As the pandemic drags on, we’re witnessing an upward trend in digital health, making this sector one of the few industries that were actually able to grow despite, or even benefit from, COVID-19. With 2021 drawing to a close, we’re once again taking a look at the technologies that are likely to define MedTech innovation in 2022!
There’s growing emphasis on the innovation of technologies to improve healthcare, while the previously disparate worlds of wearables and medical technology are converging more and more. In the meantime, the usual suspects like data- and cloud-based solutions and Artificial Intelligence are slowly but surely transforming MedTech. This new era of digital medical technologies we’re living through is often referred to as Medtech 3.0.
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Empowering patients through wearables, remote health, and more
With telemedicine being one of the winners of the era of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that telehealth is expected to keep growing in 2022. Continuous remote monitoring through wearable devices and periodic online communication are transforming the relationship between clinician and patient into something more like a partnership. Having real-time access to accurate data about their own health can make patients more aware of the power of making behavioral changes. This trend also ties in well with healthcare becoming more data-driven, something that gives rise to further directions in digital health, as follows.
Health data, AI, and cybersecurity challenges
The growing amount of data that flows in from sources like sensor-equipped wearables and all the high-tech medical devices being used in patient care opens up new possibilities. As in all industries, leveraging data happens primarily by means of Artificial Intelligence algorithms. The market size for the various applications of AI in healthcare is expected to grow from $10.4 billion in 2021 to $120.2 billion by 2028. AI is already used in healthcare training research, treatment, diagnosis, and more – and new use cases are likely to pop up as the use of related technologies becomes more widespread.
However, growing reliance on data also increases the focus on cybersecurity challenges. All that very personal and valuable data will need to be protected as it is exchanged across various endpoints in the healthcare data fabric, requiring MedTech innovators to invest in novel cybersecurity measures. Developers need to surpass the requirements of the FDA’s 2018 guidance on MedTech cybersecurity, upping their threat modeling game to keep their devices safe and secure in 2022 and beyond.
Personalized medicine and predictive diagnostics
With all that data fueling Machine Learning and AI-based solutions, new models are emerging in medicine. The continuous inflow of data unlocks immense potential in predictive diagnostics, detecting all sorts of medical conditions in their early phases through the ongoing analysis of a patient’s health data. Then, precision medicine helps create personalized drugs through cell and gene therapies. As the value-based approach to healthcare gains even more traction, personalized therapies should become more commonplace in 2022 and beyond.
The regulatory framework becoming (even more) important
Though not a technology trend per se, this very much affects how medical devices are being built. It also affects the industry, as whenever the FDA (or other regulators) releases a new set of guidance or regulations, investor interest tends to turn towards the affected areas.
As all these new technologies are being built into tomorrow’s medical devices, the FDA is currently turning its watchful eye to AI. In its January 2021 Action Plan, the Food and Drug Administration emphasized the importance of AI and Machine Learning-based software as a medical device. No regulatory action has been taken yet, but the guidance signals the FDA’s interest in advancing its oversight of modern AI and ML-based solutions in digital health. This requires innovators to take future-proof measures in order to ensure their development processes are up to standard. They may need to revise their development methods, processes, or tools in order to make sure they stay compliant with any upcoming regulations in the US and globally.
Find out more about streamlining MedTech regulatory compliance: