Emerging Healthcare Opportunities
January 13th, 2024
By Bavina Sookdeo
The healthcare landscape globally is witnessing a profound transformation, fuelled by technological advancements and evolving patient needs. In an interview, Dr. Mitra Maharaj, Occupational Medicine Physician and Council Member of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association (T&TMA), discussed the key healthcare trends influencing the future of healthcare in Trinidad and Tobago.
Technology meets healthcare
By enabling virtual consultations, video conferencing, and secure messaging, patients can access real-time medical advice and treatment from the comfort of their homes. This trend is vital in bridging the healthcare gap between rural underserved areas and urban communities, providing all citizens equitable access to medical expertise. According to Dr. Maharaj, the main benefits of telemedicine are improved access to care, reduced healthcare costs due to lower transportation costs, convenient and comfortable healthcare experiences, and efficient use of healthcare resources.
“Telehealth software and platforms development, telehealth devices manufacturing and distribution, telehealth education and training services, and telehealth marketing and consulting are all needed services.” He explained, “Telemedicine has seen increased adoption in Trinidad and Tobago during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a shift back to in-person visits is happening as the pandemic subsides. However, this trend will likely revive in the long term as more patients and healthcare providers recognise its benefits.”
Game-changing medical monitoring devices
Maharaj noted, “Wearable technology and remote monitoring empower individuals to gather real-time health data, providing insights that aid personalised healthcare interventions. These innovations benefit patients by enabling early detection of health issues and supporting preventive measures. Healthcare providers can use the continuous data to optimise treatment plans and remotely monitor patients’ health conditions.” Business prospects exist in wearable device manufacturing and distribution, telehealth and remote monitoring services, data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for wearable data interpretation and healthcare software development for seamless integration. “Wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches are already prevalent in Trinidad and Tobago,” Maharaj said, “but remote patient monitoring is still scalable. As technology becomes more affordable and accessible, its use is expected to grow in the coming years.”
How AI and ML are transforming healthcare
Dr. Maharaj noted that “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) are unlocking new avenues in healthcare. These technologies can analyse vast medical data to improve diagnostic accuracy, personalise treatment plans, and streamline administrative processes.” AI-driven automation can also reduce the burden on healthcare providers and enhance patient care. “There are openings for local firms to capitalise on these trends,” said Maharaj, “including AI and ML solutions development for healthcare, data analytics and insights services, telehealth services integrating AI for patient care and AI-driven robotics for medical applications.” He explained, “AI and ML are already used for healthcare administration and research in Trinidad and Tobago. However, the adoption in diagnostics and treatment is still emerging, with physicians increasingly recognising the potential benefits.”
Exploring research and innovation in healthcare
Personalised medicine and genomics consider a person’s unique genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environmental factors to deliver targeted interventions and optimise patient outcomes. “Genetic testing and analysis are available in Trinidad and Tobago, but the integration of personalised medicine in clinical practice is still developing. As awareness grows, adoption is expected to increase,” Maharaj noted. “There are opportunities to expand medical services in Trinidad and Tobago in genetic testing and diagnostic services, pharmacogenomics and precision medicine solutions, bioinformatics and data analytics for genomics and educational programmes and training for personalised medicine.”
VR and AR are changing the future of healthcare
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are transforming healthcare training, surgical planning, patient education, and rehabilitation. These immersive experiences enable healthcare providers to practice complex procedures, improve surgical precision, manage patients’ pain, and improve physical therapy. According to Dr. Maharaj, the pivotal benefits of VR and AR are immersive healthcare training and surgical planning, patient education and pain management, enhanced rehabilitation and physical therapy, and remote collaboration and expert consultations.
“While VR and AR devices are available in Trinidad and Tobago, their use in healthcare is not widespread. As this technology gains more attention and applications become more developed, their adoption in the medical field, locally, is likely to increase. The opportunities for local businesses in this area are investment in the development or importation of VR/AR hardware manufacturing, medical training and simulation platforms, AR-based surgical planning and navigation tools and VR/AR applications for rehabilitation.”
The future of Trinidad and Tobago’s healthcare sector will be shaped by these global trends. Local businesses involved in developing, manufacturing, and distributing healthcare products and software will have significant growth opportunities ahead.