Why we can expect smarter healthcare in 2021 and other tech trends

With last year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and much the same expected for 2021, it is unsurprising that healthcare dominates the expected trends to change technology this year.

Business website Fast Company spoke to some of the leading players across the technology industry about their predictions for 2021 and their insights suggested some significant advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), privacy changes and health advancements.

Some of the many predictions around healthcare contain fast, low-cost COVID diagnostic tests that would be available over the counter and a continuing use and upgrade of telehealth services, with significantly better patient outcomes, delivered much faster and at a reduced cost.

The survey of experts also predicted an increasing use of text messaging for healthcare services and communications. This could include texting a provider to get a prescription, order a COVID test, making an appointment or even asking your doctor a question.

Sean Harper from biotechnology company Westlake Village BioPartners told Fast Company that as vaccines were starting to roll out across the globe, it would be important for people to record and produce their vaccination status.

“A smartphone app that provides globally accepted certification of SARS Cov-2 vaccination status would be a useful tool,” Mr Harper said.

Other trends to expect this year centred on the way people have already started handling their money.

According to eBay’s head of global payments, Alyssa Cutright, we can expect to see many new ways of paying for things in 2021.

“COVID has accelerated the need for new payment methods such as mobile wallets, contactless payments, buy now pay later, and instalment methods,” Ms Cutright said.

“Not only are we seeing higher adoption of global payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and local payment methods like Afterpay in Australia, but we’re also seeing a shift across the industry in how retailers deliver their payment options to customers, like using QR codes to make a payment.”

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley expects online shopping to continue to grow rapidly in 2021, which could become a massive boon for consumers.

“You’ll see competition between third-party ecommerce platforms, like Amazon and Shopify, will heat up into ‘shopping wars’ in 2021 and 2022,” Mr Sculley said.

He also predicted that he expected to see social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok compete with Amazon as third-party ecommerce systems.

Executive director of the Mozilla Foundation Mark Surman said many people gave away more data than they would have expected last year, and this will become more apparent to them in 2021, which could lead to significant privacy changes.

“Why should Amazon get to know so much about our shopping habits? Why should Facebook get to create eerily accurate psychographic profiles of us?” he asked. “As a way to rebalance power, we’ll likely see new data governance models become more popular in 2021.”

Ending on a bright note, Amazon’s chief technical officer, Werner Vogels, predicted artificial intelligence would help increase our understanding of climate change and offer more practical solutions.

“As climate data sets get larger and larger, machine learning will start to play a more important role in looking for patterns within that data,” Mr Vogels explained.

“Over the next year, researchers will be able to accelerate our understanding of climate science by using machine learning to sift through vast amounts of data and more accurately model the future.”

What trends do you expect to see in technology this year?

Written by Ben

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