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New Technologies, Business Models Emerging to Fix Trillion-Dollar Health Care Market

Tue, 08/13/2013 - 7:42am
The Associated Press

Soaring health care costs across the globe, accompanied by growing demands from aging populations and emerging economies, are fueling technological and business innovation to address an emerging need in an industry worth trillions of dollars, according to Lux Research.

In the emerging paradigm, new lower-cost, distributed sensors and diagnostics will become much more important than our current, traditional late-stage diagnostics and reactive therapeutic strategies.

Examples of newer technologies include wearable devices such as smart fabrics; deep-brain stimulation devices to treat growing neurological diseases, near-infrared spectroscopy for inexpensive brain imaging, and multi-purpose devices that can measure and display core vital signs.

"The seeds of change have already started to sprout. New technologies focused on improving the quality of, and access to, health care are emerging across the medical spectrum," said Milos Todorovic, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, "Revolutionizing Health Care: Using New Technologies to Address Age-Old Challenges."

The report is the first State of the Market assessment from the new BioElectronics Intelligence service launched in March.

Lux Research's new specialized service will study the emerging environment in which increasing technological innovation, along with alternative business models, seek to overturn health care's rigid regulatory structures, entrenched market channels, and high costs.

Lux Research views the spectrum of health care through 'the health preservation cycle' -- characterized by four stages; Maintenance, Diagnosis, Treatment and Monitoring -- to predict the new class of technology winners, along with major implications for traditional players in the new landscape.

To better understand the drivers shaping the new health-care space, Lux Research analysts evaluated the trends in emerging technologies. Among their findings:

Direct-to-home and wellness are ways of the future. Many companies are turning their attentions to the still-nascent home health and wellness markets. New sensor technologies for ubiquitous monitoring of vital signs; analyte detection technologies to screen for diseases; and Big Data analytics will help identify causal effects between lifestyle choices and chronic conditions. Combination devices will lower cost, optimize treatment. On the therapeutic front, popular trends in health and medical device innovation include smart delivery devices for drugs and biologics, nanotechnology for less-invasive surgeries, and device-based therapies and implants that will challenge traditional pharmaceuticals. Over the long term, intelligent implants will connect straight into the central or peripheral nervous system, enabling direct control, lowering the costs for doctor visits and customizing treatment. Personalized medicine requires advanced technologies. The trend toward personalized medicine is driving the industry toward smaller, implantable devices that can provide targeted therapy. New biocompatible materials and bioresorptive flexible electronics, for example, will be used for controlled and defined period release of implanted drugs. Razor and razorblade strategy. Health-care will borrow the powerful business model offered by the traditional "razor and razorblade," where the bulk of revenue is realized from consumables. For medical devices, the comparable applications are designed one-time use devices used for analyte detection and imaging. Many of these will be targeted for direct home use.

The report, titled "Revolutionizing Health Care: Using New Technologies to Address Age-Old Challenges," is part of the Lux Research BioElectronics Intelligence service.

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