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Innovation is a hot topic in nearly every sector of life and business, but one industry in which things seem to be changing at a remarkably rapid pace is healthcare. From patient communication to augmented reality surgeries, every part of the patient experience is being reconsidered to ensure advancements are made to optimize care.

Many of these healthcare organizations, however, are fundraising nonprofits—and in many cases, this arm of the organization has fallen massively behind in terms of implementing game-changing technologies and innovations. Where the rest of the healthcare industry is providing breakthroughs and new ways of thinking, oftentimes fundraisers are not.

With this in mind, we’ll explore here a few of the ways the healthcare industry has adopted new technologies, why they may be more willing to do so, and how fundraisers (both within and outside of the healthcare industry) may borrow from their thinking.


Advancements in the Healthcare Industry

As we’ve already mentioned, innovation has touched nearly every aspect of the healthcare industry. To give a sense of the wide spectrum of new technologies and advancements, let’s look at a few examples:

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more prominent across a number of health-related fields. One notable example is cancer detection. Whereas previously, doctors could only identify and diagnose cancer via biopsy, scans combined with AI processing and review are making the process faster, easier, and more reliable.

But it’s not just physical health that is benefiting from this new technology — mental health is utilizing AI, as well. Researchers at MIT and Harvard have begun using machine learning to track trends in mental health. In one study “using an AI model, [researchers] were able to analyze thousands of online Reddit messages to find that topics of suicidality and loneliness had nearly doubled over a period of time. This has the potential to transform our understanding of the mental health of larger populations.” Additionally, “AI can also be applied to reveal the symptoms of illnesses caused by chemical changes in our brain, which lead to a number of mental symptoms.” This technology is helping to identify and diagnose things like dementia and Alzheimer’s earlier, which in itself is one of the most effective ways to treat the diseases.

Lastly, Chatbots have made significant strides in terms of improving the efficiency of telehealth. “Chatbots powered by Natural Language Processing aren’t ready to provide primary diagnoses, but they can be used to assist in the process. They are well equipped to help obtain information from patients before proper treatment can begin.” Advancements like this allow doctors and other health professionals to spend their time and energy digging deeper into their patient’s conditions and care, allowing technology to assist in the intake process.

These are just three examples of the way artificial intelligence is changing healthcare, but all three are quite significant. The key, though, to these continuing to transform the industry is good data. AI is, of course, heavily reliant on data — so as both the quality and quantity of data capturing improve, so too will the advancements and capabilities of AI.

Telemedicine and Remote Care

Not surprisingly, the COVID pandemic forced telemedicine and remote patient care to adapt and evolve almost overnight. Though the basic technology of video chatting was already widespread in its use, healthcare providers had to consider things like compliance, security, and secure data storage. From this emerged HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting solutions that are “critical for maintaining functionality and efficiency for any healthcare operation needing electronic health records.” These advancements may not feel as exciting as those listed above, but they are equally important in terms of providing flexibility and access to patients with a wide variety of healthcare needs.

Augmented and Mixed Reality

Extended reality is a term that encompasses augmented, virtual, and mixed reality and it is beginning to become an increasingly common tool for healthcare providers. In particular, augmented reality has begun to significantly shift the world of surgical training — for the better. Medical students or surgeons learning a new procedure can now participate in highly realistic simulations of a surgery, learning the ins and outs in an extremely low-risk scenario before transferring their skills to a real patient.

Additionally, mixed reality is changing the way actual surgeries are being done. Some surgeons are beginning to wear VR headsets as they perform certain surgeries that allow them to receive heads-up data and information as they go while continuing to utilize both hands. These headsets also allow for remote collaboration. For instance, an expert in a procedure who may live across the country can watch a surgery through the operating surgeon’s headset, allowing them to provide guidance in real-time as the procedure is underway.


Why Does the Healthcare Industry Innovate?

Even with just a quick look at a fraction of the ways technology is changing the healthcare industry, it’s clear that things are evolving at a rapid pace. So then, the question becomes why? Why is this industry so apt to adapt? Perhaps the answer is as simple as it seems — the common goal of almost all healthcare providers is to improve and save lives. The stakes are high, and therefore there’s a willingness to do whatever it takes to care for people. And with certain conditions, it’s clear that “what we’ve been doing isn’t working.” For example, with treatments for diseases like various cancers, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, there is a clear need for something new. And when the mission is clear and the health and lives of many are on the line, there’s no choice but to innovate. And although this certainly comes with challenges and failures, it is also the only way to make progress and advances.

So, in short — the need is pervasive and there is a commitment to try whatever it takes to succeed. There is a willingness to both try and fail, in order that there might even be a chance at success. And with the stakes so high, it would be difficult for anyone to argue the status quo is enough.


What Can Fundraisers Learn from the Healthcare Industry?

On the flip side, a department within the healthcare industry (and beyond) that often struggles to adapt to innovation and new technologies is the fundraising arm. Though almost every fundraiser would argue that the stakes are high for the mission of their organization, perhaps it doesn’t feel quite as urgent as it does for healthcare researchers and doctors. Though fundraisers are passionate about what they do and want the best for their organization, their existing systems seem to get the job done and making a significant change can feel daunting. Resources (financially and personnel-wise) are often scarce, so innovation and disruption may feel like just that — a disruption.

Though these new technologies may feel less “dramatic” than the advancements in the healthcare industry, there are ways to significantly change the way you fundraise. One example is a good content management system. This may take some initial heavy lifting on the front end but will likely significantly impact the ways you work (in a positive way).

And just like AI is transforming the medical side of the healthcare industry, it is also making its way into fundraising. At Atticus, we’re excited to bring game-changing innovation to the world of fundraising. Our technology is the first of its kind — using both your data and data available through external sources to help you identify and nail down whom you should reach out to for your big fundraising asks. As with anything, taking the risk to try something new is a big step, but as we’re witnessing in real-time in the medical field, it may just change the game.

As a fundraiser, you care deeply about your cause. The mission, vision, and values of your organization are a big deal — and we agree. To take your fundraising to the next level, though, it may require a step (or two) out of your comfort zone. While in some cases that can feel like a risk, at Atticus, we’re confident we can help. When you’re ready to try something new, we’d love to partner with you for a game-changing way to do good.