Virtual care was growing in popularity before COVID-19 happened, but the pandemic heightened the need to conveniently provide easily accessible medical services without the need of having to meet in person.
Prior to the pandemic, it was previously expected to have taken an entire decade for the healthcare industry to reach the level of technological adoption it has today. But the healthcare industry still has a long way to go when it comes to technology.
Recent developments in robotics, 3D, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) have set the healthcare industry up for massive innovation and improvement.
Which Technology is Vital for Innovation in Healthcare?
Technological advancements in healthcare are being propelled forward at an unprecedented rate because of the launch of 5G. 5G networks have the capability to enhance everything that is connected to the cloud. This opens up a world of opportunity for technology investors interested in the healthcare sector.
Touted for its unparalleled speed and lower latency, 5G can handle 1,000 times the volume of data compared to 4G. In practical terms, over 3G networks, response time is roughly 120 milliseconds, and 4G response time between 15 and 60 milliseconds. The response time with 5G is just 1 millisecond, or one one-thousandth of a second, virtually instantaneous. In fact, for critical healthcare applications, cutting latency to one millisecond will be a game-changer for remote coordination and operations.
These may be small differences when loading a website or downloading a movie or video game, but they are not so imperceptible for those working in healthcare. For a doctor performing long-distance heart surgery using a robot hundreds of miles away, that latency could mean the difference between life and death.
Because 5G provides the healthcare industry with near real-time data and the ability to make split-second decisions, it is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of the 5G market.
How Will Technology Benefit Healthcare?
AI, ML, and Predictive Analytics
The healthcare industry creates mountains of valuable data. And technology companies that can help the healthcare industry mine and extract valuable insights from that data, using advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for predictive analytics, can help enable life-saving predictions.
Ochsner Health System in Jefferson, Louisiana uses an AI tool that helps doctors predict when a patient is about to suffer cardiac or respiratory arrest. The early-warning technology is a partnership among the health system, Microsoft Azure cloud computing technology, and electronic health record vendor Epic.
IoT and Wearables
Healthcare wearables are able to track everything from blood pressure, to heart rate, COVID-19 symptoms, reproductive cycles, and chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, in real time.
A growing number of healthcare technology providers are already in the process of conducting research, running pilot projects, or monitoring patients who are testing smart wearables.
AbbVie successfully ran three pilot projects with wearables to measure sleep quality and itching in patients with atopic dermatitis, to conduct trials for those with advanced Parkinson’s disease, and in trials for those with Multiple Sclerosis.
Peloton has entered the space, as well, with the acquisition of Atlas Wearables, maker of a heart rate monitor.
AI, AR, and VR
AI, AR, VR, and spatial computing is opening a new world of opportunities for patient care and medical training with potential applications for performing remote operations and simulating medical scenarios.
Big tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google, have already begun to make their mark in healthcare innovation with developments in AI, AR, VR and cloud computing technology.
Microsoft’s Hololens technology is being explored for use in providing remote medical care for non-operative and surgical case studies. Google has begun a project, Medical Digital Assist, with Stanford Medicine to explore using AI to improve visits to the doctor.
The pandemic may have made it easier for us to accept the idea that early adoption of healthcare technology may be just what the doctor ordered. Accessing telehealth services and using wearable devices have become so commonplace nowadays, it would be interesting to see just how far this innovation trajectory can take us.
Investing in Healthcare with LIFE ETF
One way to simplify investing in the cutting-edge healthcare industry is through an ETF. A healthcare ETF offers a diversified portfolio of holdings in healthcare stocks. ETFs ensure that your risk is diversified, but that you are still invested in blue-chip names that you trust.
Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (LIFE ETF) provides investors with exposure to twenty global blue-chip companies in the healthcare industry, with a covered call strategy that is actively managed to provide increased yield potential while helping mitigate risk. LIFE ETF is available in hedged, unhedged and USD classes, as well as mutual fund versions.
To stay updated with insights on investing and industry updates on related investment products, sign up for our weekly newsletter here.
*Note: All figures in USD, unless otherwise mentioned.