CES 2024 provided a very compelling look at the fast-evolving future of healthcare and its promise of personalized digital services, universal accessibility, wearable devices, enhanced patient outcomes and more.

This year’s well-attended event in Las Vegas saw an impressive array of AI-powered and next-generation healthcare solutions unveiled. From smart diagnostic tools to consumer-friendly gadgets, digital technology and AI are driving precision medicine, which should lead to better data, improving clinical decision-making.

The combination of generative AI and remarkable new wearable products is helping to rapidly redefine healthcare, positioning people to monitor their own health and share health-related data with healthcare providers instantly via digital platforms. This data could become a part of patient electronic medical records and guide early identification of health issues and better monitoring of the results of treatment.

Today’s wearable medical devices extend beyond basic fitness tracking, delivering features such as continuous glucose monitoring, ECG monitoring and stress management. As patients open new digital windows into their health status and needs, medical professionals diagnosing, treating, and overseeing patient care virtually have the potential to enhance outcomes as never before.

Consumer acceptance and uptake of digitally enabled telehealth was spurred on by the global COVID pandemic and while virtual care is still relatively new it’s rapidly soaring in popularity as people become more familiar with it and as technologies and new tools continue to improve the ability to diagnose issues remotely. Telehealth is also leading to new ways to access care for those that live in rural or remote areas or struggle to leave their homes.

Taking control of our health

A key advantage of digital health is its ability to let people take control of their health and well-being. From wearable devices that continuously track critical vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature to mobile apps that provide real-time health insights and advice, today’s digital capabilities let us proactively oversee our health as never before.

Reliable universal access to healthcare has been one of the sector’s biggest challenges and the advance of modern virtual care comes just in time as global populations age, demand for care rises and healthcare systems everywhere battle staffing shortages and chronic budget constraints. Patients are gaining vastly improved service while healthcare professionals are working more efficiently and generating significant cost savings.

Much of KPMG firms own work in the healthcare sector today revolves around the delivery of new digital capabilities to connect patients with today’s evolving ecosystems – improving access, accelerating service and enhancing outcomes. These “digital front doors” improve patient experiences and make it easier for them to access care quickly, which can make all the difference in the early diagnosis of serious conditions. KPMG professionals are helping health-sector organizations as they look to advance the remote online exchange of data, documents, images and insights between patients and their doctors, as well as between healthcare professionals within care ecosystems.

Keep people ‘in the loop’ as AI advances

Generative AI was a major topic at CES, and the healthcare industry was no exception. The potential for the technology to improve outcomes, make providers more efficient, and reduce the costs of delivering care is clear.  However, challenges lie ahead - as healthcare speeds into the future, it will be crucial for health systems to adequately protect confidential patient data and to ensure that the fast-evolving algorithms driving AI models are accurate, equitable and trustworthy.

Healthcare has always been an industry in which innovation is both necessary and risky, given the unique nature of its interaction with people and their health. Without the industry’s willingness to take risks and innovate, we wouldn't have today’s life-saving vaccines or many of the breakthrough treatments, technologies and capabilities that have been developed over the years.

So, technology changing the healthcare industry is nothing new – it has always moved at a rapid pace and will continue to do so. As today’s digital, data-based, and automated reality continues to emerge, however, it’s now crucial to ensure that the data used is high quality to safeguard patient care, and diverse enough to meet the needs of the entire patient population, including those from underserved communities who have experienced long-standing health inequity issues. Security is another concern. The healthcare sector is already struggling to contend with the fast-expanding cyber threat landscape. As healthcare organizations embrace technology, they will have to put safeguards and a dedicated focus on cyber security capabilities in place to maintain trust with patients and providers.

Amid the excitement of automation, emerging tech and AI models delivering remarkable advances, the future will also demand the smart integration of machines and people. Healthcare workers will need to help some patients who may struggle with adopting new care technology. Humans will also need to remain ‘in the loop’ as AI capabilities advance, making sure that the proliferating data underpinning new capabilities is both accurate and used ethically to ensure patient safety and appropriate results. With proper controls, people will be able to rely on these new technologies to enhance care, improve patient experiences, and ultimately save lives.

CES 2024 served as a reminder to me that this is an incredible time to be in the healthcare industry. We are just at the beginning of an unprecedented journey – one that promises to deliver revolutionary capabilities and dramatically enhance healthcare outcomes for society. I look forward to attending CES again next year and seeing how these technologies continue to evolve. I believe the best is yet to come and eagerly anticipate what the future holds for all of us.