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the microsampling blog

5 healthcare trends investors will be watching in 2021

Science graphic against happy scientist examining test tube on digitally generated backgroundJust like every other industry, the healthcare sector continues to experience drastic changes. With each new year, it helps to identify the trends that are likely to shape the industry. This way, investors can be on the lookout for new opportunities in health-tech and biotech industries.

According to healthcare executives and a recent update from this year's Consumer Electronics (CES) show, here are the top trends that will shape healthcare and health-tech in 2021:

1. Alcohol and Drug Screening

The drug and alcohol screening industry is worth approximately $7 billion. There is a growing demand in the workplace and in traffic control settings to test both legal and illegal drugs and substances. It’s predicted the market will continue growing exponentially in the next few years.

Many toxicology research labs have expanded their drug and alcohol studies, thanks to microsampling. Through this procedure, labs can analyze tiny blood samples collected remotely for the presence of over 200 different drugs. Employer screening programs, traffic control agencies, and addiction treatment and recovery centers in some countries may soon be using remote specimen sampling for quick and accurate alcohol and drug screening.

2. Augmented and Virtual Reality Integration

Augmented and virtual reality provide new healthcare options in several areas, such as surgical training programs, treatment approaches like distraction for use in pain management, and to provide supplemental clinical experiences. With specially designed virtual reality (VR) software, medical professionals can view images from a new and detailed perspective. For example, George Washington University Hospital medical personnel recently analyzed lung scans of a COVID-19 patient using VR software.

3. Genomics, Proteomics, and Precision Medicine

Genetic  data can help capture, analyze, and sequence various genetic disorders. The aim is to improve RNA/DNA testing through proteomics. This comprehensive study of the entire protein complement of a cell enables the medical research industry to discover better treatments that clinicians can apply. With new artificial intelligence (AI) driving drug discovery processes, it is becoming easier to sort through millions of chemical structures to identify new interventions.

2020 healthcare trends In the wake of COVID-19, pharmaceutical companies, researchers, and biotech companies have realized the importance of building on traditional methods and enhancing them with new technology.

AI and blockchain technology have made it easier to achieve precision medicine in disease treatment and prevention.

4. Portable Medical Devices

Portable medical devices have significantly influenced how people monitor their health and well-being. These devices provide options for home-based care that can be paired with real-time updates to healthcare providers through bluetooth connectivity and telehealth communications. Portable devices, and even portable health kits for specimen collection, also allow patients to have continuous and convenient monitoring of their own health parameters, without requiring a visit to the hospital or clinic.

Some portable devices and kits that allow for self-monitoring at home include the Mitra® Collection Kits from Neoteryx. Other portable technology that is now in higher demand for research or healthcare includes:

  • Accurate scales
  • Automated insulin pumps
  • Blood pressure monitors
  • Wearable heart monitors
  • Glucometers
  • Other wearables

All these tools are geared to making remote care more effective, which is particularly relevant and important during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, when patients have to stay at home. Such tools are likely to continue being sought moving forward, as researchers and medical practitioners realize their value in keeping people safe during research studies and providing continuity of care beyond physical barriers.

5. Remote Patient Monitoring

According to U.S. News, telemedicine visits made up 35% of all primary care visits from April-June 2020. Study participants and patients find the telehealth or "tele-research" approach very convenient, as it doesn't require them to take time off work or obtain childcare coverage for appointments.

Through remote patient monitoring, physicians and research coordinators can:

  • Adjust medication or treatment through telehealth
  • Automate and respond to alerts
  • Minimize hospital visits and hospitalizations
  • Get a comprehensive and holistic outlook of a patient’s health
  • Understand a patient’s biometrics and their monitor progress and adherence to treatment programs

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