Wearables, telehealth and AI -- healthcare tech predictions for 2022

Technology has had an impact on most areas of our lives. In the healthcare sector the pandemic has seen a rise in the use of remote consultations and more.

In the next year experts expect this to continue along with trends towards AI, wearables and more.

Daniel Kivatinos, co-president and co-founder of DrChrono, believes we'll see greater use of wearable technology. "Wearables can revolutionize the way we care for people with disabilities. Amazon created a new robot called 'Amazon Astro', which can help patients that are confined or home bound by assisting with tasks in the person’s home. This is a big leap forward for someone who can’t walk. Another example is Apple's AirPod; people who have been using hearing aids can use AirPods to enhance sounds when listening to music and enhance sounds in their existing environments. Imagine the possibilities that AirPods and other similar wearables can have as an essential wearable when more sensors are added. AirPods can become more than listening to music, they become 'Dr. AirPods' that can check your temperature, monitor your posture, and track other areas of your health."

Kivatinos also thinks we'll see telehealth becoming more mainstream. "Like last year, we are going to see more and more adoption of telehealth among patients and other specialties in 2022. Physicians, medical practices, urgent care clinics and care teams are turning to more virtual healthcare experiences. An Updox survey reported that 51 percent of respondents say that they would continue using telehealth services after the pandemic has ended because they like the convenience it offers. Furthermore, a recent report from McKinsey indicates that telehealth use increased 38X from the pre-COVID-19 baseline. Telehealth will become the norm in healthcare. I foresee it might even overtake normal in-person visits in specific areas like mental health and physical remote therapy."

Bala Kumar, CPO of Jumio, thinks that as digital health appointments become commonplace, the need for assurance over preventing identity fraud will grow:

With data showing that four in 10 GP appointments are still not face-to-face and with doctor's surgeries being urged to continue in this manner, the digital revolution of healthcare will continue to accelerate well into 2022.

But with such sensitive health-related issues at stake, and with the potential harm so great, knowing who a patient is online is critically important.

To prevent instances of prescription fraud in particular, online medical providers will have to implement robust ways of proving a patient is who they claim to be.

Additionally, if the government continues to push for a digital-first approach to appointments, establishing this level of trust between the patient and GP will also be vital to ensuring open-mindedness and acceptance.

We'll see increased use of AI in healthcare thinks argodesign's chief creative technologist, Jared Ficklin. "In 2022 an AI will send you a text warning you to take your allergy medicines. Healthcare systems are finally using AI and those systems have been maturing rapidly. What once crunched data for insights or attributes on patients now can model care plans. This carries with it the promises of more personalized care, simple things like prescription reminders and seasonal alerts could be done on a per patient basis. This tech ultimately could drive a constant refinement of treatment protocols, learning what works best through modeling and simulation. The net effect is fewer people needing last minute emergency treatment and better overall patient care outcomes."

Catherine Calarco of Automation Anywhere sees greater use of automation to ease workloads. "The future of healthcare is predicted to experience significant growth as overloaded healthcare workers require an outlet to alleviate their heavy workloads of administrative processes. This is where automation offers huge potential. Many aspects of healthcare processes are mundane and repetitive, such as filling out forms, transferring data between systems, finding patient data on a spreadsheet or in a database, and collecting information from multiple sources to create reports. Automating these tasks alleviates time for healthcare providers to meet with more patients, innovate and solve medical problems. As part of the value chain, medical supply, device and pharmaceutical companies continue to innovate to support healthcare through continuity of vital supplies, tracking of virtual clinical trials and enabling better patient care thru rapid adoption of intelligent automation."

Researchers at Kaspersky expect the health sector to continue to attract the attention of cybercriminals. "In the year to come, the attack vector for the healthcare sector will only continue to expand, as more patient data moves to the internet and healthcare providers continue adopting digital treatment services, such as telehealth. 2021 already saw healthcare data breaches increase by one and half times when compared to 2019. Expect attackers to search for vulnerabilities they can exploit in new wearable devices and medical applications being developed or creating fraudulent apps that users may mistakenly download. What's more, as different countries set different vaccination rules for traveling and visiting restaurants, the market for fraudulent digital vaccination passports and certificates will continue to grow."

This is echoed by HP Security Advisory Board member and partner at Deloitte, Robert Masse. "Attackers have noticed that hitting certain industries will produce a higher likelihood of payment. We could see more attacks on healthcare and education and research organizations. Threat actors may well target high risk devices, such as critical medical support systems and their supporting infrastructure, where the risk of significant harm will be highest and therefore a payout will come quickly. This has already started to happen in regions such as Canada, with surgeries being delayed due to ransomware attacks."

The team at Entrust also think protecting health-related data will be crucial. "An emphasis on data sharing is set to be prevalent in the health industry, with the rise in health-related apps leading to a crack-down in how health data is handled. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced more stringent measures for enforcing the notification of data breaches from these apps, and the measures are beginning to spark conversation about what types of health data the rule should apply to."

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