Emerging technologies are converging to reshape digital healthcare
Accenture's (NYSE:ACN) Digital Health Technology Vision 2022 report found that 81% of healthcare executives expect the metaverse to have a positive impact on the healthcare industry.
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Healthcare organizations plan to compute the impossible in a variety of ways (Graphic: Business Wire)
According to the report, "Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2022," the "metaverse continuum" is a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds, realities and business models that will transform nearly every aspect of life and business in the next decade and beyond, including the healthcare industry. To help healthcare organizations design, execute and accelerate their metaverse journeys, Accenture recently announced the launch of the Accenture Metaverse Continuum business group, which combines metaverse-skilled professionals and market-leading capabilities in customer experience, digital commerce, extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, artificial intelligence and computer vision.
Rich Birhanzel, global industry health lead at Accenture, said, "The metaverse seems futuristic, but it's taking shape today. We're envisioning the opportunities it presents to improve how people manage their health data, engage with healthcare organizations, and how these organizations support people through their health and wellness journeys. Healthcare enterprises that start making strategic investments to build a high-performing digital technology foundation now will be the ones to help shape the next generation of healthcare — creating greater access, better experiences, more trust and improved outcomes while keeping people at the heart of it."
Healthcare organizations are also gearing up for other technological advances, according to the report. For example, more than 80% of healthcare executives reported that the number of Internet of Things (IoT) and edge devices deployed in their organizations increased significantly or exponentially over the past three years. And nearly all (96%) say their organization's long-term success will depend on next-generation computing to solve problems today's computers struggle to address.
Kaveh Safavi, M.D., J.D. and a senior managing director in Accenture Health, said, "Leading healthcare enterprises have made good progress investing in a digital technology foundation for healthcare. The next horizon is the metaverse, where we can experience the internet of place and the internet of ownership in healthcare. For example, surgical teams learning new procedures without having to be physically in the same operating room. Or when you are traveling, being able to securely provide your medical information to a caregiver without having to prove where you live or authenticate with a physician."
Accenture's Digital Health Technology Vision 2022 explores four technology trends that will play a role in transforming the healthcare industry in the years to come.
- WebMe illustrates how the internet is being reimagined with the metaverse as a platform for digital experiences that provide boundless places where people can meet and interact, and Web3 is reinventing how data can be owned by individuals and moved with the person and not the platform. In the metaverse, we can transcend time and space to simulate interactions, shorten learning cycles and practice procedures, such as in surgical training.
- The Programmable World tracks how technology is being threaded through our physical environments in three layers: connected, experiential and material. While the metaverse is all about leveraging the immersive experience of the virtual world, the programmable world is about building the next version of the physical world in healthcare. 5G, ambient computing, augmented reality, 3D-printing and smart materials are converging in sophisticated ways, turning the physical world into an environment that is as smart, customizable and as programmable as the digital one. Healthcare enterprises will build and deliver new experiences, as well as reinvent their own operations, for a new kind of world in which we can make physical spaces adaptable to cues or our needs.
- The Unreal explores the "unreal" qualities that are becoming fundamental to artificial intelligence, and even data, making the synthetic seem authentic. Synthetic data is being used to train AI models in ways that real-world data practically cannot or should not. Synthetic data can represent patient datasets for use in research, training or other applications. This realistic (yet unreal) data can be shared, maintaining the same statistical properties while protecting confidentiality and privacy. It can be developed to accommodate increased diversity to counter bias, thus overcoming the pitfalls of real-world data.
- Computing the Impossible is the emergence of a new class of machines stretching the boundaries of what computers can do – quantum computing. Problems once thought impossible to solve because they require computing large, complex datasets are now in the realm of the possible. Quantum computing can enable healthcare executives to test different scenarios and find complex dependencies much faster. For instance, data can help us treat diseases better or predict outbreaks of viruses.
This year's report can be accessed here or follow the conversation on Twitter with #TechVision.
About the Methodology
For the 2022 report, the research process included gathering input from the Technology Vision External Advisory Board, a group comprising more than two dozen experienced individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, venture capital firms and entrepreneurial companies. In addition, the Technology Vision team conducted interviews with technology luminaries and industry experts, as well as many Accenture business leaders. In parallel, Accenture Research conducted a global survey of 24,000 consumers and 4,650 C-level executives and directors across 35 countries and 23 industries. The healthcare industry sample comprised 391 healthcare executives (291 provider executives in 10 countries and 100 payer executives in the US). The surveys were fielded from December 2021 through January 2022.
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