Current trends in healthcare


With twenty percent of the population generating eighty percent of healthcare cost, and a growing number of elderly people, public healthcare face an enormous challenge. This happens in times when healthcare focus on volume, and reactive care to acute episodes. Healthcare institutions are fragmented and function as silos, handling retrospective, if any, information. But still we are rather optimistic. This is a highly active research area, where we see a lot of groundbreaking innovation. We see three important trends: use of data, proactivity and online monitoring.

Big Data Analysis can be used both proactively and reactively, when combined with Artificial Intelligence. For example to predict outbreaks of Ebola. Today mobile phone data from travelers’ cell phones, combined with medical reports and healthcare workers’ information, is analyzed, compared, and mined for nuggets of information that will help stem the spread of the disease.

A Spanish hospital managed to decrease the number of checkups after appendectomy by replacing mandatory visits with proactive monitoring. Normal procedure was a hospital checkup on the eighth day after surgery. Instead of this time-consuming procedure they asked patients to use their smartphones to send an abdominal selfie and to fill in a questionnaire. This resulted in that only 7 % of patients needed to come in for an examination. Of course enormous savings, for both hospital and patients not missing a day of work, were achieved.

A private Medical Clinic in Sweden is setting up a program to rehabilitate patients after myocardial infarctions. The program consists of rehab exercise, dietary advice, and medical treatments. By continuously monitoring connected patients using wearables it is possible to be both proactive in adapting levels of exercise, and diet in line with patients current improvements and to maintain reactive care without several visits to the doctors office.

These are all examples where healthcare can deliver focused on: higher value rather than volume, on population instead of only acute episodes, continuous care rather than single episodes and therefore to become predictive rather than retrospective.

This might put the criticism on the number of hospital beds at New Karolinska Solna Hospital in a new perspective, perhaps they are right on track by keeping healthy patients digitally connected and monitored from home and only admitting those patients that really need it to come in for inspection and care. Lets just hope they have done their homework when it comes to automation, digitalization, and telepresence.

Martin and Agnes