As a researcher, I have always lived for the moments when I had to see a whole process and analyze the small details at once. Looking into the roots and origins of trends and also seeing the possible outcomes are rewarding in a way that I need to work with data (my passion), my analytical skills and my intuitions.
Besides, I’ve always loved challenging myself in order to be better – that is, for example, why I find my participation in undertakings like the Good Judgement Project (GJP) important.
So when we at The Medical Futurist decided to create a trend analysis of digital health trajectories, we ignited the rockets and aimed to create unquestionable, well-founded research of the trends I see come (and go). In this article, I took the chance to introduce you to three of my favourite trends from the hype cycle and explain my thoughts behind them.
Hype Cycle Of The Top 50 Emerging Digital Health Trends
Digital technology could help transform unsustainable healthcare systems, provide cheaper, faster, and more effective solutions for diseases – and could lead to healthier individuals living in healthier communities.
In this book, we analyze the top 20 trends shaping the future of healthcare, and what they all look like in practice.
- Hype Cycle Of The Top 50 Emerging Digital Health Trends By The Medical Futurist
- The Digital Health Hype Cycle – Live Q&A with The Medical Futurist
The Hype Cycle
Originally a concept by consulting firm Gartner to analyse companies’ market saturation, the hype cycle is a great tool to show where a particular trend stands in their development circuit. We wrote about it in detail in this article, explaining the background, the methodology and the reasoning. What we did not explain was the subjective matter. For however we have tried to be objective on all facets of the process, there has always been a tiny component that was not quantifiable or measurable.
I read about a hundred digital health technology news per week. I filter the noteworthy ones and share these on my channels adding my comments and analysis to them. There is little that goes under our radar, undetected; and there’s even less that’s left out without good reason. So when we gather companies and analyse trends we use this vast amount of information to set the base for the research.
My 3 favourite trends from the Hype Cycle
I must admit I have my favourites. I am totally in awe of some of the technologies at hand, and I am happy to share these with you. No, these might not be the ones with the greatest financial turnover-possibilities (could be), but these are those 3, that add the most to the cultural transformation of healthcare. Let’s have a look!
3d printing drugs – (we marked it green)
This is pure science fiction. To actually print a medication, the way it is prescribed (in whatever shape), and even printing multiple medicines on a single pill – sounds distant but is already possible. In 2020, FabRx released the first pharmaceutical 3D printer to manufacture personalised medication. ‘M3DIMAKER’ can print personalised medicine real fast – about 28 pills/minute. Imagine how fast the distribution of medication could be with a 3D printer in pharmacies! Or imagine how different our attitude towards pharmacies would be if we could print out pills at home.
But of course, not all medications will be 3D printed – there is just no reason for that. But niche therapeutic areas such as epilepsy will benefit from the technology.
Virtual reality (VR) in pain management – (we marked it orange)
This technology is living proof of the fact that it is possible to address a niche market segment and do it well. Virtual reality in medicine is an area with fascinating possibilities. It has not only moved the imagination of science-fiction fans, but also that of clinical researchers and real-life medical practitioners. Although the field is relatively new, there are increasingly great examples of VR in peer-reviewed studies, having a positive effect on patients’ lives and physicians’ work.
Virtual reality in pain management is also a field that has been researched more widely over the past years. It is effectively able to alleviate pain and relieve anxiety, according to the research conducted by Dr. Brennan Spiegel and the team at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center. They enrolled 100 patients suffering from gastrointestinal, cardiac, neurological and post-surgical pain and created groups with various methods of pain management. The experiment showed that among 100 patients who watched the nature video, there was a 13 percent drop in their pain scores; while patients who watched the virtual reality game had a 24 percent decline in their pain levels.
This technology is clearly untapped compared to what it could provide (that is why it received an orange marking from the team).
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in drug design – (we marked it green)
It always seems like a miraculous way to find A.I. solutions to discover newer drugs – even if the algorithm is able to filter out and match drug combinations that the human brain wouldn’t be able to. Therefore pharmaceutical companies use A.I. in drug design to analyse networks such as genomes or proteomes and find new interactions and new types of target molecules to develop drugs. In short: A.I. solutions could fundamentally alter the traditional process of designing drugs. It could make drug development much cheaper and more effective, remarkably shorten the drug production circle, and help out pharma in finding new drugs. All this without burdening clinical trials and accumulating costs.
Companies commercialising A.I. drug discovery can automate various levels and phases of the process. IBM Research for example is teaming up with Arctoris to investigate the application of A.I. and automation to accelerate closed-loop molecule discovery. From India (CaroCure) to France (Aqemia) and the UK (Exscientia), a great many companies use A.I. in their attempt to find new drug candidates.
It is green because it has the potential, the hype (thus the investments) and the public on its side.
If you want to know more about those 50 technological innovations that will determine our future in medicine, I recommend you get your copy of our new e-book, The Hype Cycle Of The Top 50 Emerging Digital Health Trends!