Smart Tech The ‘Digital Twin’ Impact on the Healthcare Industry
The digital twin technology is making waves in the healthcare industry with major pharma players and research institutes exploring the smart technology to unveil new opportunities and revolutionizing the sector like never before. Right from real-time simulation of a vaccine manufacturing process to visualizing the simulations for disease prevention and treatment, the digital twin technology boasts of innumerable advantages. Read on to find out more about this smart and innovative technology.
Industry 4.0 is unveiling right before our eyes and in the years to come we may also witness the dominance of different technologies such as augmented reality, generative AI, and even blockchain across industrial sectors. Our world is quickly changing and becoming highly connected and digitalized. In this background, another technology is making headlines – the digital twin technology.
As the name suggests, the digital twin technology replicates the physical assets of a product or object, production process or performance of a production system into a virtual system. It makes use of real-time data to analyze and optimize systems as well as processes. The technology also helps to monitor the systems and detect problems even before they occur in the real world. This process prevents downtime and also develops new opportunities for industry players.
According to market insight specialist Statista, the market value of the digital twin technology in the healthcare industry was 0.29 billion dollars in 2020 and is expected to reach 3.81 billion dollars in 2025. This goes onto show the huge potential of this technology in this crucial industry.
Digital twin technology in action
Development of vaccines: In the pharmaceutical sector, this technology is being explored extensively. For example, Glaxosmithkline (GSK), the UK-based pharma firm, makes use of the digital twin technology for real-time simulation of its vaccine manufacturing process. Initially used for focusing on the production of particles of a vaccine adjuvant, the technology is now being applied for the development of vaccines and also has the potential to be used for transforming the process of vaccine R&D further upstream. The ability to quickly produce data needed to confirm theories as well as provide an insight into real experiments by suggesting fewer materials are some of the plus points of utilizing this technology.
Optimizing modular production lines: Similarly, the pharma major Sanofi has also utilized the digital twin technology from Dassault Systèmes for optimizing its modular production lines at its facilities in France and Singapore. There are stringent rules that must be followed in the pharma sector with regards to the facilities, equipment and processes before production actually begins, hence, this technology helps industry players to visualize, monitor the operations and also optimize the scale up of the production lines before it is set up at the unit. This helps the company to standardize modules, reduce the timeframe, and boost their ability to quickly and massively produce crucial therapies, mentions a release by Dassault Systèmes.
Disease prevention and treatment: The human body can also be duplicated in the virtual world in order to understand how the body might react to different treatments. One example of this: Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a blood pressure electronic tattoo which helps to monitor a person’s blood pressure continuously and at all times. This innovative solution is pathbreaking and will provide better and more accurate results as compared to the more traditional way of checking blood pressure with the help of cuff-based machines. All the data collected from this e-tattoo can be used to develop a digital twin of the human body which can help to predict how the body will respond to treatments over time, shares a press release by the university.
In addition to this, the Japanese Tohoku University has collaborated with the information and communications technology company Fujitsu Ltd to develop digital twin technologies for the medical sector so that they too can create digital twins of patients. This move will help them to visualize the simulations for disease prevention and treatment of their patients. The patient’s medical records as well data collected from various medical devices will be used as the basis to produce the digital twin which will help medical experts to determine the best treatment plan for a specific patient and also predict their health conditions in the future. If implemented on a large-scale, this process can cut down medical costs drastically for patients and national governments.
On a concluding note
The digital twin technology is already challenging the traditional framework with its countless benefits and as more and more research institutes and companies across different parts of the globe make use of the technology for optimizing or establishing completely new processes or treatment plans, one thing is clear: digital twin is here to stay and will truly transform the healthcare industry.