Arun Meena, Founder & CEO, RHA Technologies highlights that the healthtech intervention across preventive, diagnostic, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative stages of patients is driving improved recovery
According to Deloitte Consulting, HealthTech – the convergence of healthcare and technology – helps enhance care quality, reduce costs, and improves access to care. The investment world is therefore actively adding HealthTech to their portfolios. In 2021, HealthTech companies raised $39.7 billion across 1,186 deals, double of 2020’s $18.1 billion, according to Silicon Valley Bank’s Healthcare Investments and Exits report. The Indian HealthTech market too is expected to grow rapidly and reach US $50 billion by 2033, as per RBSA Advisors’ report.
Significantly, healthtech intervention across preventive, diagnostic, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative stages of patients is driving improved recovery. Many of these healthtech initiatives including the ones listed below are in various stages of usage and are constantly being improved to deliver better results for a healthier world.
AI-powered initiatives are creating a major impact and range from drug discovery to advanced diagnostics, and patient monitoring, amongst many other applications.
In the case of drug discovery, AI is able to sift through millions of molecules to hone-in on possible candidates to investigate further. This is important as investigating a molecule is a time consuming and expensive activity for organisations. According to “Principles of early drug discovery” article by JP Hughes, S Rees, SB Kalindjian and KL Philpott, developing a new drug from original idea to the launch of a finished product can take 12–15 years and cost in excess of $1 billion. While no new AI aided drugs have been launched currently yet the industry is very hopeful.
AI tech embedded in numerous devices and equipment is already aiding patients in various stages and the tools are increasingly becoming more powerful. AI embedded healthtech is being used to predict and identify diseases, automate tasks, analyse information from sensors for early warning system, manage chronic diseases, improve medical image processing and more.
Anti-aging initiatives are another set of healthtech benefitting modern healthcare. The allied fields of Genomics, epigenetics, and stem cell research are all aiding a healthier outcome for patients along with faster recovery to contribute to longer life span goals.
CRISPR gene editing healthtech is opening radical new treatment possibilities with gene manipulation. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize for their ground breaking work in this field. CRISPR has already shown its impact in the diagnosis of COVID-19. It is expected to create favourable outcomes in immediate future for following more diseases – cancer, blood disorders, blindness, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and huntington’s disease.
Virtual/Augmented Reality driven healthtech innovations are aiding in diagnosis by way of better imaging, in treatment/surgery planning by aiding with scenarios, and aiding in actual surgery by providing better visibility of organs and vessels at the operating table. These technologies are also creating solutions for blindness and loss of hearing.
Robotics is another assistive healthtech being used across surgery, patient recovery, and patient life support by improving the functional capabilities of differentially enabled persons with exoskeletons and prosthetics.
One of the greatest scientists of our time Stephen Hawking’s quality of life was supported by a bevy of healthtech which enabled him to contribute scientifically despite his advanced ALS for 55 years. Artificial intelligence tech helped him speak with minimal body movement while his chair was his mobility platform. In addition, multiple medical devices monitored his vitals and enabled timely interventions by medical staff.
HealthTech intervention in human reproductive cycle too have given joy to a vast number of parents over the years – the prime example being IVF treatment. Other innovations in this area include sperm and egg freezing technologies, hormone testing & management, pregnancy management protocols, neonatal care & equipment, and many others.
Human body embedded healthtech have been used for long with life prolonging impact. Pacemaker is an example of this healthtech innovation. Hearing implants too are an accepted form of treatment with life changing benefits. Now advances in neurotechnology are set to usher the next wave of innovations which may even help manage mental conditions.
Telemedicine healthtech has proven its worth once again during the pandemic. Its leverage is even now being constantly expanded to provide support to bed-ridden patients, rural areas, and in times of environment disasters.
Artificial organs healthtech have been researched for long and are constantly improving. They are nevertheless still some distance away from being long term replacements. Artificial heart, eye, and kidney are the most advanced in terms of their capabilities currently and provide hope for many patients in the years to come.
In the meanwhile, there are healthtech improvements happening in the field of dialysis which is a tedious process requiring 3-4 hours three times a week. These advances include wearable dialysis machine and removal of need for blood thinner during dialysis.
Instances of consumer friendly healthtech embedded in Apple watch helping people with ailments or injuries are numerous. The ready availability of smart connected monitoring tools is clearly helping save lives by increasing the margin to reach specialised help.
Digital transformation of hospitals is the non-glamourous healthtech innovation that is going a long way in saving patient lives and improving outcomes. The latest in cloud, AI, blockchain, big data, Analytics, and patient experience management innovation is helping create efficiencies, better monitoring, better treatment, lesser errors, and happier patient journeys for a healthier patient outcome.