Technology is rapidly advancing across all industries, but few developments carry the impact or, frankly, the excitement more than those within healthcare.
Not only do headlines like "Handheld 3D Printers Accelerate Healing of Severe Burns," and "Paralyzed Man Moves All Four Limbs Using Mind-Reading Robotic Suit" actually occur outside of fiction, but we've also come to expect them now as a normal byproduct of modern life.
It's difficult to theorize where the technological "finish line" may be, or how much is left to be discovered and what it would look like if we got there. But one thing is certain: 2020 will be yet another year littered with discoveries, breakthroughs, and new implementations of emerging technologies.
As we march through a new year, we'll cover a few of the major areas of technological developments in healthcare below.
3D printers have long proven their worth in a variety of industries, and it's building itself quite a cozy home in healthcare. Already responsible for over 100 devices currently on the market, 3D printing and its applications are only expected to increase in the coming years as the technology continues to transform.
Valued at $973 million in 2018, the size of the healthcare market for 3D printing is expected to jump to $3.69 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 18.2% from 2019 to 2026.
A small sampling of the various implementations of 3D printing in healthcare include:
Improved Prosthetics: Traditionally expensive and uncomfortable, 3D printing allows for a higher degree of customization to the individual at a lower cost
Surgical Tools: Similar to prosthetics, 3D printing allows for easier customization and more accuracy in producing a variety of surgical tools for incisions and other functions
3D printed Tissues, Implants, and Organs: With more than 113,000 people waiting on the U.S. transplant list, the development of 3D "bioprinted" living tissue, blood vessels, organs, and even bone can drastically reduce wait times.
While it may not capture the imagination with the quite as much vigor as a robotic suit, the capabilities and implications of medical wearable devices are already significant.
These wearable medical devices already perform a stunning mix of health tracking functions like heart rate monitoring, exercise tracking, sleep monitoring, and sweat metering. A combination of the rise of consumerism in healthcare and Americans choosing to become more active participants in their healthcare lead to the sharp rise of wearable device users from 25.1 million in 2014 to 56.7 million in 2019.
With more than 80% of consumers willing to wear fitness technology, these numbers are expected to easily reach the projections of 67 million by 2022.
Now, back to the robots. Currently, healthcare is inundated by overwhelming amounts of data, the devices mentioned above playing no small part in the phenomenon. How much? It's difficult to put into perspective— simply put, today, the amount of data in healthcare is currently expected to double every 73 days.
Within this data lies massive opportunity to drastically improve patient outcomes and the overall health of the industry as a whole. Getting the data is one thing, but meaningfully analyzing is an entirely separate feat. In order to make sense of and extract value from this otherworldly amount of information, the medical sector has steadily invested in the potential of AI and machine learning.
AI and machine learning are expected to save the US healthcare system $100 billion annually by optimizing innovation, improving the efficiency of research and clinical trials, creating new tools for physicians, consumers, and insurers, and drastically improving patient outcomes.
Quick Leonard Kieffer (QLK)
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