2021 digital health trends to watch

There are a lot of new trends coming up within the industry, given the accelerated pace of innovation we’ve seen this year.
7 December 2020

2021 digital health trends to watch. Source: Shutterstock

  • Digitalization in healthcare could lower costs, better diagnose, improve work conditions for physicians and medical workers, and provide an overall higher standard of care for patients.
  • The pandemic has been a trigger point for the healthcare sector in speeding up the need to adapt and accelerating the use of AI, IoMT, and telehealth, among others.

One word that could sum up the year would be ‘unprecedented’. Never before has a health crisis halted the entire global economy at such a scale, painfully demonstrating how inseparable healthcare and the economy have become. Although the healthcare technology industry has been gradually growing in the past, innovation is needed to deal with the pandemic. 

Across the globe, healthcare systems were not designed to deal with this crisis: an unpredictable, large-scale health challenge that requires urgent mobilization of resources and affects the whole population. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the need for resilience in our healthcare systems.

A better remote, digital care to fill the gaps in the healthcare system is also important. The upside is that there are a lot of new trends coming up to be excited about within the industry in this coming year given the accelerated pace of innovation we’ve seen this year. 


Telehealth or telemedicine is the provision and management of health care in which individuals manage aspects of their care with remote support from health-care professionals. Covid-19 has greatly accelerated the use of telehealth resources. One of the major benefits of telehealth over in-person alternatives is that it reduces contact between patients, healthcare workers, and other patients. 

According to Research and Markets, “telehealth is one of the useful tools for continuous monitoring of chronic conditions and treatment. The adoption of telemedicine is likely to rise with the penetration of smart gadgets. Telemonitoring is used to monitor congestive heart failure (CHF), tele stroke for stroke condition, and tele pulmonology for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

It is also expected that by revenue, the telehealth market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 28% during the period 2019-2025. Factors such as the emergence of telehealth robots and robotic platforms as well as strategic acquisitions and collaborations are likely to contribute to the growth of the telehealth market during the forecast period.

Artificial Intelligence

There is a lot of untapped potential in this technology that is being unraveled through time. To put it briefly, artificial intelligence (AI) simplifies the lives of patients, doctors, and hospital administrators by performing tasks that are typically done by humans, but in less time and at a fraction of the cost.  

Notably, AI is one of the world’s highest-growth industries, the valuing at about US$600 million in 2014 and is projected to reach US$150 billion by 2026. From finding new links between genetic codes to drive surgery-assisting robots, AI is reinventing — and reinvigorating — modern healthcare through machines that can predict, comprehend, learn, and act. 

For example, by using AI’s pattern recognition, doctors can prescribe personalized treatment plans tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup and lifestyle to treat cancer. Additionally, pharma and biotech companies use machine learning algorithms in order to shorten the drug development cycle. Most recently, researchers in the United States developed an AI that accurately recognizes and diagnoses COVID-19, even in asymptomatic patients, just by the sound of a cough

Other ways AI can help the health industry include, identification of people with high risk, personalized dosage recommendations based on each patient’s body chemistry and environmental factors, as well as automation of reminders for the consumption of medication at their specific times.

Internet of Medical Things 

Likely,  your most recent healthcare interaction would involve some sort of medical device or equipment — a blood pressure monitor, a continuous glucose monitor, maybe even an MRI scanner. It is no surprise since there are more than 500,000 medical technologies currently available, according to a recent Deloitte report.

With their ability to collect, analyze, and transmit health data, IoMT tools are rapidly changing healthcare delivery. These applications are playing a central part in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses — and for patients and clinicians, they’re poised to evolve the future of care.

This type of technology is not only helping to improve the patient experience by eliminating the need for in-person medical visits, but it’s also helping to reduce costs. Goldman Sachs estimates that IoMT will save the healthcare industry US$300 billion annually in expenditures primarily through remote patient monitoring and improved medication adherence. 

Regardless of a patient’s location or condition, an evolution of the IoMT ecosystem will become increasingly impactful. And even the most remote locations will benefit from better access to care as connected medical devices continue to find their way into the hands of both patients and clinicians.