KEY POINTS

  • Health care is already being transformed by the introduction of digital technologies, but the pace and scope of that transformation is set to increase in the years to come.
  • Technology in the medical sector will enable enhanced record-keeping, better and smarter alerting, and new and improved means of monitoring patient conditions.
  • Three central aspects of health care have already seen some development, but are set to experience major digital disruption in the years ahead:
    • Clinical care: The introduction of new technology like connected devices will transform hospitals and doctors' offices by introducing automated monitoring and recording protocols, alerting solutions, and increasing data analytics.
    • Electronic health records: Many in the health care space have spoken to the benefits of electronic and shared medical records to allow for greater awareness of patient conditions and overall wellness.
    • Care beyond the clinic: Members of the medical community and patients are looking more toward connected devices and digital monitoring tools to gauge conditions, activity, and overall health as patients go about their lives.
  • At the same time, digitization in health care will face a number of roadblocks:
    • Regulation: The health care sector is highly regulated to protect private medical data and ensure connected devices are safe, making it a difficult landscape to navigate.
    • Staff buy-in: Medical professionals are generally older and can be set in their ways, blocking swift workflow transformations even if they promise to improve patient outcomes.
    • Privacy worries: Health care companies have seen massive breaches in recent years, while connected devices, in health and other areas, have been hacked very publicly. Patients may worry about entrusting their health to electronic records and digital devices.
  • Overall, digital technology in health care is set to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes in a vital sector where spending is projected to rise to $8.7 trillion globally by 2020.

Introduction

Health care is in a state of flux, driven by the confluence of technological and regulatory change. It’s a multi-trillion-dollar behemoth of the global economy — but it has a complicated relationship with technology, embracing some innovative tools while resisting others. Whether patients and their doctors are ready or not, though, digital disruption in health care will only accelerate in the years ahead.

Technology has always played a vitally important role in helping people live longer, healthier, and happier lives. It [...]