Major Trends in Medical Technology Heading into 2020

Few fields are injected with emerging technologies more often than healthcare. Existing at the forefront of ingenuity, medical technology continually evolves and improves as it introduces breakthrough after breakthrough into the field and lives of its patients and providers.
These last few years alone have seen a dramatic rise in the adoption of new medical technologies by healthcare organizations, ranging from improved telemedicine to advances in surgical robotics. And 2020 promises even more profound technological achievements.
We’ll cover a few of the most intriguing trends in medical technology as we round the corner into the new year and how they’ll impact the healthcare sector in the foreseeable future.

Surgical Robotics

Surgical robotics is an area within MedTech experiencing a considerable period of development and expansion. In 2018, the global market share for surgical robotics was $5.4 billion—those numbers are expected to balloon to a massive $24 billion just by 2025 as robotic surgical systems capabilities continue to advance.

One example to demonstrate the surge in robotic systems technology in healthcare is leading surgical robot systems manufacturer Intuitive Surgical. Last year, their most advanced surgical robot system, “da Vinci” performed more than 1 million procedures, a stark increase compared to the 136,000 procedures performed in 2008. Controlled remotely by a surgeon from a console, da Vinci is capable of performing a myriad of precise, advanced procedures through a small incision. This minimally invasive approach allows for faster patient recovery times and alleviates much of the physical toll on surgeons.

As these robotic systems continue to improve in dexterity, applications, and cost-efficiency, expect increased implementation throughout 2020.

Artificial Intelligence

It would be difficult to find an industry blog that wouldn’t include artificial intelligence as one of its burgeoning trends, and healthcare is no exception. A byproduct of the myriad emerging technologies in healthcare is an overwhelming amount of data. While nearly every aspect of the sector, from administrative processes to research and diagnostic efficiency, stands to benefit, the sheer amount of information can be incapacitating for healthcare systems.

Fortunately, recent computational advances allow artificial intelligence to extract the meaning from that data in better and more actionable ways than ever before. Already, mobile apps can diagnose skin cancer with expert accuracy, AI systems can diagnose heart and eye disease as well as or better than specialized physicians, and rapidly improving chatbots can dispense accurate medical advice to reach more patients in light of staffing shortages or other restrictions to healthcare access.

AI and machine learning have firmly established its place in healthcare by providing innovative and impactful solutions to dramatically improve the outcome and experience of patients—and that capability is only expected to increase in the coming years.

Wearable Medical Devices

The rise of consumerism in healthcare and continuous technological breakthroughs have intersected in the exploding use of wearable medical devices. More and more patients strive to become more active participants in their healthcare decision-making, resulting in more than 80% of consumers reporting a willingness to wear a variety of wearable medical devices.

Far more than just counting your steps, wearable devices can already function as ECG monitors that track atrial fibrillation and communicate with doctors, blood pressure, sleep, sweat, and heart monitors, and more. In addition to increasing patient engagement, early indications for improved clinical outcomes due to wearable medical technology are highly promising. For just one example, research from Augusta University Medical Center showed that the use of a wearable biosensor registered an 89% reduction in patient deterioration into preventable cardiac or respiratory arrest.

As consumer use of wearables continues to increase year after year, the door remains firmly open for future development and implementation of these devices to improve a variety of patient outcomes.

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