April 7, 2023
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve with the help of AI and technological advancements, the dream of #healthcareforall is becoming more attainable. M&A activity is playing a pivotal role in moving the industry forward through critical consolidation and sector cross-pollination.
On this Global Healthcare Day (7 April), Translink healthcare expert group co-heads, Jens Borelli-Kjær and Rebecca Zhu, share their insights on some of the AI successes they’ve seen in recent years and their forecasts for the future.
These examples demonstrate how fast the development is taking place:
- The unprecedented growth of Telehealth: Covid-19 catalysed a proliferation of telehealth platforms providing daily diagnostic- as well as psychological and nutrition services. In China, Ping An Good Doctor the nation’s largest health care platform grew to over 440 million users registered. Telemedicine platforms partnered with a wide range of practitioners to provide a full spectrum of care, from doctors diagnosing to pharmacies delivering medications to the door. This was especially important for people with chronic conditions during the pandemic, who couldn’t leave the house to pick up their medications. AI has also been crucial for remote patient monitoring during this period.
- Treatment adherence apps: Patient treatment apps have also become increasingly popular, with apps integrated with smart devices – for example, there is now FDA clearance on a smart phone app by Tandem Diabetes Care that controls an insulin delivery device.
- Efficiency optimisation: A few decades ago, all patient files were physical, paper files. Now, in many countries, patient files are online and accessible across hospitals and primary healthcare systems, and link into drugstores for prescriptions to optimise efficiency, quality of care and to reduce the risk of errors.
- Image is everything: The dramatic improvement in image analysis has seen AI used for example, to diagnose dermatological diseases from skin images, and ophthalmic issues from retina scans.
- Voice recognition: Danish company, Corti, is using voice recognition and machine learning to prompt emergency operators responding to 911 calls to ask the right questions. The AI ‘listens in’ and shares questions to ask about symptoms in real time. This improves the quality of response and helps train the operators.
- The cure for cancer? There’s much optimism that the messenger RNA (MRNA) technology used for Covid-19 vaccines could one day be harnessed to treat all manner of diseases, from cancers to HIV/ Aids. It could also play a pivotal part in the advancement of personalised medicine.
- Robotic surgery: Surgery is becoming minimally invasive as surgeons increasingly rely on 3D glasses, AI, robotics, and virtual reality to operate with maximum efficiency and gentleness.
What is next?
Looking ahead, AI will drive new frontiers in big data analysis capabilities and machine learning, impacting diagnostic efficiency, drug development, and medical imaging. This will not jeopardize medical professionals’ jobs but empower them to provide better quality care and treatments. Furthermore, AI will help capacitate the healthcare sector, which is crucial given the aging global population, facilitating growing life expectancy, and providing opportunities for the industry.
M&A will continue to be a catalyst to move the healthcare sector forward and accelerate its AI and tech adoption, especially in the service side of the industry. Hopefully, it will help to make a future possible where there is adequate #HealthcareforAll.
Cross-pollination between industries will increase, enabling companies to accrue the tech, software, and talent capabilities they need. US company Teladoc, for example, has conducted over 10 acquisitions in the last few years to diversify its doctors and enrich its services.
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