TechRepublic: 7 Predictions for How Technology Will Shape Healthcare in 2021

By Veronica Combs

From the COVID-19 vaccine to advances in machine learning, AI, improved W-Fi and 5G, and telemedicine, experts expect a move to “patient-centric” health next year.

COVID-19 accomplished what entrepreneurs, doctors, and activists couldn’t: Designing a healthcare system that works for patients instead of providers and health insurance companies.

The industry promised to be “patient-centered” for the last decade but only the harsh demands of COVID-19 have made this a reality. As Ian McCrae, CEO of Orion Health, described it, COVID-19 is ushering in the long-overdue transformation of the healthcare system and, finally, a move to “patient-centric” health.

“There will be a dramatic shift in health IT spend away from large, monolithic hospital upgrades, towards digital front doors into healthcare,” McCrae said.

This means better data sharing, a universal rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, operationalized machine learning, and more options for mental healthcare.

Here are seven predictions for how technology will shape healthcare in 2021.

Operationalizing machine learning and artificial intelligence

Art Papier, CEO and co-founder, VisualDx, said that 2020 marked a real turning point for artificial intelligence in healthcare. This trend showed up in the form of basic chatbots and symptom screeners in the early months of the pandemic. These tools have increased the overall acceptance of AI which will fuel the adoption of more advanced AI in 2021, Papier said.

“Specifically, physicians will leverage mature diagnostic tools in the exam room to overcome a range of challenges that impede fast, accurate decision-making: racial bias embedded in our healthcare system, the need to discern COVID symptoms from other diseases within the differential diagnosis, and more,” he said.

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