The healthcare industry is always evolving - and thanks to the exponential rise of technology, new topics and trends are constantly emerging. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, neuroscience: no, you’ve not accidentally stumbled into a sci-fi movie: these are all very real up and coming technologies that are set to have a direct impact on the healthcare industry over the next few years.
With the dissatisfaction among junior doctors reaching unprecedented levels (a staggering 80% feel excessively stressed) and the number of doctors progressing to specialty training dwindling to its lowest rate in the history of the NHS, these changes have never been more needed. As NHS staff struggle to cope with a growing demand for patient care and the UK’s ageing population, technology is being seen as an enabler that can allow people to work smarter, not harder.
And of course, as these trends come to light, it opens more doors and possibilities for healthcare industry market research too. In this latest blog we explore the latest trends and what they mean for market research and the industry as a whole…
The advance of apps
The number of smartphone users is expected to grow to 2.5 billion next year - and as more and more people have smartphones, the popularity of health and fitness apps is growing by the day too. In fact, health and fitness app usage has grown by 33% in just three years, with ¾ of active users opening their app at least twice a week. From healthy eating advice and couch to 5k apps to more specific apps that manage conditions such as asthma and diabetes and even fertility trackers, there’s no denying that people are using technology to take more control of their health. As well as having a huge impact on the healthcare industry, it also gives market researchers access to more in depth and accurate insights than ever before, opening the door to an unprecedented amount of data and also allowing researchers to observe and communicate with patients on the go for live, in-the-moment insights.
The growth of wearables
From Fitbits and Apple watches to heart monitors, wearable devices are taking over the world. These devices are helping people stay healthier on their own - but it’s the real-time data from these devices that’s truly transforming healthcare. Wearable devices allow both physicians and researchers to monitor patients remotely, resulting in more accurate and insightful data in real-time. And that’s not all: artificial intelligence also has the ability to take things one step further by constantly monitoring data to alert HCPs and hospitals as and when anything changes, such as a spike in blood pressure. A great example is the Apple Watch Series 4 that automatically notifies emergency services after a fall if you’re immobile for more than one minute; such developments and advances will result in more efficient care and better patient outcomes too.
Improving smart devices
Smart devices are also growing in popularity too. From Amazon’s Alexa to self-driving cars, smart devices are becoming more common by the day in all aspects of life - but they’re having a pretty big impact on the medical environment too, with 94% of healthcare executives saying that they are planning to implement smart technology in their organisations. From monitoring patients in the ICU to identifying deterioration and even spotting when conditions such as sepsis are taking hold before they’ve even happened without the need of time-consuming tests to confirm it, AI is making medical devices smarter than ever before. And thanks to these types of predictive analytics, technology is providing faster, more accurate data, increasing efficiency and decreasing risks - which is drastically improving both research and patient outcomes too.
The arrival of augmented reality
Augmented reality is a pretty new arrival on the healthcare scene, but over the coming years it’s set to become an increasingly powerful tool. One of the strongest applications for AR is medical training which allows a number of physicians to see procedures right in front of them in a simulated OR environment to learn new skills. Augmented reality can improve patient care too: imagine different treatment options popping up on screen during an examination or having growth charts appear around a child during checkups, or even surgeons being able to ‘see inside’ patient’s bodies using data from scans (which has actually already been done!) There’s tons of possibilities for market research as well, such as computer simulated environments that mean respondents can take part in research from wherever they are in the world.
Advances in neuroscience
Advances in neuroscience may be less accessible to participants in their day-to-day lives, but they offer researchers a number of advantages in the scope and accuracy of data they can obtain. For example, eye or heart tracking or even facial coding can allow researchers to use facial expressions to identify emotional responses which can help them understand how people respond to everything from information leaflets to new devices. Not only that, but neuroscience technology could also allow researchers to carry out live brainwave analysis of participants whilst they are being interviewed so researchers can look beyond any inaccurate or misleading answers and dig deeper to discover true facts and insights.
So, could technology help fundamentally reshape the way we approach healthcare, and at the same time get the NHS off the critical list? A growing number of clinicians certainly believe that digital healthcare could be the solution - and as more and more patients use technology to take more control of their own health, the healthcare industry has already begun to shift. If you’re interested in finding out more about the impact of technology in healthcare industry market research, you might like to read some of our other blogs on the subject: