Health Technology – commonly referred to as HealthTech – is defined by the WHO as the “application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures, and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives”.
This is quite a broad definition, and it is fair to say that there are similar overlaps with what may be otherwise defined as pharmaceuticals, medical devices or digital automation.
In this post, I am going to discuss the rise of HealthTech, and how going forward, business opportunities can lead to an improvement in health and well-being across the globe.
What Exactly is HealthTech?
Expanding on the WHO definition mentioned in the introduction, HealthTech is the term to identify and tools or software that are used to improve both the quality and efficiency of healthcare to patients.
A simple example of HealthTech innovation that most people will be aware of, is the advancement of medical health records from paper to digital records. The internet has allowed a revolution in replacing medical paperwork with a digital equivalent and has become the norm of healthcare in developed countries.
This has allowed a more efficient standard of healthcare, that allows patients to be treated quicker and of higher quality, whilst reducing cost for patients and healthcare providers.
The demand and access to digital infrastructure continues to provide plenty of opportunities for companies willing to fund and progress HealthTech.
HealthTech versus MedTech – What’s the Difference?
At this point, it is important to try to differentiate the terms HealthTech and MedTech.
The two terms are very similar and it is common for overlap between the two.
Generally speaking, HealthTech is the term used to describe devices or applications that consumers can use for themselves, where MedTech is the use devices or applications to treat a condition, often in a healthcare environment, such as a hospital.
Examples of HealthTech
Some of the examples that can be considered HealthTech are things you may already be aware of.
Smart Watches – such as the Apple Watch – are one of the most popular examples of wearable devices. Typically, they can monitor you movement and activity, but newest models allow the user to track different aspects of their health, including heart rate, sleep patterns and even sexual activity.
Glucometer – or glucose monitor – is a device in which a patient can detect the level of glucose in their blood. These devices are incredibly important for patients with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels.
Electric toothbrushes are recommended by dentists as their preferred cleaning method of choice as they have been proven to improve many aspects of oral hygiene.
The more expensive models of electric toothbrushes can also connect to mobile phones to record and track teeth brushing to help improve overall clean quality!
Examples of MedTech
The above HealthTech devices should be well known, as we integrate them into everyday life. The applications of MedTech devices are much more specialised and you are likely not to be aware of them unless you have required specialise surgery.
3D printing has become much more than designing and printing off your own devices at home.
The applications of 3D printing in medical environments include creating bespoke implants, or even joints to be made individually for patients.
Wireless Brain Sensors
Brain surgery is one of the most complex surgeries going, and treatment of it can be long and painful. A new MedTech device that has started being developed is a wireless brain sensor.
After surgery, the wireless device is left in the skull, which can transmit important information to surgeons and specialists who can decide if further treatment is required or not.
Currently, we rely on deceased patients to donate their organs to those in need of new organs.
Not only does this often mean patients die before they can even receive an organ, but there are additional issues such as the logistics of organ donation and rejection of the donor organ.
Artificial organs potentially allow organs to be ‘created’ on a case-by-case basis, which has the potential to remove some of the major problems with organ donation.
Opportunities in the HealthTech Industry
The internet and digital revolution has allowed companies to create devices that can continually monitor and measure different aspects of patients health.
This revolution has caused patients to expect better treatment, both at home and in healthcare environments, and so established businesses and startups are working to capitalise on demand.
Here are just some of the different HealthTech opportunities that are expected to thrive in the coming years:
The typical model for treating patients is to treat illnesses individually as they occur throughout a lifetime.
Using big data, there is the potential to continually monitor all data collected from different illnesses through a patient’s lifetime. Then, using artificial intelligence or machine learning, it is possible to connect the data and help predict and treat patient’s based on multiple factors.
Businesses that find a way to manage and present this data to doctors and clinicians are likely to be in high demand!
Biomarkers are anything that helps identify the physiological state of an organism at any time.
Just in the way Glucometer’s monitor insulin levels, measuring biomarkers continually and over a large time period has the potential to monitor and identify when an illness is starting to occur.
A prime example of this is cancer patients who don’t realise they have cancer until it is too late.
So, any HealthTech device that can help continually measure and monitor specific biomarkers is likely to have profound impact on the future treatment of illnesses.
The continuing advancement in robotic technology has great potential for HealthTech.
Robots already help healthcare professionals automate and improve the level of care that patients will receive. Think of machines that can continually monitor and alert patients vital signs, or robotics that help surgeons improve the precision and accuracy of intricate surgical procedures.
But that is just the start.
Any robotics that can be developed to free up more time to healthcare workers or advance the output of their care will prove beneficial.
Businesses that can identify and implement robots within a real healthcare environment are very likely to become profitable and sought after.
Illnesses are typically caused by many different factors, and how a patient responds to each illness varies. This is due to multiple factors to take into consideration, such as genetics and immunity and external factors such as the environment they live in.
By using big data and predictive modelling, it will eventually become possible to personalise medicine and treatment based on multiple data points, and provide a customised approach for different patients.
Blockchain is more than Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
In fact, blockchain technology has the potential to transform how patient information is accessed and transferred by medical professionals. The foundations of blockchain offer higher privacy and full audit trail of documentation.
The opportunities with blockchain will focus on integrating data-management systems successfully with other applications and systems successfully.
What Next for HealthTech?
HealthTech is likely to be one of the big industries in medicine and life in future years.
The demand for improved health will continue until the end of time and there will continue to be unmet health needs, and with so much innovation happening in the digital and online space, HealthTech is primed to take advantage of this.
Digital Marketing for HealthTech
The demand for better HealthTech will attract many businesses to get involved and profit from this growing sector.
If you work for a HealthTech business and you are looking to raise brand awareness of generate more visitors to your website and social channels, then get in touch with me to see what digital marketing services I can help you succeed with!