Advances in technology happen every single day. For most industries, these advances mean better business operations, greater product innovation and enhanced customer experiences. But innovations in technology in healthcare are even more meaningful. From the smallest improvements in first aid (think: Band-Aids!) to the largest advancements in medical imaging, healthcare innovation carries global potential, societal impact and personal appeal.

Healthcare is a multi-trillion dollar industry that touches the lives of nearly all of us at one point or another. I’m not sure there’s any other industry out there that bears that kind of responsibility - and that kind of opportunity. Simply said, in the world of healthcare, there is much to lose and a lot to gain. It’s no wonder the heavy tech hitters are expanding their healthcare footprints.

Why Now?

There is no industry in greater need of some TLC. The convergence of skyrocketing costs, healthcare consumerization and inefficient care delivery has sparked a health tech revolution. Consumer tech-savvy giants are putting their tech prowess - and serious money - to work, to make life better for providers and patients alike. These technologies are turning healthcare on its head, bringing sophisticated solutions to the broken models that have plagued our healthcare system for years. Accenture presented a strong prognosis for the industry in its Digital Health Tech Vision 2017. Tech innovation has found a home in healthcare, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

What’s in the Works for Healthcare Innovation?

Among the top innovations abuzz is artificial intelligence (AI). IBM is mastering the field of AI with Watson Health – an extension of the cognitive supercomputer that defeated two Jeopardy champions six years ago. This powerful technology collects massive amounts of medical data and makes sense of it in seconds. For a time-strapped physician carrying far more cases than ideal (the unfortunate norm these days), Watson Health is invaluable. Apply it to a scenario in which an oncologist is working to create an effective treatment plan for a rare cancer case and we’re talking life-changing innovation. Of course IBM, like many of its strategic peers, is partnering with the right high-profile medical institutions to bring its technologies to life and ensure theory and practice align.

With powerful brands at the helm, the possibilities for what’s next are infinite. It will be interesting to see how the industry evolves over the next 3-5 years, and if any start-ups can pack a powerful-enough punch to get a seat at the big table. When it comes to innovating for better health, I say the more, the merrier. Our lives depend on it!

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