From AI to robotics: Top trends in digitalization in the healthcare sector

Do you remember the days when you had arranged a doctor’s appointment by phone and then, after 3 months of waiting on site, heard from the doctor’s practice assistant that you had to wait another 3 hours? Or that you wait for weeks for a blood test just because your family doctor forgot to call you back? A lot of these cases already got better and easier today by using digital tools.

Due to many customer experiences, let’s better say “patient experiences”, and the advancing digitalization, a lot more will change in the future. The digital transformation has finally arrived, even in Germany.


From 2015 to 2018, the number of telehealth patients has increased almost sevenfold. And with good reason. Today’s telemedicine technology enables patients in even the most remote places in the world to have access to high-quality healthcare and life-saving diagnoses. The benefits for the entire healthcare system are immense: enormous cost reductions and expanded treatment options, especially in the treatment of chronically ill people.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

With the help of AI or AI and Deep Learning, CT scans can be analyzed up to 150 times faster than would be possible with the human eye. AI will play an increasingly important role in process improvement, but also in cost reduction. We are only just beginning to use AI systems for everyday medical and home care. I am personally sure that we will hear about many more AI application examples in the future. Let us be surprised.


The potential for block chaining in the healthcare sector is being conjured up by many experts in digitisation. But have we already reached the point where we can use this technology profitably in the health and social services in the next few years? From my personal point of view, however, the real background to the use of block chain technology is that in the future, due to the ever-increasing networking of medical devices, there will be a need to protect this data from data protection violations. This is exactly where the blockchain technology with its comprehensive security structure comes in. If we go one step further from the hospital to the home care and at the same time monitor the patient via telemedical technologies, a secure and absolutely traceable data transfer is indispensable. Advanced interoperability in the healthcare sector therefore cannot get around well thought-out block chain technology.

VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality)

VR and AR have been used in patient therapy for several years now. It is already successfully used in pain therapy for the treatment of phantom pain, in anxiety and behavioral therapy or even in the therapy of paranoia. However, the far greater field of application of this technology is VR and AR than as an aid in surgery planning, surgery preparation and surgery execution. VR and AR are already used for planning complex operations, practicing procedures, marking bones, organs and nerve cords, or for calculating and displaying distance data – all of these applications are covered by VR and AR. Not to be forgotten is the application area of AR and VR for medical education and training purposes.

Wearables and IoT

Wearables have been on the market for a long time and the Internet of Things is nothing new anymore. It is much more interesting to see how these technologies are used to deliver the data obtained quickly, easily and securely to various locations and service providers. In the near future, the EPA (electronic patient record) will play a valuable role here, as it is the central point for all digitally acquired data and can be accessed from anywhere. The real added value then lies in the fact that wearables will bring real-time data from home, on the road or from health care facilities to a “collection point”, in this case the EPA. Wearables have long been indispensable in health care and in the area of data control during sporting activities.


For many years now, robotics has made its entry into medicine. Many surgeons today already operate with the Da Vinci robot from Intuitive Surgical. But here, too, users have ideas that are reaching further. They imagine that with the addition of AR and VR, i.e. with “mixed reality”, they can dive even further into the operating field. Although the idea that the robot can carry out operations autonomously is still a bit abstruse, research is already a few steps further. The use of assistive care robots will continue to be an issue in the coming years. If you believe the current statistics, then we already have a current nursing shortage, which in urban regions will add up to a 50% shortage of inpatient and outpatient nursing staff by the year 2030. The question therefore arises as to who and what can remedy this situation. In countries like Israel and Japan, nursing robots have been in use for a long time. They take care of being constantly present for people with severe degenerative diseases and thus act as a kind of “human substitute”. The affected persons are no longer able to distinguish between man and machine in their disease states. Or they are helpful with lifting functions, re-bedding, fetch and bring services. Here too, progressive digitisation is becoming a useful instrument.

There are several other digitisation trends in the healthcare sector. It is a secret to all of them that they can only grow rapidly if the Federal Government takes money in hand and actively supports the service providers in implementing them financially and within a legally secure framework.

©, Author: Frank Bergs