The Convergence of Technology and Healthcare

We saw the changes to our lives with the Covid-19 pandemic playing the role of catalyst for changes in life sciences and healthcare. This article will discuss how new technologies, including blockchain, cybersecurity, and the needed talent behind these, are impacting the medical sector.

Recent Changes to Healthcare

We have seen how the past few years have been shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted and revolutionized nearly every sector of our economy. 

When we look at monetary investment, it’s evident that technology spending is focused on healthcare. A report from Bain and Co found that even with economic uncertainty, healthcare is still planning to invest in tech, with software being a top five strategic priority for 80% of providers and a top three for 40%. 

This spending is for several reasons: efficiency, cost reduction, and telemedicine, whether by phone or video. Heavy technology investment in the era of Covid-19 caused healthcare to leapfrog into patients’ homes. 

These changes will be the driver of healthcare’s growth for the next few years. Yet we need to have a strong understanding of how the consumer fits into this system of delivering service, what their preferences are, and the new habits they are forming.

Once Before, in the 1920s

Periods of economic and geopolitical uncertainty have led to healthcare advancements. 

In the 1920s, there were many geopolitical tensions that eventually led to wars, but throughout the decade and the rest of the 20th century, there were remarkable advances in medicine. 

The construction of hospitals that followed the passing of the Hill-Burton Act in 1946 made the foundation of our current health delivery system, the same way we saw our highway system and other infrastructure change the face of America and its economy. We’ll likely see a similar change around needed vaccines and other due innovations. 

Rather than creating roads, bridges, and buildings, we’ll see digital infrastructure. Out of the discovery of the first mRNA Covid vaccines, we’ll find many ways to accelerate the process through biotechnology and innovation. Technology is an added dimension to healthcare innovation that has appeared out of the Covid turmoil. When technology is added to the mix, we’re going to see some fantastic opportunities.  

The Covid Cause

It’s remarkable to think that a significant, globally impacting event is a catalyst that accelerates healthcare sector tech investment. If the necessary Covid closures were only for a single week, many of these changes would not have resulted. 

Doctor visits would have been pushed back for that week instead of finding a remote solution that was needed to provide the required services and the resulting changed behaviors they have brought. The R&D plans that are now part of biotech and medical companies would likely not have manifested. 

But we see that necessity is the mother of innovation, and because of Covid-19, these changes are incorporated and permanent. Many experts believe that the two years of Covid moved the industry ahead 5 to 10 years.

A Move Toward NFTs in Healthcare

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have been an investment darling in the art world but have yet to gain prominence much outside that and the collecting arenas. This lack of diversified uses is starting to change. Healthcare is up next. 

NFTs are an exciting area for healthcare services. It’s easy to imagine a world where an NFT can become a patient’s profile in healthcare. An NFT profile has the capability to carry personal information such as the entire genome and all medical history and payment information as a unique footprint.

An NFT can also provide the owner with a pathway to get them into the healthcare system and provide them with services. This information can be combined with the banking system making their help more viable. Imagine a health saving account tied directly to the NFT through an oracle (a third-party gateway).  

This will be able to allow someone to fund their health savings account through their W2-qualifying job. Charges that fit under the account can be automatically withdrawn. 

This kind of payment system is just starting to happen on the municipal level. Cities like New York and Miami have begun to move toward such a system, with Philadelphia and Dearborn, Michigan, signaling similar moves. It’s not far-fetched to imagine a similar action to healthcare payments. 

Cybersecurity in Healthcare

When there is human involvement, there is the potential for security vulnerabilities. The second issue that all companies are dealing with is finding the right talent that is capable of building systems and products able to protect company and personal data. There is an ongoing global shortage of nearly 3.5 million cybersecurity professionals across all industries, with 700,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the US.  

Cybersecurity for healthcare also requires the development of technicians that can play defense, quickly responding to cyberattacks in real-time. Hacking is accelerating and is a top risk profile for many companies, not just in tech. 

Interestingly, one of hacking’s growing tools, AI, may also be its best solution as more information and services are digitized. Significant investment is happening in software projects that help protect and defend all data. In November 2022, Crunchbase showed 258 privacy startups that have raised over $4.3 billion, with $800 million of this total raised in the last year.  

Life sciences and healthcare are industries that drive policies and security. Many boards and audit committees in the healthcare and life science sectors are attempting to identify various cyber risks and vulnerabilities. It’s fully expected that the demand for cyber-fluent personnel will increase dramatically. 

Permanent Changes Coming to Healthcare

Tech is now taking over in several areas, including consumer electronics. Wearables and connected devices are becoming a more common source of medical information. Alivecor’s KardiaMobile device is a 6-lead EKG that can send information via smartphone directly to the patient’s cardiologist for review.  

Source: Alivecor

The Las Vegas consumer electronics show is filled with sensors, apps, and embedded personalization. This expansion of devices for our health will only increase as the 5G networks expand their reach across the United States. The impacts will be wide-ranging, but ultimately focus on enhancing our lives through tech. 

One crucial, long-term benefit is that we are now seeing the healthcare economy moving from a sickness focus to a wellness mindset. This change is easier to accomplish with technology as we can monitor our health and see when things change.  

The healthcare sector will first see a move toward modernization in human resources, finance, and procurement through cloud services. Moving all legacy enterprise systems to the cloud will take nearly ten years. 

Next, innovation must tackle the back office to front office connection, including consumer-level devices. We have been discussing healthcare costs for decades, and the tech is now available to make it more efficient. This change can drive out costs and potentially deliver care to all.  

Closing Thoughts

Technology in healthcare has been accelerated by Covid-19, pushing digital health access, and drug and vaccine innovation. These trends are altering research and development pathways for healthcare. 

NFTs have begun to enter the healthcare space and, in the future, will likely be a secure way to provide needed information to providers, including genome and medical history. Cybersecurity issues will come to the forefront in healthcare tech with more need for talent and solutions to keep users’ data secure. 

This need for talent will include the opportunity for tech to provide equitable solutions that lower costs and bring healthcare to all. A process of modernization that puts enterprise services on the cloud will be the biggest change we will see. Further, it will promote a focus of wellness over sickness as consumer devices become ubiquitous. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely the author’s opinion and not investment advice – it is provided for educational purposes only. By using this, you agree that the information does not constitute any investment or financial instructions. Do conduct your own research and reach out to financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

The author of this text, Jean Chalopin, is a global business leader with a background encompassing banking, biotech, and entertainment.  Mr. Chalopin is Chairman of Deltec International Group,

The co-author of this text, Robin Trehan, has a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s in international business and finance, and an MBA in electronic business.  Mr. Trehan is a Senior VP at Deltec International Group,

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries, and/or its employees.