Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 05, 2013

Study Shows 3 Major Trends for the Future of the Healthcare Industry


On Wednesday, Frost & Sullivan released findings from a recent study in an overview titled “What’s Hot in the Healthcare Industry.” In this presentation, the research firm found that the three hottest topics according to those surveyed were mHealth technology, cloud technology and regulation. These results are not surprising, given their ability to reshape the way healthcare services are delivered.

The mHealth industry will reach a $26 billion by 2017, according to a report last summer. This includes a lot of areas from fitness and exercise to monitoring and treatment. Out of 126 million mHealth downloads in 2012, 76 million were for weight loss and exercise. Over half of smartphone users obtain health-related information from their phones. There were about four million free downloads per day, and 300K paid.

When it comes to medical treatment, physicians also tend to be ardent mHealth app users. Although only one-fourth of them used mobile technology for treatment at the end of 2012, 80 percent said that they use smartphones and medical apps and 93 percent believed mobile health apps can improve patient health. The fact that the vast majority of physicians are supportive of mHealth technology when only one-fourth actually use it for treatment combined with the growth of telehealth suggests that more physicians will use it for treatment in the future.

Because of its ability to save providers money in IT costs and share information efficiently among providers, cloud computing will be another major trend in the delivery of healthcare. Companies in any industry are moving away from traditional IT support that manages PC workstations and data centers because it’s less expensive to offload that work to a cloud service provider. If different providers use the same cloud, sharing the information is easier. A patient needing to escalate treatment from a general care provider to one more specialized will be able to have their information shared more easily.

Regulation always has and always will be a major part of determining how healthcare services are provided. In 2014 this is even more so with most of the Affordable Care Act going into effect with over 20,000 pages of regulations. Since mobile and cloud technology are going to play a bigger role in healthcare, ensuring that patient privacy is protected will lead to new regulations and establishment of best practices for compliance.

These trends will allow patients to better track the things they can control, like diet and exercise. Physicians will have tools that let them treat some patients more efficiently and provide treatment to more remote areas. Providers will be able to cut costs, but it’s not known if that will help much when healthcare costs are notorious for constantly increasing. Regulators have a big challenge in ensuring patient privacy when technology seems to change faster than they can keep up with it. 




Edited by Alisen Downey






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