Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, 3D printers, Big Data, Apps, Robotics, Cloud Computing, Digital pills, Wearables, eHealth, mHealth, Patient entrepreneurs … The list of buzz words within digital health, or health tech, is long and expectations are high that this rapidly emerging field will revolutionize healthcare, where technology itself can also be a treatment.
In our latest issue of Nordic Life Science we take a look at the status of the Nordics in parts of this field, from funding and prerequisites for health tech startups to the use of AI in hospitals. Without a doubt, digital health is an important key for success in our life science industry, and has attracted the attention of both investors and governments. Big pharmas, such as Novo Nordisk, are buying into diabetes mHealth, the Finnish government has launched a new center for AI innovations and the Digital Hub was launched in Denmark earlier this year to encourage tech businesses. Norway Health Tech and similar regional clusters are also providing critical assistance to startups. And health tech today is among our region’s five most well-funded tech categories.
Our region is also home to several promising digital health inventions, such as the first intelligent surgical knife, the world’s first technology to transform images from a rapid whole body MRI into 3D-volumetric fat and muscle measurements, a computer-controlled balloon catheter, a cloud-based oncology platform, AI-powered clinical genetic testing, an online platform providing bioinformatic analysis of genome sequencing, and we have the first company in the world to use bioink.
On the plus side of our account here in the North are our quality records and biobanks, our highly ranked innovation and healthcare systems and our long tradition of IT and telecom. We are open for new innovations and there is a patient-driven demand for innovations within this field. But we cannot rest on old laurels. In a recent study, conducted by the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the Nordic region is expected to lose its digital leadership within the next few years, as the rate of digital development is lower than countries such as Singapore, Japan and Hong-Kong.
We need a powerful strategy to implement digital health in our society. Future innovation in life sciences is about integrating medtech, pharmaceuticals and digital solutions, stated the panel in a Sahlgrenska Science Park session on digital health at this year’s Nordic Life Science Days. They also stated that in order to move forward in digital health innovative thinking in many dimensions is required. And it also requires new types of collaborations, both cross-border and cross-discipline/sector collaborations, in order to both establish a new perspective on healthcare in our Nordic societies and also to make health tech our new life science export.