more on services management versus the traditional “build and operate” model. As a combined and significant emerging trend, we are experiencing a standardization, consolidation and rationalization process as healthtech shoulders the new and more exhaustive approach to services management, all which must be done with defined boundaries to maintain compliance of patient data.

Knowledgeable Task Workers

Business analysts are fond of attempting to lay down defining lines of demarcation to separate so-called “knowledge workers” and the supporting “task workers” counterparts. While the task workers’ regularly prescribed set of tasks remains more tactical (or admin-based), some roles are now being shouldered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) functions. As a result, a core cadre of smarter task workers will emerge, particularly in the healthcare and healthtech sectors.

The prevalence of national lockdowns and remote work means creating a potentially massive spike of non-clinical workers in healthcare organizations (including back office staff,  admins and accounts managers) moving to work-from-home for the medium to long term. We could call these new task workers, “knowledgeable task workers”. And, their workflow data will need to be integrated into all new platform-level technologies being architected and deployed.

A New Healthtech Lifeblood From Data

All of these rapidly emerging developments will inevitably result in a huge surge in data volumes. Clinical applications (including the EHR and clinical imaging systems) and non-clinical applications (including revenue cycle and other business systems) leverage and produce incredible amounts of data. In addition to the increase in sheer volume of data, the data itself is incredibly large, especially when it comes to diagnostic-quality medical images and video.

In one example, the UNOS (United Network For Organ Sharing) organization recently launched its Donor Image Sharing project, the first national platform for Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) and transplant teams to share medical images of donated organs to help facilitate more transplants. The project makes large file-size clinical images, radiographs, videos of echocardiograms, catheterizations, pulmonary bronchoscopies, and other images available to OPOs, transplant and donor hospitals in real-time. 

Healthcare is a world of patient, consumer and financial data, data that is a fundamental lifeblood for the entire healthcare industry.

Data Sharing For A Healthier Future

Data “marketplaces'' allow the exchange patient data (often anonymized and obfuscated) and clinical records for medical research and studies. In fact, the fragmented nature of healthcare data has paved the way for data aggregators to collect and sell this anonymized data, while new consumer applications allow for patients to “opt in” to trade, share or donate their patient data in a secure and confidential environment.

In 2021, cloud computing will gain rapid ground in pharma companies to enhance collaboration between competing firms sharing information and knowledge to expedite drug discovery. And, the success of COVID-19 contact tracing in China means that startups in the US, Europe, and India will have the opportunity to bring similar innovation with location services-enabled mobile apps to solve vexing (lives vs. livelihood) issues that continue to mire consumer-government relations.

Placing Our Trust, In Zero Trust

The future for healthtech is positive, but just as in the operating theatre or any other clinically secure environment, we will need to ensure pristine laboratory-like conditions when it comes to data protection and the identification, and prevention of malware, ransomware, or other forms of malicious cyber activity. Establishing a zero trust model should form the bedrock of our new healthtech foundations.

A zero trust approach enables healthtech organizations, the technology partners, and technology platforms it works with to adopt a “verify, then approve” mechanism to ensure that data breaches and cyber attacks can be eradicated. As users, devices, applications, and data move outside of the perimeter of the healthtech organization itself, it is vital that we replace the gap created with a sophisticated and persistent enterprise-level approach to data protection.

Recent cybersecurity attacks in healthcare organizations globally have seen Vermont-based UVM Health Network shut down its IT system after 5,000 networked computers were infected. In a September 2020 attack, Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services experienced a massive IT network outage due to malware, which saw the organization revert to using “downtime protocols” and paper records. Attacks were also seen throughout 2020 across the rest of the world, despite some international hacker groups claiming to have put their activities on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, March 2020 saw University Hospital Brno attacked in the Czech Republic, according to reports from the Czech National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB). 

At the end of the day, every patient is a person. And, just as every person is a special and uniquely identified set of combined characteristics and components - every access and data-sharing mechanism for healthtech must be carefully, individually, and robustly executed for a more advanced and healthier tomorrow. For more information about advanced end user computing solutions supporting healthtech initiatives, visit nutanix.com/euc-healthcare.

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