First things first, we would like you to know this isn’t a scientific article or even a research assessment. It has, in fact, knowledge-base under and a high understanding of what this sector and solutions can evolve to, as well as, where the health market should progress, as of today.
The goal of this article is to share a resumed point of view of what the MedTech landscape can add to your knowledge, project, or business.
MedTech is a set of know-how, combining healthcare with technologies applied in wide and diverse forms of digital products that aim to treat, improve or have a caregiving approach. As an example, we have palliative care to patients but also approaches for physicians during healthcare procedures such as, monitoring health status at distance or providing a more accurate diagnostic. Some of these digital products are specifically designed to enable early diagnosis, less invasive treatments, and significantly reduce time when dealing with health conditions, which may have a huge impact on therapy success.
Due to MedTech’s great potential in helping physicians deal with complex scenarios and decisions, this area and its behind-the-scenes technologies will be on your radar for the next months and upcoming years. Additionally, digital healthcare solutions are one of today’s trends where more and more users are demanding this new way of treatment within the healthcare sector. According to what we have seen in the last year, the future of health has changed, boosted by government investments, pharmaceuticals’ perspectives, clinics and hospitals’ new ways of work, and of course patients’ demands.
In order to represent and easily understand the different technologies areas within MedTech ecosystem opportunities, we created from scratch the MedTech Mandala (Diagram) for you below.
It wasn’t yet said in this article, however, it is important to highlight that we’ll be presenting some consumer-driven MedTech solutions, such as mHealth (sensors, wearables & gamification), Telemedicine (provides individual healthcare service remotely), AI-driven and data-driven products (big data & medical imaging), Blockchain-based products (Traceability, EHR Interoperability & Tokenization) and Immersive Health AR/VR-based products and Digital Genomics.
We selected these solutions because some of them are already being used by healthcare professionals, meaning the technology is solid enough to do their work and, most importantly, people recognize its added value, while others should be used in the future since we are dealing with the most high-end and cutting edge technologies out there. However, it needs more in-depth understanding, development, and therefore, recognition.
mHealth is a new form of enabling health through mobile and wireless technologies. It is a powerful combination of using apps, wearables to accelerate self-monitoring or personal digital assistants (PDAs) where patients with chronic diseases, for instance, have the potential to save time, as well as costs related to the treatment of specific illnesses. Through mhealth-based products it is possible to monitor several biosignals where medical and healthcare professionals can access the patient data from their own clinic or hospital, providing feedback on medical diagnosis. Concerning gamification in these products, there are many solutions around behavioral changes (non-medical conditions), where the patient can create a direct emotional and a sense of engagement using his own smartphone, leading to well-being and self-care under a rewarded mechanism in order to continue using it.
Telemedicine is a healthcare type of service based on remote management where patients and providers are separated by distance. The goal is to monitor medications and manage patients’ health anywhere with the right care, at the right place, at the right time.
This technology can contribute to covering health anywhere by improving access towards patients. Besides what seems kind of obvious, Telehealth can be used within immediate access to medical care, industry-recognized as urgent care, like stroke assistance scenarios. To set apart Telemedicine from mHealth, while the last one is based on mobile, Telemedicine goes beyond one-on-one virtual consultations between doctors and patients. It is becoming a more direct-to-consumer product without a screen, such as home delivery of prescriptions and home-use medical devices.
AI-driven or data-driven solutions using Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be really a game-changer within the healthcare industry.
Before proceeding to how AI-driven products are helping health professionals in clinical decision-making, it’s important to realize that AI is only effective with the support of large amounts of data. This way, reliable information can replace several physicians. Imagine a doctor with a few years of practice and with foundations on how to use technology – we are talking about another level of competencies. It is crucial for professionals to understand that these tools can add more knowledge to their diagnosis. An example of AI’s potential is when an everyday task like following a routine checklist, transforms into a non-task at all. Additionally, healthcare professionals can benefit from AI when they read algorithm-driven information using computer vision, text, or natural language processing.
Blockchain-based health products can be provided in different and innovative ways. One of the best ways to explain this trending technology is to explain the application possibilities. For instance, if applied to the pharma supply-chain, it could help tackle fake drugs, as well as helping improve the accurate information by the pharmaceuticals and logistics partners. Regarding blockchain-based tokens (Tokenization), the system is predestined to align incentives among ecosystem participants, for example, redeem services – trade it for another cryptocurrency or exchange it for cash at designated exchanges, all this using a utility token that can facilitate transactions of health information. Blockchain can also provide a universal interchange format for Electronic Health Record (EHR) since it has a lack of standardization bringing us to the main reason for these problems.
Immersive Health, more specifically the usage of Virtual Reality (VR) products in healthcare should be a new way to treat patients, embracing an exponential technology with a large potential within psychology and mental health, but not only.
For instance, using VR in cognitive-behavioral therapy for phobias or even anxiety makes exposure more accessible giving more confidence to patients. It also enables a 360-degree view of the patient’s health, helping physicians with their diagnosis process. On the other hand, VR and Augmented Reality (AR) products can help surgeons face different environments and scenarios during surgeries. Besides those technologies being used to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, they still have a path to overcome in order to deliver a fully immersive experience.
Before we can explain what Digital Genomics is, let’s try to cover what is a genome. A genome is the complete sequence of DNA of an organism, that is, the set of all genes of a living being.
So, Digital Genomics is a digital copy of your genome on your laptop.
The main goal of this technology is similar to others: improving our health, however in a different and more individual way, aiming to serve as guidance for future generations. It is being said that genetic profiling is growing with projections that over a billion people will have their genomes sequenced by 2025.
The ability of this technology to make targeted changes to a living cell’s genome has huge implications in fields like precision health. Think about how it can influence prenatal and hereditary diseases, as well as rare ones. Applications like preventive care are revolutionizing how we think about genetics.
Afonso Monteiro is Business Development Manager at Load. He has a Master’s Degree in Dentistry, a Post-Graduation in IT Management, and his passion lies in Digital Innovations. He has been focused on helping businesses and individuals to create unique digital solutions with a strong base on what people desire, advising how to build scalable products.