The healthcare field is rapidly changing. From new and improved treatments to better patient care, many amazing advances are being made. The Global healthcare IT market is expected to hit $280 billion by 2021; this is in part due to the demand to lower health care costs and provide a more efficient system for both patients and practitioners.

The Asia Pacific region has the fastest-growing market for healthcare IT; According to an article published by healthcare-informatics, the rapid growth in the Asia Pacific region is “primarily due to the increasing healthcare expenditure, rising medical tourism, government initiatives to create eHealth platforms, and growth in the overall healthcare industry.”

The article goes on to say, “In addition, increasing investments in the healthcare industry by key market players, rising demand for advanced healthcare technologies, and expansion of private sector hospitals to rural areas in countries such as China, Taiwan, and India are driving the growth of this region.”

With a rapidly growing Global Healthcare IT market, it will be beneficial to stay ahead of the curve in this growing industry. Here are seven health innovations you will want to be aware of:

1. Help for Those with Type 1 Diabetes

A great thing happened in 2016: The FDA approved research into what is called a hybrid closed-loop insulation delivery system. What does that mean? To answer that question we must look at a standard situation first. There are three factors to treating diabetes: glucose monitoring through testing, insulin, and self-testing frequently throughout the day and using the results to determine how much insulin to inject.

The Omnipod Hybrid Closed Loop System, created by the Insulet Corporation, takes the self-testing and injection factor out of that equation. A sensor–the continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM)–keeps track of the patient’s glucose levels, and then automated insulin pumps administer the right amount of insulin as needed throughout the day.

The only thing the patient has to do is a few sticks a day for calibration. Studies show that this type of system–hailed by some as an artificial pancreas–decreases hypoglycemia and increases the patient’s time in the ideal glucose range, especially overnight when patients are usually sleeping.

This could be great news for those who live with Type 1 Diabetes and the struggles that go along with it.

2. Increased Access to Medications

Hate waiting in line at the pharmacy? Well, there are new alternatives–at least in New York City, where Medly pharmacy same day delivery for free and offers an app for prescription management. Rather than dealing with a pharmacy where you have to go pick up your meds, and deal with out of stock meditations, Medly offers a digital experience, a secure delivery system, and different packaging options.

Just like any other pharmacy, you can tell your doctor to send your prescription to Medly at your office visit, or you can transfer prescriptions to Medly from any pharmacy that you’ve used in the past. Think of a “set it and forget it” mentality for managing your prescriptions.

Also read: Restorative Innovation movement offers a new narrative, with focus on health, humanity, and environment

3. Innovations in Treating Sleep Apnea

For some people, a CPAP machine means a better night’s sleep–not only for its wearer but for everyone in the household who has been kept awake by their snoring. However, for some, it is a cumbersome device that is not only inconvenient but does not always work for them.

The good news is that soon, with a small surgical implant created by Inspire Sleep, you won’t need a mask. An implant is placed in your upper airway, and when a sensor in the device detects that your airway is obstructed, a small stimulation that feels like a tingling sensation–if you are even awake to feel it–opens your airway. The device allows you to breathe better and stop snoring; and works on around 79% of patients who have tried it, which is good news for anyone who suffers from sleep apnea.

4. Mental Health to Mental Fitness

UMA Health is a health tech startup based in New York that is essentially a mental health marketplace. UMA Health recently named Dave Kerpen, serial entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, as their interim CEO. Kerpen has been passionate about the mental health field for a while, but what really sets UMA apart is confidentiality and the use of technology.

The reason? According to the National Alliance for Mental Health, one in five adults deals with anxiety and depression, but 60% of those don’t feel comfortable talking with their employer about it. UMA allows patients to find mental health professionals and executive coaches, book appointments, and pay for them without the hassles of insurance; this ensures the patient’s security and confidentiality.

The next step? Kerpen intends to broaden the program by offering a platform for companies to essentially purchase mental health and executive coaching stipends for their employees at a discount. The employee’s confidentiality is preserved, the company gets happier and mentally healthy employees, and the services are offered to employees outside the typical bounds of insurance, potentially saving both employee and employer a great deal of money.

There is technological innovation happening in the mental health space, and UMA is at the forefront.

Also read: This Surabaya-based startup is tackling depression by providing easier access to mental health services

5. Diagnosis and Treatment from Anywhere (Telemedicine)

Health care screenings conducted virtually are becoming more common, and hospitals are getting ready for them to be even more so.

Nearly 90% of healthcare executives reported to have or be currently building a telehealth program. It is anticipated that there will be 7 million patient-users in 2018, a 19-fold increase from 2013. Why is this becoming so easy?

Because new technology is expanding beyond the simple two-way video platform, there are more attachable devices available for patients that record and report vitals or postoperative progress to doctors. There are even apps available on devices like the Apple Watch and FitBit that enable this same monitoring. Over 19 million patients are projected to use remote monitoring devices that feed information to their doctors in 2018, including ones they purchase themselves and wear daily. Companies like Pager are innovating in the area of patient communication, clinical workflow, and even the integration of artificial intelligence into telemedicine.

Telemedicine also affects research. Apple, in cooperation with several universities, is conducting a voluntary health study in which the Apple Watch transmits heart data anonymously to the researchers, allowing them to learn more about heart arrhythmia, resting heart rates, and heart rate recovery times for those who are more or less active.

These devices and telemedicine may change the way we see the doctor, how often we see the doctor, and how easy it is for doctors to modify or change our prescription medications.

6. Easier Recovery from Surgery

EnCare, a healthcare company, is a premier provider of what is being called Enhanced or Fast Track Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). Recently, comprehensive research has indicated that this methodology, which permits patients to eat before surgery, limits opioids by prescribing alternative medications, and encourages regular walking, reduces complication rates, and accelerates recovery after surgery.

The type of treatment after surgery reduces the likelihood of blood clots, nausea, prevents infection, decreases muscle atrophy, reduces the length of hospital stays and more. Patients are also given a post-operative nutrition plan to accelerate recovery. Alternative medicines are reducing the need to prescribe narcotics; this is an innovation that will continue to improve over time and make the road to recovery shorter and easier to navigate.

7. Alternative Vaccination Methods

Why are vaccines so frequently skipped and hard to get spread over large areas quickly? Because people hate needles. If they can skip a vaccine, they do. Some don’t get flu shots annually for that reason alone.

The answer? New distribution methods, through skin patches or even chewable tablets or pills a patient can swallow. There are several companies like TechnoVax pioneering this technology now, and within the next two years, the flu vaccine may be available in a wearable bandage instead of a shot; this technology, already in use with some medications, may revolutionise how prescriptions are administered in the future.

The takeaway

The world of healthcare is continually evolving, and new technologies are emerging by the dozens. These seven innovations are ones that will affect all of us–sooner rather than later too. Are you ready for the next big breakthrough?

Let us know if we missed any innovations in the comments below!

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