A big healthcare system well known for its annual forecast of emerging trends that will significantly impact healthcare in the next year has named artificial intelligence and virtual reality as two of the those trends.

A big healthcare system well known for its annual forecast of emerging trends that will significantly impact healthcare in the next year has named artificial intelligence as one of the those trends.

Each year in October The Cleveland Clinic releases its annual  list of top 10 medical innovation trends and artificial intelligence, or intelligent applications and machines that work and react like humans, is number two on the list. Already AI applications are being used in health systems to expedite employee workflow, for billing and payment and in clinical care such as reading and interpreting large volumes of patient scans.

But more and bigger applications are on the way in 2019, according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Once thought as a futuristic threat to humankind, artificial intelligence is now a part of everyday life. In healthcare, AI is changing the game with its applications in decision support, image analysis and patient triage,” the clinic says. “Machine learning algorithms have the ability to highlight problem areas on images, aiding in the screening process and quickly making sense of the mountains of data within a physician’s electronic medical records system.”

With AI’s continued integration into healthcare, caring for patients has become a matter of working smarter, not harder.

Next year AI also will play a role in helping to prevent physician burnout, a problem 83% of healthcare organizations view as a problem, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. “Today, artificial intelligence is helping physicians make smarter decisions at the point of care, improving the ease and accuracy of viewing patient scans and reducing physician burnout,” says the Cleveland Clinic. “With AI’s continued integration into healthcare, caring for patients has become a matter of working smarter, not harder.”

AI will have a bigger impact on healthcare over the next 12 months as will another emerging technology: virtual reality. Increasingly health systems such as Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles are using virtual reality as an alternative to opioids and other forms of medication to help patients in pain. On the Cleveland Clinic top 10 list, virtual and mixed reality was listed as sixth. A particular use for virtual reality in 2019 is medical education.

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“Virtual and mixed reality involve the use of computer technology to create simulated and hybrid environments,” says the Cleveland Clinic. “Popular for their gaming applications, virtual and mixed reality, with their futuristic affect, never fail to dazzle audiences, but VR/MR technology is much more than a game,” says the Cleveland Clinic. “These reality systems have recently caught the eye of healthcare professionals eager to sharpen their skills—now popular for medical education, VR/MR programs provide simulation training that serves to enhance traditional medical schooling.”

The top 10 medical innovation trends across all areas for 2019 include:

  1. Alternative therapy for pain
  2. Artificial intelligence
  3. Expanded window for acute stroke intervention
  4. Advancement in immunotherapy, or biologic therapy, for cancer treatment
  5. Patient specific products achieved with three-dimensional (3D) printing
  6. Virtual and mixed reality
  7. Visor for pre-hospital hemorrhage scanning
  8. Robotic surgery
  9. Percutaneously –  treatment through a catheter through the skin – replacements and repair of both the mitral and tricuspid valves. These valves open—and quickly shut—to allow blood to flow into the ventricles in the heart.
  10. RNA-based therapies.

The list of up-and-coming technologies was selected by a panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists, led by Cleveland Clinic chief wellness officer Michael Roizen.

“Healthcare is ever changing and we anticipate that innovations such as cancer immunotherapy and pharmacogenomics will significantly transform the medical field and improve care for patients at Cleveland Clinic and throughout the world,” Roizen says.

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