December 17, 2018
New technologies in the healthcare industry
New technology in the health sector
New technology in the healthcare industry is the current focus of the Congress of the Council of the Future of the Bavarian Economy. The main challenge currently, is securing long-term financing of the German healthcare system and guaranteeing the best possible care. New technologies can contribute substantially to reducing costs, overcoming shortages in healthcare delivery and strengthen patient’s involvement and autonomy. Above all, technological progress and digitalization also hold immense potential to increasing efficiency and effectiveness in this sector, thereby reducing the chances of too little or too much healthcare provision.
The opportunities offered by new technologies and trends will bring tremendous changes in the areas of biotechnology, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology and information and communication technology (ICT).
Digital healthcare industry
New technologies in the areas of information and communications technology (ICT) are bundled together as “digital healthcare industry.” e-health is a key term for a wide spectrum of ICT-supported, electronic applications ranging from telematics solutions to the use of digital assist systems in the home (ambient assisted living). In the assisted nursing industry, these systems can enable patients to remain in their own homes for as long as possible at the same time, providing a more efficient as well as more personally tailored nursing assistance. Increasing use of digital technologies will fundamentally change the way people work as well as processes and products in the healthcare industry and act as a driver for further innovation.
Assistant robotic systems, big data and artificial intelligence
Another key technology with tremendous potential is medical technology: It is being deployed in all relevant areas of the healthcare industry as well as in the home. Amongst the important areas is that of robotics. Assistant robots transport people with limited mobility and assist patients with personal hygiene and grooming or provide nursing utensils. Long term, it is possible that robots can take over social tasks and support and help maintain the cognitive abilities of patients. Assistant robotic systems are also increasingly deployed in operating rooms, especially in minimal invasive procedures. Imaging is another key field and an area in which Bavaria is a global leader. Through advances in digitalization, it is possible to create precise 3-D models in real time, making it much easier for surgeons to plan an operative procedure. Initial success has been achieved using special nanoparticles as contract agents. Additionally, the use of big data and artificial intelligence are becoming more important. Both can help doctors more effectively analyze and interpret data from imaging procedures as well as contribute to optimizing clinical research.
The next revolution – biotech
The next far-reaching technological revolution to come after digitalization will be biotechnology. The term Biotech refers to several procedures, methods and products that make it possible to use enzymes, cells and organisms in technical applications. Red biotechnology plays a decisive role with its focus applications in healthcare, medicine and pharmaceuticals. The development of the CRISPR/Cas9 method in 2012 is considered a breakthrough in the field. Combined with state-of-the-art analysis and data analytics, this method makes it possible to modify DNA building blocks in genetic material. But also, there is tremendous potential in biotechnological medication to treat autoimmune diseases, in the use of biomarkers in cancer treatment or in tissue engineering for growing artificial organs. The idea behind biotech is to develop medicine and methods of treatment for specific groups of patients (stratified medicine) as well as individuals (personalized medicine). Connections to other technologies are seamless as these topics are also being studied in the pharmaceuticals sector and in the field of nanotechnology.
The vbw study, Healthcare and Medicine – Challenges and Opportunities, details the opportunities and potential of the new technologies and highlights the importance of the digital healthcare industry for Bavaria. Based on the findings of the studies, the Council of the Future of the Bavarian Economy has compiled action plan recommendations for policy makers, scientific community, business community and society. Visit www.vbw-zukunftsrat.de to order the study and download the recommendations of the Council of the Future of the Bavarian Economy. The site also features short video portraits of the 48 exhibitors who attended the Congress of the Council of the Future of the Bavarian Economy, which took place on 16 July 2018 in Munich. At the event, the exhibitors presented and demonstrated innovative products and technologies in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, therapy, assistance and care. The Congress exhibitions are now being presented throughout Bavaria at five regional events.