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27 Aug

Top 5 Trends in Health Tech in 2021

Chris George, an alumnus of New York University and St. Mary’s University, Texas, is a serial entrepreneur with an experience ranging over two decades. In 2001, Chris launched EasyBuyMusic

(EBM), funded by ICICI Ventures & News Corp, a pioneering e-commerce player that truly ushered in the online revolution in India & later morphed into the EBS Worldwide Group. A technology, marketing, scalability & execution veteran, he’s built a 400+ employee Marketing Service company, with Fortune 1000 Clients, funded by IL&FS Private Equity & Veteran Angels.

Let’s face it. The ‘elephant in the room’ for companies across India (and perhaps the world) in 2021 is about designing and delivering, comprehensive employee benefit programs and full-stack healthcare coverage. Post Covid-19, the primary concern for over 84% of employers is the rising cost of healthcare, with 70% of Indians spend their entire salary tending to these expenses, and 3.2% are deficient due to the skyrocketing healthcare costs. 

Given that it is rather complicated to make sense of most health insurance products, organizations are now tapping into ‘full-stack’ financial and benefit-oriented services for their employees.

Here, rapid technological advancements, evolving healthcare needs, and mounting competition in employee retention are driving a new wave of employee-oriented health benefits.

Health IT adoption shot up in 2020 as healthcare systems globally relied on digital health technologies and platforms for delivering well-rounded care services. It’s setting the stage for continued innovation in 2021 and beyond.

As the HR manager, I would love the opportunity to find a solution that shows my team that they work for a #CompanyThatCares.

So, let’s look at some of the 5 Top Trends in Health-Tech, from the point of view of managing employee healthcare.

1) Embedded Finance in Healthcare

The nature of health care payments is a high-friction experience for individuals. With Out-of-Pocket Expenditure (OoPE) in Healthcare remaining a massive problem worldwide, accounting for 11% in the US to 63% in India, of the entire healthcare expenditure in those countries. While the insurance industry has been working at it for years, we are yet to see a truly global, tech-led solution that puts the power of healthcare payments in the hands of the individual. The inability to centralize payments in one place, and a lack of control over the transaction, are ongoing pain points for those that pay for healthcare.

A new US-based healthcare-fintech start-up PayZen pays hospitals upfront for patient invoices and offers patients zero-interest, fee-free payment plans. The PayZen platform is expected to increase collections for hospitals by 50 percent while making healthcare more affordable for patients.

Helping individuals seamlessly pay for their healthcare expenses, connecting the payers – insurance companies, lending banks, employers, or the individual’s own financial resources – to the care providers (Hospitals, etc.) is the next frontier of disruption in healthcare, with the potential to have a massive positive impact in emerging markets and countries like India.

2) IoMT, Wearables & Wellness Apps

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) market is exploding with growth opportunities. The objective being to focus on fewer in-person visits to the Doctor. COVID-19 has revved up a spike in usage and popularity for wearable technology. An IDTechEx report reveals that the pandemic sparked additional attention towards sensors. These devices helped track early-onset conditions, remote patient monitoring for quarantined patients, and facilitate wearables for effective contact tracing.

The wearable industry’s annual revenue will exceed 5B$ by 2025.

On the other hand, there is a wide spectrum of semi-professional and professional healthcare and wellness mobile apps, that can sync with wearables like fitness trackers and pulsometers to leverage the data drawn through sensors on your body. Interestingly, 37-41% of organizations worldwide have wellness programs in place as a proactive attempt to append their wellness plan management approach.

3) AI

AI has been stirring up the healthcare scenario for decades now. What started as expediting the revenue cycle, hospital administration, operations, and logistic processes, is now upending how healthcare systems exist.

AI remained pivotal in developing predictive models for COVID-19, testing AI models to read medical images, and predicting how second and third waves of the pandemic will unfold, yielding mixed responses worldwide.

  • Microsoft-backed InnerEye research is a promising AI-modeled project in computed tomography scan processing.
  • BlueDot, an AI-backed application from Toronto, Canada, was a major pioneer in early warning systems for identifying pandemics such as COVID-19.

4) Predictive Healthcare

Healthcare systems with the technical capabilities to practice precision medicine using predictive analytics.

  • Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai, Mayo Clinic, and the University of California-Irvine created numerous predictive models to track Coronavirus and approximate a patients’ risk of developing severe symptoms.
  • Imaging COVID-19 emerged as a deep learning model for automatically detecting COVID-19 patterns on CT scans.
  • Pittsburgh-based UPMC successfully employs data analytics backed by its enormous clinical data warehouse, delivering insights to clinicians and patients.

COVID-19 has brought out the flaws of in-person healthcare models, and employers are already turning to virtual care options for their employees, coupled with mapping organization-wide, health scores to ensure better healthcare outcomes for their teams.

5) Cloud-Tech

The healthcare cloud computing market is slated to become worth $64.7 billion by 2025. Today’s healthcare companies are increasingly in favor of tapping into cloud platforms to boost data accessibility, collaboration, operational efficiency, and enhanced security.

From Hospital Information Systems (LIS) to Lab Information Systems (LIS) that run modern hospitals and labs respectively, to the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) are all examples of what we can expect at the nexus of healthcare and cloud technology.

As companies embrace the idea of employees working in a hybrid environment of Work-from-Home and Work-from-Office, and the very real possibility of the world dealing with various waves of this pandemic; HR managers are even keener to manage employee healthcare in a centralized manner.

This goes beyond just compliance and moves to the realm of proactive healthcare management and managing the assets that really matter – their people.

The pandemic may have created an inflection point in the history of the world and the healthcare industry. It has forced technology companies to innovate faster and for other members of the healthcare value chain to adapt and improvise.

Ultimately, it is not the individual, but the large ‘payers’ – the insurance companies, the lending banks, and the employers that will pave the way for faster adoption of these innovations in healthcare, catalysing these innovations and trends, that may ultimately change the way we provide healthcare to mankind for years to come.

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Qube Health
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