Historically, healthcare, which is considered one of the last industries to adapt to any changes, is adopting technology at a phenomenal rate. Technology is driving meaningful chances and benefiting patients, healthcare developers and healthcare providers.
Here are four healthcare technology trends disrupting the industry and some of what lies in store in 2019.
1. Internet of medical things (IoMT)
A number of medical devices have been developed, which track and record the health and fitness data of the wearer. With numerous built-in sensors, such as ECG monitor, blood glucose and blood pressure monitors, these medical devices have numerous applications.
Data collected by these devices is used by mobile applications to monitor the health status of the individuals and to detect abnormalities as soon as they occur.
In 2019, IoMT will not only be limited to wearable devices. Here are some ways this technology will transform:
Management of chronic diseases: IoMT is completely changing the way chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and organ failure, are managed. Using precision sensors that the patient wears at all times, the medical data can be constantly tracked, and in case of an anomaly, can immediately raise alerts. Additionally, the data sets of these chronic disease trends across various populations can help in predicting disease progression and patterns.
Remote patient monitoring: The data collected by IoMT devices is of great value to the physicians. Instead of having to rely on the patients to share subjective symptoms, the healthcare providers can remotely monitor the patient and access relevant data, thereby giving a more accurate diagnosis, resulting in better outcomes.
Elderly patient care: Along with tracking vitals, IoMT will prove to be important for better patient compliance to ensure that the medicines are taken consistently. For the elderly, mobility is yet another challenge. In the coming times, the portable diagnostic devices would reduce the number of visits to the doctor, thereby lowering overall healthcare costs.
Many of us are very familiar with long delays at the doctor's office, not to mention the disruption it adds to one's day (scheduling time off from work) when visiting the doctor. Telemedicine, by giving the option of a virtual at-home consultation, negates the need for visiting the doctor's office. This saves time and resources while making scheduling more efficient.
Telemedicine has been around for three decades now. However, with the entry of video conferencing, wearable devices and widespread use of smartphones, telemedicine has been brought to the forefront of healthcare technology.
Until now, the major application of telemedicine is remote consultation with the physician. This year, we can expect additional benefits from telemedicine:
Mobile health: Rapid advancements in the healthcare app space are nowhere close to slowing down. Apple has introduced its open-source software frameworks Carekit and ResearchKit for app developers to build healthcare apps and contribute to medical research. With the focus of providing personalized care to patients and of using the collected data for early diagnosis and treatment, mobile health will lead to better outcomes in 2019.
Post-discharge patient monitoring: Telemedicine plays a positive role in managing chronic diseases by remote patient monitoring (RPM). This further reduces the patient readmission rates. Healthcare providers are using RPM systems as a part of the post-discharge plan to ensure effective discharge prophylaxis.
In 2019, there will be new entrants into the market. The implementation challenge that remains is providing real-time access to doctors and care to prevent a medical emergency long before it occurs.
The healthcare industry is adopting gamification in medical training, fitness, disease prevention and cognitive health. Using challenges, rewards, badges, mastery levels and competition, users can be engaged and motivated to achieve their goals, which could range from chronic disease management to tracking how much time they've exercised.
The first wave of mobile apps using gamification was focused on lifestyle, nutrition, weight management, obesity and fitness wearables. Devices such as Fitbit and Nike+Fuelband enable users to track their daily health metrics, provide challenges and rewards and share these statistics with their network.
Disease prevention: Chronic diseases require constant testing and monitoring for patients to adhere to schedules, which many people find difficult. A video game Re-Mission educates kids and adults with cancer to take on the fight of their lives. To encourage adherence to the treatment, the game provides a bot, Roxxi, which fights through the bodies of fictional cancer patients to give them a sense of power and control, based on scientific research. The arsenal of weapons and superpowers include chemotherapy, antibiotics and the body's natural in-built defenses.
Cognitive and mental health: SPARX is a computer program developed by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, to help young people (12 to 19 years old) with mild to moderate depression. It is based on cognitive behavioral therapy for dealing with depression.
According to Fluentco, smartphones are the most popular devices with millennials, with seven out of eight millennials owning one. Millennials and Gen Z, who account for 31.5 and 32 percent, respectively, of the total global population have grown up playing games and are accustomed to mobile apps. Healthcare companies must consider gamification as a tactic to keep the millennial users involved in their health and fitness programs.
4. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) consultants are using various techniques to dig out clinically relevant information, of importance in clinical decision-making, from the heaps of healthcare data they possess. They are divided into two categories: machine learning and natural language processing.
This year, AI is set to disrupt how the healthcare systems work, connect with patients and increases the overall patient management efficiency.
Applications of AI in healthcare in 2019 include:
Voice-based assistants: It is a common habit to use Siri or Alexa to complete routine tasks at home. AI will make a similar transition in the field of healthcare by introducing healthcare-based virtual assistants that will help healthcare providers prioritize tasks and automate routine processes.
Medical imaging: The biggest potential of healthcare AI is the automation of analysis of medical images. By statistically analyzing the prevalence of disease across populations, predictive analysis of a medical condition becomes easier. Where there is an unavailability of trained personnel or access to medical facilities is difficult, this can be of great use. Various institutes are carrying out research in this space.
Medical research: AI can process a large amount of data that is not humanly possible in a short time span. This processed data can be used to identify population trends over geographies. AI can sift through research data at an unprecedented speed and discover hidden patterns in a much more accurate way.
Advances in healthcare technology are just the tip of the iceberg. Healthcare is poised to revolutionize itself into a number of exciting opportunities in the coming year.
With buyers having dozens of options in any given niche, your company's branding is the one thing that compels customers to choose you over your competition. This is why branding is now more important than it ever was.
Not so long ago, branding was known as just a business's name, logo, design, packaging and messaging, which helped consumers distinguish it from its competition. You probably still think the same, but it's much more complicated now, especially when you put e-commerce into the equation. Platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce have made it so almost anyone with basic operating skills can start their own online stores.
As a result, more people are jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon. If you are considering starting an online store or already have one, this is something you should really take into consideration, simply because any niche you are in is bound to get saturated over time.
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So what can you do to stand out? The answer is simple: Build a brand with a message so powerful that no one can touch you. Branding gives consumers perception of a company and its products when they simply hear the name. These companies have built their brand in such a way that when you think of these product types, the first thing that comes to mind is that company.
What should a brand do?
A common mistake is thinking that branding allows a company to stand out from its competition. That's true to some extent, but the essence of branding is making your consumers think that you are the sole provider of the solution to their problem in that specific category.
This is even more pronounced in e-commerce. Because you sell everything online, you need a solid audience base that knows and trusts your brand and keeps coming back to your business.
According to Cube, 48 percent of consumers expect brands to know them and help them discover services and products that fit their needs. So what does this mean for you? It means 1 out of every 2 customers you get is likely to be a repeat buyer from your brand.
Knowing this, these are the objectives of a successful e-commerce brand.
1. A clear message of what the company represents across all platforms
With e-commerce being such a competitive industry, you need to have an immediately recognizable brand message that is clearly communicated to your customers in the blink of an eye – a marketing message that hits them between the eyes, builds excitement and desire, and helps you convey exactly what kind of business you are right out of the gate.
This goes far beyond a simple logo and tagline. It needs to permeate every single touch you have with your market. Make sure that your message is clear and consistent across the board and you'll boost conversions overnight.
2. Credibility in the marketplace (ideally, good reviews)
Today's consumer is overloaded with opportunities to purchase anything and everything they might be interested in, commoditizing industries that never would have thought they could be reduced to this kind of competition.
Credibility is king when you're looking to convince total strangers to give you their hard-earned money. Customer reviews are a fantastic example of credibility and social proof, two cornerstones of branding that will boost your bottom line.
3. An emotional connection to the core audience with the services or products
Customers need to rationalize their purchases. They won't gear up to buy something unless you can generate a desire for whatever it is you offer at your online shop.
You need to play up positive emotions with your branding, conveying that you are the kind of business these customers want to work with. Walmart and Neiman Marcus may sell similar things and are both department stores, but they generate completely different emotions in the people who shop there.
4. Aligned product offerings
The fastest way to build out your profits is to sell more things to customers you've already done business with, and that's only going to be possible when you have a variety of different products built to work with one another.
This kind of vertical product construction makes upselling, cross-selling, downselling and partner selling a lot easier. You'll be able to dramatically improve the lifetime customer value of each and every transaction, padding your profits without jacking up your marketing and advertising expenses along the way.
5. A loyal fan base that will stick with the brand no matter what
In today's ultracompetitive and fractured marketplace, the most valuable business asset you'll ever create is a loyal fan base that is dedicated to your brand through thick and thin.
Think about the kinds of customers companies like Apple, Microsoft, Harley-Davidson and professional sports teams have. These are the kinds of customers who go out and tattoo branding logos on their bodies and wouldn't dream of jumping ship on "their" company to shop with competitors.
6. A large social media following
It wasn't so long ago that social media was considered nothing more than a time-waster for the millennial generation, but today we understand it to be one of the most powerful forms of word-of-mouth advertising and a key part of any savvy marketing campaign.
One of my favorite brands that really showcases how it should be done is Velvet Caviar. Just take a look at its Instagram and you will get an idea of how to fully utilize a large social media following. In today's world, a large social media following alone won't cut it. You need to connect with your audience and make them feel like they are part of something special by regularly showcasing loyal fans on your Instagram.
The more social media followers you have across all major platforms, the more opportunities you have to market your e-commerce products. Work on developing real rapport with your market and showcasing your brand personality through your social media efforts and you'll find that converting strangers into customers becomes a whole lot easier.
7. Top-of-the-line customer support
Customer service and support used to be a bit of an afterthought, something that companies had to do but didn't devote a ton of resources to. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Top-notch customer support earns a mountain of goodwill on social media and in reviews, and that's always going to win more business. Customers on the fence about doing business with you feel a lot more comfortable making that first purchase when they know you are in their corner and have their best interests at heart.
Branding and customers
All things considered, it's incredibly important to find the perfect way to blend your business's brand and your marketplace. Pull this off successfully and you will enjoy the kind of financial future that most other e-commerce shops never make a reality.
At the end of the day, your customers can make or break your brand. So the first thing you need to do when creating a brand is understand the needs and wants of your prospects. Once you have a clear understanding of this, you can make a connection with your target audience on an emotional level that will help your company thrive.