Top 7 Trends in HealthTech to Watch in 2024
The year 2024 comes with a promise of significant growth for HealthTech, following a period of stagnation. This growth will likely be fueled by innovations brought by Generative AI, IoT, wearables, mental HealthTech, and more. What can we expect from the MedTech sector? Read our technology trends in healthcare for 2024.
While HealthTech was anticipated to flourish in the aftermath of COVID-19, it sadly became one of the most impacted sectors. Since 2021, this industry has witnessed a noticeable downturn, evident in the decline of stock values.
Source: State of Health Tech 2023
However, 2023 offered renewed optimism, marked by significant acquisitions that signal a promising outlook for 2024.
As stated in the State of Health Tech 2023 report:
The health tech cohort gains during summer of 2022 and January 2023 were mainly driven by announcements of relatively large acquisitions in the health tech sector, including Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, CVS Health’s 8 billion dollars acquisition of Signify Health, and CVS Health’s 10.6 billion dollars acquisition of Oak Street Health.
Despite the financial struggles faced by the HealthTech sector, the enduring results of COVID-19's digital transformation in healthcare could not be slowed down. The need for digitalization in healthcare has already been established within the industry and among patients, who feel empowered to use technology to manage their health daily.
It’s impossible to discuss innovations in healthcare without including Generative AI. It is a type of artificial intelligence that can produce new content, such as text, images, or data, by learning from existing examples and patterns. So, what Generative Al use cases in HealthTech are we most likely to see in 2024?
Medical imaging is a method used to create images of the inside of the body for medical diagnosis and treatment. It includes techniques like X-rays, MRI, CT scans, and ultrasound.
Generative AI models are used to enhance medical imaging, following:
- Generating high-resolution images from low-resolution inputs and reconstructing 3D images from 2D scans,
- Complete time-consuming work like tracing tumors, tracing structures, measuring the amount of fat and muscle in the body,
- Data augmentation: generating synthetic medical data, including images, text, or patient records or training machine learning models, especially when real data is limited or privacy concerns exist.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): generating human-like text, making them useful for tasks like medical transcription, generating clinical notes, and assisting with healthcare documentation.
- Radiology Report Generation: AI-driven models can automatically generate radiology reports based on medical images, helping radiologists save time and maintain consistency in their reporting.
AI can assist in diagnosing a variety of diseases, including:
- Cancer: AI algorithms can analyze medical images like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to detect tumors and other cancerous growths. Diabetes: Through pattern recognition in patient data, AI can help identify early signs of diabetes.
- Heart Disease: AI can analyze ECG patterns to detect heart conditions such as arrhythmias as well as identify other crucial factors such as atherosclerosis.
- Neurological Disorders: AI can help in diagnosing conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease by analyzing patient data and brain imaging.
- Skin Conditions: AI-driven image analysis tools can aid in diagnosing skin cancers and other dermatological conditions.
- Eye Diseases: AI algorithms can analyze retinal scans to detect diseases like diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
While most current healthcare chatbots (also called virtual healthcare assistants) are utilized to streamline processes like appointment scheduling, the focus for 2024 should be on exploring their potential as tools that also actively solve patient issues, for example in the mental health area.
It is very difficult for people with mental health disorders to actually talk about these things and to tell people 'I don't feel well.' So if this person feels very stigmatized and feels like it's not easy to talk about these things, to open up to this machine and say 'Well, I feel really, really bad today' and to hear something that seems like essentially what works is that they don't feel it's a person. The only reason they can open up is because they know it's not a person. It could also be that they don't have the person in front of them, so this kind of distance is what gives them the ability to actually talk about these issues.
The year 2024 could provide answers to crucial questions: Is it feasible and ethically acceptable to use chatbots, integrating tools from cognitive behavioral therapy and psychology, to assist users? Or is there a line that needs to be drawn regarding their use in mental health technology?
Virtue Market Research predicts the rapid growth of AI in preventive care. In 2022, the market was valued at USD 7 billion and is projected to reach USD 161.14 billion by 2030
Source: Virtue Market Research
In 2024, AI diagnostic applications in HealthTech should shift their focus from merely detecting diseases to also preventing them. For example, wearable medical devices, combined with AI applications, can monitor a patient's health. If the app detects high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke, and the patient is not undergoing treatment for these conditions, it can alert either the patient or a designated doctor.
This allows for early intervention and treatment, potentially preventing more serious health issues such as cardiovascular diseases which are a leading cause of death globally. In 2015, 17.7 million people died from cardiovascular diseases worldwide. By the year 2030, this number is projected to rise to 22 million. Can we fight these predictions without AI?
IoT and wearables in healthcare are nothing new, but their potential has not yet been fully realized. The focus for 2024 should be on wearable health monitoring devices that can track patients' vital signs 24 hours a day and on implementing these technologies more broadly.
As an example check the actual remote patient monitoring solution Camascope. This system can monitor patients' vital signs in the care home sector in the UK, alerting doctors and nurses if the vitals suggest a life-threatening condition of their patients.
Particularly interesting to follow in 2024 is the work on battery-free wearables for MedTech powered by… humans.
Using a thermoelectric generator, or TEG, to harvest the plentiful and continuously available heat or thermal energy generated by the human body and convert it into electricity, the research team from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Zhejiang University in collaboration with the Institute of Flexible Electronics Technology of THU successfully created a self-powered, wireless wearable to monitor heart rate, sweat composition, and body motion in real-time.
Another interesting trend to watch in 2024 is smart rings. The smart rings market size is expected to increase significantly. By 2027, it's forecasted to grow by approximately USD 34.40 billion.
Smart rings are wearable devices that are becoming smaller and more convenient alternatives to smartwatches. Similarly to smartwatches, smart rings offer a wide range of healthcare and fitness functions, from vital signs monitoring and sleep recording to activity tracking. The market for smart ring producers is growing, with Big Tech close to joining. Will 2024 be the year when Apple and Samsung release their first smart rings? We're about to find out! :)
MedTech wearables are growing in popularity, aligning with another trend known as biohacking. This movement empowers individuals to improve their body's functionality and enhance physical and cognitive performance. Central to biohacking is the accessibility of technology, including smart devices, that enable people to take a more active role in managing their health. These devices facilitate self-care allowing people to monitor various aspects of health, such as the effects of their diet, physical activities, medication, and more.
Telemedicine gained significant popularity during the pandemic, evidenced by the sharp increase in telehealth visits among Medicare recipients from about 5 million to over 53 million in the early stages. Cost savings are a crucial factor in telemedicine growth. A study conducted among nonelderly patients with cancer using telehealth shows that the average cost savings per telemedicine visit for patients range from 147 to 186 dollars. That means lower costs for patients as well as public or private healthcare insurance providers.
Moving into 2024, the focus should shift towards developing systematic solutions that enhance telemedicine accessibility for groups in dire need, such as seniors and chronic disease patients.
Telehealth companies that will design software solutions addressing challenges like limited internet access, and technological unfamiliarity of end users have the potential to lead the way in telemedicine in the following years.
The Patient Engagement Apps market is predicted to continually grow over the next few years. As stated on Expert Market Research:
The global patient engagement solutions market size attained a value of approximately USD 22.74 billion in 2023. The market is further expected to grow in the forecast period of 2024-2032 at a CAGR of 17.10%, reaching about USD 94.17 billion by 2032.
An important aspect of this market is related to managing chronic diseases, which are still not fully covered by HealthTech.
As of 2024, the chronic disease situation in the United States is a significant health and economic concern. Patients with chronic diseases incur average direct healthcare costs of about 6,032 dollars annually, which is approximately five times higher than those without a chronic disease. The costs are mainly due to more frequent hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and greater prescription drug use. Notably, about 60% of all emergency room visits are associated with people with chronic conditions, costing around $8.3 billion in 2017.
Patient Engagement Apps are the perfect solutions to monitor, support, and prevent rising costs of hospitalizations and treatment of patients with chronic diseases.
Get inspired by the story behind the app for Parkinson’s patients built to engage users to monitor their symptoms better.
In 2019-2020, 20.78% of adults were experiencing a mental illness, equivalent to over 50 million Americans. Additionally, 10.8% of adults with a mental illness are uninsured, and over half (54.7%) do not receive treatment. Therefore, mental HealthTech in 2024 should continue to focus on increasing access to mental support.
Explore the most promising use cases of mental HealthTech:
TeleTherapy Platforms: platforms enabling remote therapy sessions between mental health professionals and clients through video calls, audio calls, or messaging. [Companies worth watching: BetterHealth, TeenConsulting, Ritual.]
Online Support Groups: platforms where individuals can find peer support. [Check the success story of the startup Circles which emerges as a premier online support platform.]
AI-Powered Chatbots for Mental Health: as mentioned earlier in the article chatbots using AI can provide immediate, 24/7 support for individuals seeking mental health assistance. [Companies worth watching: Weabot Health, Limbic]
Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps: tech offering guided mindfulness and relaxation exercises, which can be beneficial for reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. [Companies worth watching: HeadSpace, Calm, Buddhify, Aura]
Apps for Crisis Intervention: apps providing immediate assistance to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, offering resources such as crisis hotlines, safety planning, and immediate coping strategies. [Companies worth watching: Suicide Safe, Weabot Health]
We are! Let us know in the comment what other predictions you have.