Digital health image

Numerous prospects in health technology say analysts

pharmafile | November 12, 2014 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing 3D, AstraZeneca, F&S, app, digital, frost and sullivan, fs, wearables 

Medical devices and imaging technology have been included in a recent analysis of the top 50 most innovative technologies.

Frost & Sullivan’s (F&S) latest TechVision programme suggests that the healthcare sector will profit from the wearables realm but also even from 3D printing technology – such as making customised wound healing possible through 3D printed skin. 

Improved reality technologies adapted with wearable electronics will also offer an enhanced user experience, according to the findings.

“Knowing a cool technology is one thing, knowing what to do with it is another. It is easy for companies to get caught in a trap of the latest fad that never leads to business ROI,” says F&S practice director for Technical Insights Europe, Ankit Shukla.

“Therefore, it is crucial to identify and innovate your business model with more accuracy and build new concepts for stronger stakeholder return.” 

The analysis estimates that in the next five years, the global top 50 technologies will generate a combined market potential of $2.8 trillion. The popularity and importance of these types of technologies will soar by 2020. 

In 2013 alone, the global R&D investment for these top 50 technologies accumulated more than $120 billion according to F&S. Shukla explains that technological advancements might be a frightening prospect to some companies, but embracing them and tapping into convergence possibilities will yield a distinct advantage. 

One such fruitful pharma foray could well come from AstraZeneca for example, who this month acquired Definiens, a German company that has pioneered cancer imaging and data technology.

In a deal worth $150 million the UK’s second largest pharma firm has boosted its cancer immunotherapy offerings whilst also acquiring a company that is able to compete in this lucrative digital technology market.

Digital health in the mainstream

In a recent interview with The Guardian newspaper, Syed Abrar, founder of Buddy app – a digital tool to support therapy services – explains that he wants the wider community to benefit from any development of these types of new technologies.

Abrar says: “I would like to see technology benefit from the experience and human support that professionals can best provide. My end goal was to produce a product that benefits society and reduces stigma, improves access and engagement.”

Another technology able to bolster the healthcare sector is the emergence of wearable devices which are of course being manufactured by the likes of Samsung, Motorola, Sony and now Microsoft who released its own device in October.

This is a growing market worth $2 billion, and a recent survey by PwC reported that around 80% of the people it asked said an important benefit of wearable technology is its potential to make healthcare more convenient. 

But there are still concerns regarding data security, with many consumers stating that invasions of privacy and vulnerability are high on their growing list of worries about the equipment. It was also found that more than 90% of apps directly related to healthcare on the Apple iTunes app store had limited functionality.

There is no doubt that the sector can profit and improve services through new and innovative digital technologies, the only concern for the industry now is how it will indeed foster these advances. 

Tom Robinson

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