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5G in healthcare and Digital Twins in drug development to propel progress of pharma and medical device industry

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, December 31, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

5G and Digital Twins in drug development & delivery will propel progress of healthcare and pharma industry respectively. Digital Twin technology is deployed to simulate numerous tasks in the drug production process to generate complex data in real-time.
Suhas Tamras, vice president, healthcare & lifesciences, Tata Elxsi, said that in the near future, healthcare industry will see significant developments in both medical devices and in the pharmaceuticals space.
The visible trends in medical devices are connected and remote healthcare. With 5G, we will see increased digital connectivity and greater bandwidth. Software as a Medical Device will be another trend. With the Covid-19 pandemic, technology adoption was high in the in-vitro-diagnostic space. MedTech start-ups and IVD manufacturers are thus looking at developing point-of-care diagnostic platforms for rapid testing and diagnosis, he added.
Delving on to pharma trends, Tamras noted that Digital Twins in drug development and delivery is seeing a rise, where pharma companies are using software models instead of the traditional drug discovery practices in chemistry labs. In fact, most pharma companies now have digital subsidiaries to build these software platforms. A primary reason for this trend is the ability to be engaged with patients through the entire journey of the drug which allows them to measure and ensure the efficacy of the medicine. Patient engagement platforms are thus being developed by many pharma companies.
Further, there is an increase in the growth of Digital Therapeutics, to help prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease based on scientific evidence. Many certified DTx applications are already in use in the US, Europe, and the UK. Therefore, many leading medical devices and pharma companies are now buying stakes in innovative startups in this space. To this end, Tata Elxsi has also joined the Digital Therapeutics Alliance to accelerate the development of safe and effective Digital Therapeutic solutions, said Tamras.
Drex DeFord, executive healthcare strategist, CrowdStrike, stated, “Our research indicates that the healthcare sector is one of the top five cyber targets and threats are expected to increase in 2023. Throughout 2022, we saw a rise in identity-based attacks. Therefore, in 2023, healthcare providers must prioritize and invest in a unified identity threat protection platform that prioritizes zero trust to prevent identity-based attacks in real-time and ultimately, protect sensitive personal health information.”
According to Eric Hui, director business development - IoT Ecosystems, Asia-Pacific, Equinix, there will be more avenues to enable secure and compliant data collaborations. Covid accelerated pharmaceutical research collaborations. We can increase research velocity with data sharing methods like federation and metadata. There will be an increase in use of high bandwidth private point-to-point connections rather than open internet with VPN due to petabyte scale data sizes and regulatory requirements.
There will be efforts to optimise cloud resources with growing data needs. In fact, cloud resources have kick-started quite a number of healthcare and life sciences projects, but there are some legacy and critical data sets that require institutions to host it on their own. Therefore, we expect more hybrid cloud architectural deployments integrating physical and cloud resources happening in this sector, said Hui.
Besides, more investments in health data ingestion points and processing engines are envisaged. Video conferencing and healthcare tracking IoT devices to sense vitals and postures are increasingly popular to support patients who have mobility limitations, noted Hui.


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