By Dr. David Dalton, Advisory Board member, IR-Med
Technology continues to be the driving force behind new generations of innovation—and the healthcare field is not immune to its impact, especially when it comes to the accuracy and efficiency that artificial intelligence is bringing to biotechnology. Life-saving drugs developed at record speed, advancements in gene editing breakthroughs that inform more efficacious preventive care regimes, and data algorithms that support more accurate diagnoses: These are just a few of the reasons that scientists, medical specialists and investors have their eyes on the biotech industry in 2023, with the rapid discovery and rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in 2020 still fresh in our minds. What does this mean for healthcare professionals seeking new solutions to treat patients? Revolutionary care solutions coming that will create more equal access to care and improve outcomes for overall population health.
Here are some areas of biotechnology poised to witness growth in 2023 and the ways in which these exciting developments are reshaping the healthcare industry, along with the market trends enabling progress.
Areas of growth
AI is expediting research. The significance of identifying certain disease states and their appropriate treatment is primarily due to AI support; without AI, we wouldn’t have access to the real-time knowledge of various medical indicators that we do. Advanced capabilities in testing for diseases and determining their cause via biomarkers has led to expanded possibilities for more accurate diagnoses, including the development of noninvasive early-stage detection tools that can impact specialist decision-making, simplify medical treatment and lower healthcare costs.
More personalized treatment
In examining biomaterial for aberrations, AI diagnostic tools can zoom down to the cellular level—not just to image the composite of one cellular intellect, but to take all of cells in a sample and put them through a process where one can identify and dissect the deficiency and target the appropriate cure. Even today, the best treatment for an individual is more personalized because of AI, which is very exciting.
Greater access to telehealth services
We’re at a critical juncture in outpatient care where rising medical costs, combined with doctor shortages and growing waitlists to see a specialist in person make it clear change is needed. Enter telehealth, the way of the (doctor’s visit) future. If we define biotech as the use of technology to harness biological processes, telehealth platforms represent a radical change-up in the delivery of health information for individuals. Telehealth is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the biotech realm, largely because legislation lifting appointment restrictions and encouraging adoption of the service has only recently been authorized.
Leaps in cancer research
One of the slowest or most difficult areas of advancement in biotech has been in cancer research. That’s changing, though, as recently there’s been significant progress in the identification of cancer cells that are now treatable. Stage 3 cancer therapies have been improved significantly, as have treatments for more historically resistant cancers such as leukemia.
Trends enabling progress
The fact remains that research and development are expensive. (Consider that it was the drug manufacturers with the deepest pockets who could produce the Covid-19 vaccines when the world needed them urgently.) From an investment standpoint, 2023 is poised to be a great year for biotech, in part because of the number of game-changing products and fee-for-service startups that have entered the market.
Patient attitudes toward HIPAA support research
Another surefire “win” with AI is its ability to continuously monitor data for regulatory compliance. When it comes to meeting the complex standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) that protect patient health information, today’s automated data systems have controls in place to receive only consented data, which lowers the barrier to working with population health information in research environments. Not to mention, the general population now understand what HIPAA is and have less concern about their health information being misused when it comes to sharing it with trusted providers. The result is less of a restraint or barrier to scientific studies and medical breakthroughs.
Big Tech talent migration into biotech
The recurring rounds of layoffs that began with the Big Tech companies last fall will not curb the progress happening in the medical environment; instead, what we might see is a portion of this tech talent migrate to biotech startups focused on resolving a specific disease state, as opposed to choosing to work with yet another Big Tech firm to help it break into the healthcare industry (like Amazon into pharmacy).
Because of their individual focus, these smaller biotech companies can make faster progress, which may appeal to this crop of talent reared on startup culture. We see this example of nimble, focused progress in disease states like sickle cell anemia, which smaller tech companies are tackling various components of to determine the cause of the disease. Findings are much better than what we had just two to three years ago.
Plenty of capital for cures
Something we’ve known is that identifying cures for a disease takes research. Something we’re learning is that if your research has enough capital, you will find a resolution. Right now we are finding cures for disease states we didn’t even think would exist as recently as three years ago. This is why the U.S. leads in resolving most disease states: We have a capital platform to be able to target areas with fast resolution. This is why most countries look to us for solutions in medicine.
The rapid rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine revealed biotech firms could arrive at solutions rapidly with a technology-driven infrastructure in place and the right amount of capital. Since then, by integrating AI into workflow processes, researchers have been able to bypass many steps (that just a few years ago would have been completed manually) and obtain information and testing results in record time, which allows for more agile pivots in experimentation. Processes that might have taken five years now take five months—technology is proving itself.
The embrace of new technology in a medical environment will result in faster identification of a disease state. Only three years ago, physicians were operating differently, sending specimens to a lab for manual analysis; now, AI conducts the analysis. In other words, all of the platforms a doctor uses to make a medical determination have become optimized for less error and more accurate results. Healthcare professionals who choose to participate in this transformation and harness technology to support their medical decisions will do right by patients, who will receive more accurate diagnoses and more personalized treatment. Biotech’s contributions to the field, in the form of better data, quicker to-market drugs, and solutions aiding with early-stage detection, are helping chart a new course for modern medicine.
The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.