The past decade has served as a major catalyst for many of today’s advancements in healthcare. As we move into the next decade, it is important to take a look back at the research that has propelled us forward and the medicine that has set the foundation for what’s to come in 2020 and beyond.
Below are some of the hottest topics in healthcare from 2019:
1. Personalized and Precision Medicine
Personalized and precision medicine continued to make great strides in 2019, with new medicine and technology that better takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle, when it comes to preventing and treating disease. Over the last couple of years, more than one-third of FDA-approved drugs included information that identified which patients would benefit the most or would experience fewer side effects. A great example of technological innovation in this area is a software to optimize dosing, reduce adverse drug events, decrease costs and improve patient outcomes. There is also a technology that uses advanced algorithms, genomics and data from prior patients to analyze millions of cancer treatment options.
2. Cancer Breakthroughs 2020
With the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 initiative (formerly named Cancer Moonshot 2020) and innovation in cancer medicine in general, the mission to fight and ultimately cure cancer saw multiple tipping points in the past 12 months. 2019 cancer discoveries include: two subtypes of the immune system’s dendritic cells, which may give doctors more answers on why some patients respond to certain immunotherapies, and others do not; a compound that kills glioblastoma cells in a way that’s completely different from previous treatments; a newly devised rectal cancer model that mimics the real thing; and a better understanding of the mutations in the FOXA1 gene, which cause 12% of all prostate cancers. The additional push for research and innovation has paved a way for additional treatment options beyond chemotherapy and immunotherapy to muscle their way through; one such approach that is making significant strides is cancer metabolism.
3. On-Demand Healthcare
On-demand healthcare and telehealth platforms connect patients with available healthcare providers, data and tools through websites and mobile apps in real-time. Today’s consumer places deep value on their time, while also holding high expectations when it comes to services; and with more physicians experiencing burnout the increased adoption of telehealth is poised to continue to fill a major gap in our healthcare system. While mobile health (mHealth) apps have been available since smartphones first made their debut, their abilities have greatly evolved. Today, there are apps that connect with devices to read everything from blood sugar to body temperature or ones that can provide personalized medical answers to your questions instead of asking Dr. Google. Technology has gotten so advanced that vitals can now be detected through video of a person’s face – with no contact with the body at all!
4. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to expand across a myriad of areas in healthcare. In addition to enabling many of the aforementioned technologies, AI is also being used in detecting cancer and diagnosing mental illness and has also shown promise in predicting the best course of treatment for cancer. AI is also being used to aid the business side of healthcare. As AI becomes more integrated within operations it is expected to result in $18 billion in savings for the healthcare industry by automating administrative tasks.
5. Health Wearables
Health wearables continue to grow by leaps and bounds. While the Apple Watch launched in 2015 and Fitbit dates even further back to 2009, we see how much wearable technology continues to advance, and the demand is only growing stronger. Just recently, news surfaced around an upcoming clothing and accessory line with wearable tech to eliminate stress, such as a shirt to signal breathing techniques and a headband that utilizes infrared light to reduce symptoms of stress. While the demand for wearables largely lies in the consumer sector among those who are interested in monitoring their own health, the benefit of sharing the data with healthcare providers can serve as primary intel to better understand diagnosis and treatment.
Overall, 2019 (along with the entire decade) proved that healthcare is forever evolving and the lines between other sectors, such as technology, are quickly beginning to blur. We look forward to seeing what 2020 holds and continuing to work with the many companies that will help shape the new decade!