Towards 2020: Big Tech developments predicted to impact healthcare delivery

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”175″ /]Healthcare doesn’t stand outside major technology trends, and two we’ve covered extensively are machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), which this Editor observed [TTA 3 Feb] may beat out Massive Data Crunchers like IBM Watson Health for many diagnoses. What has been ‘bubbling up’ in the past year is blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin which is a ‘distributed, secure transaction ledger’ that uses a private key. Each record block has an identifying hash that links each block into a virtual chain [TTA 16 July]. Brian Ahier, Director of Standards and Government Affairs at Medicity, Aetna’s data analytics/population health subsidiary, predicts in Health Data Management that both will be the Big Trends for the next three years, with a substantial discussion behind both, particularly AI (though citing global equity funding of $1.5 bn in AI for healthcare since 2012 seems a paltry reinforcement). There are links to two blockchain studies from Deloitte and IEEE (requires subscription or purchase) for further reference. Two other bonuses: a link to New School’s Melanie Swan’s blockchain blog with four potential uses in healthcare and a Gartner hype cycle chart (left above) identifying both machine learning and blockchain (distributed ledger) near the peak of the curve. His third trend, digital transformation, is less a trend than an admonition that our present business structures need to change, that they must realize the potential of fully utilizing data, and to consider the customer experience.

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  1. Thanks for reading my article and I appreciate your analysis. I would not consider $1.5B paltry though, as these are investments in startup companies. If you look at corporate investments in AI for healthcare (IBM, Microsoft, DeepMind to name a few) I think you would find there is significant investment that has built a strong foundation for widespread deployment of machine learning technology throughout healthcare within an eighteen month timeframe. Blockchain of course, is going to sneak up on a lot of people – many decision makers scoffed a year ago when I would even mention it and now large health systems and payers are beginning development, alongside financial institutions like Capital One and J.P. Morgan. With regards to digital business transformation, I would call that a trend (certainly not a technology in itself) – the editors made up the title and it has caused some confusion, but I would urge a careful reading of the excellent report from MIT Sloan:
    Nine Elements of Digital Transformation

  2. Donna Cusano

    Brian, thanks for your comments. I guess my investment view has been slightly distorted by the payer breakups in the multiple billions! What is likely to happen is a hockey-stick type of curve in both AI and blockchain over the next two years. The fact that both are major topics at HIMSS17, here in NY with MedStartr and upcoming at ATA, which is a fairly conservative organization, are indicators that both are of great interest and ‘need to understand’.