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Five big trends in health care and why we should welcome them

These five industry disruptors are not only changing the way we deliver health care, but also the way we think about it.

Big data

Big data refers to high volumes of data that cannot be processed using traditional means. Emerging big data analytics tools assist sectors and organizations to collect, store and synthesize large amounts of data for the express purpose of superior analysis and improved decision-making.

Where is all this data coming from? In some cases, from health consumers. The increasing appetite to understand one’s own genetic makeup is resulting in mass quantities of personal data becoming available to researchers―who in turn use it as a basis for discovery and new treatments.

Big data also allows the greater health care field to benefit from comprehensive studies, accessing more diverse population groups. Medical professionals can now stay on top of health care trends, technologies and techniques. And, big data can be used to identify risk factors and recommend preventative treatments.


At its core, blockchain is a system for recording and storing transactions. There is a lot of buzz right now about blockchain disrupting the financial sector. However, it’s having quite an impact in health care too. Sharing digitally-stored information ensures health practitioners are working from, and contributing to, a shared set of data. Stored centrally and securely in an online location, blockchain eliminates third-party intermediaries, streamlines processes and reduces health care costs exponentially. It is also being used to accelerate pharmaceutical supply chains, helping health care practices and hospitals run more efficiently.

Communication and information tools

The advancements in technology that are making global connectivity possible are also proving to be real game-changers for the health care sector:

  • Video, real-time meeting and discussion platforms, and audio-to-text programs fueled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) can all supplement electronic medical records (EMRs);
  • Telehealth and telemedicine tools bypass traditional geographic barriers;
  • eReferral advancements allow for the secure electronic coordination of patient referrals;
  • And, augmented and virtual reality technologies are making it possible to conduct remote and distance education and training.

The results are superior inclusivity, improved case management, enhanced treatments and boosted patient recovery.

3D printing

One might say that 3D printer has the potential to be the great equalizer, disrupting supply chains and making it easier to obtain formerly high-priced, difficult to obtain, items. This has certainly the case in health care―with breakthroughs in 3D printed organs, tissue, ligaments or prosthetics happening every day.

Mobile app and health wearables

With the rise of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, more consumers seek to better understand and manage their conditions by turning to health wearables―monitoring heart rate, glucose, physical activity and sleep. The data from these wearables can also be analyzed by algorithms or health practitioners to help with long-term diagnosis, support and treatment.

Mobile apps can help users better manage their well-being. The apps can prompt them to get regular checkups and access test results quickly and securely online. On the other side, health care professionals use apps to quickly locate information relating to diseases and drugs, images for clinical matters and participate in continued education and professional development.

The sweeping advances bearing down on all sectors have immense potential for health care. Imagine the possibilities—improved access to care for rural and marginalized populations, real-time collaboration, efficiencies, cost-reductions and better health outcomes. Just think about it…


This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. The opinions stated by the authors are made in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries including Joule.  Feel passionate about physician-led innovation? Please connect with us at