Healthcare Technology Companies: A Look into 2021 and beyond

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Credit by Army Medicine via Flickr

Research is the backbone of healthcare technology companies, and research results are usually only accepted after very rigorous testing and independent confirmation. But, behind this accumulation of knowledge, is the corporate will of business entities that are also equally motivated by the economic advantages that a new medical concept or idea may bring.

We present today’s healthcare tech companies. Robust institutions that are at the forefront of current cutting edge healthcare technology. Each has its specialty and a field where it excels most. But the technical exclusivity does not limit the horizon of their ideas.

In fact, it may perhaps be with integration, or the combination of many different principles, that these health tech companies will be capable of continuing to deliver brighter ideas and new concepts in the field of medicine.

(DISCLAIMER: This article will provide a few samples for each major technology category. As such, this will NOT include every healthcare technology company under each category. Some of the bigger companies may also be omitted in favor of healthcare tech startups or more innovative entities.)

Digitization and Automation

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These two key technologies are the most mundane and ordinary of all the baseline tech applications in the healthcare technology industry today. Yet, without these, the speed and efficiency of processing and dealing with patients and their records will not be able to keep up with the exponential growth of the human population today.

  • AdvancedMD Inc. – is one of the most popular healthcare tech companies that focuses on developing EMR software to digitize and automate any medical processing system. Its fully-featured practice management and medical billing software are among the most recommended, although its service package add-ons may not be the most flexible for everyone.
  • Greenway Health – is another highly recommended EMR company, very well known for introducing its proprietary Intergy system. This is a smart process management system that offers wide flexibility when it comes to task options. The base package cost for Greenway Health is actually slightly higher than AdvancedMD, though its high customizability and scalability may offset this economic downside.
  • CareCloud – this health tech company has a much lower barrier to entry by offering lower costs on their stand-alone practice management software (PMS) options. While the previous two are scalable to large-scale medical operations, CareCloud focuses solely on smaller medical practices.

Artificial Intelligence

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AI in healthcare mostly includes statistical analytics, or software that sift through electronic health records (EHR) or staff management schedules to visualize a trend or a dataflow for doctors to use effectively. That being said, a growing section of this category is now being dedicated to more breakthrough ideas. Highly-advanced applications such as diagnostic prediction and discovery, are now also within the realm of artificial intelligence.

  • Google Health (DeepMind) – While Google Health itself may have had very questionable performance over the last decade, its DeepMind AI was busy at work with pattern analysis and mobile tools development. One of its latest and greatest accomplishments, is the development of AlphaFold, a program used to analyze and determine 3D protein structures, something that is absolutely needed in accelerating our understanding of microbiology today.
  • IBM Watson Health – is IBM’s largest medical division that works on the motto of “healthcare solutions through advanced information technology.” Watson, its primary supercomputer, was ultimately designed to contribute to clinical decision support systems, though with varying degrees of success and mediocrity.
  • CloudMedX Health – this company primarily specializes in predictive healthcare models. Applications for their services range from the more mundane automated medical staff management, to more technical ones such as EHR-based patient handling and assessment. Much like other healthcare tech companies, CloudMedX aims to provide services directly to medical professionals and patients alike, widening the scope of what their AI tools are able to do.

Wearable Tech

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While wearable technology is already a relatively old healthcare concept, the industry began to enjoy an economic boom over the course of the decade starting in 2010. This is thanks to the proliferation of mobile technologies that help make their designs and applications more universal. Often imagined as strap-on devices that simply track the body’s vitals, its potential applications are actually very wide. In fact, wearable tech is set to grow even further as telecommunication technologies advance further.

  • AliveCor – a medical company that is most famously known today for their mobile EKG devices. Kardia is the central app that the company has designed to interface with its pocket EKGs. It is simply to use, non-invasive, and comprehensive, with the data also transferable online for doctors to access remotely.
  • Motiv – one of the bigger players of the fitness tracking wearable industry, this company differentiates itself by using a ring, instead of a traditional arm-strapped or wrist-strapped device. The Motiv Ring, as it is called, provides baseline fitness tracking, recording the wearer’s activity level, distance moved, (estimated) calories burned, sleep duration, and (rudimentary) heart-rate.
  • FitBit – is perhaps the most widely known company in the fitness tracking industry. It has set the standard for how smart fitness trackers should be designed, and the company has developed a slew of products with varying levels of health tracking features. The trackers themselves are touted as a recommendation for weight loss programs, though this has since been disputed.

3D Printing

Worker using equipment of one of many Healthcare Technology Companies
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Healthcare-based 3D printing industries are not as prevalent nor as old, but they are still widely gaining ground in breakthrough medical research today. Most importantly, the development of cheaper, personalized 3D printing hardware has allowed certain healthcare categories to become far more accessible now than ever before. This is not even touching the technology’s huge potential to become a game-changer should it become advanced enough in the near future.

  • Organovo – This is one among many healthcare technology company companies that focuses on 3D bioprinting. Organovo specialises in 3D bioprinting human tissue to supply test materials for facilities conducting preclinical drug testing and discovery. Like many other bioprinting companies, Organovo’s end goal is the eventual perfect replication of functional human organs for transplantation.
  • Materialise NV – is a healthcare tech company that has been in existence since the early days of large-scale industrial usage of 3D printing. Since then, it has branched out into many specific market sectors, including its business operations as Materialise Medical. As for its specific 3D printing specialty, the company designs customized implants as well as surgical guides. It was also the very first company in the world to receive FDA approval of its diagnostic 3D printed anatomical models.
  • Rokit – being one of the largest 3D printing manufacturers in South Korea, it has many different subsidiaries, including the 3D printing division of Rokit Healthcare. Most of its bioprinting processes are used directly as medical treatments, utilizing many different design disciplines for each individual case.

Augmented Reality (AR)

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Initially touted as the next step in multimedia and environmental immersion, AR has since found more practical applications in several engineering and medical industries. Most notably, medical applications of AR in healthcare opened many doors to novel supportive treatment methods, as well as potentially changing the way doctors and patients process medical information during procedures.

  • Microsoft (HoloLens) – while not exclusively designed for medical use, Microsoft’s HoloLens found its way into the healthcare industry with its “mixed” applications in education and training. For example, accurately placed internal organs can be projected onto test dummies, so that students can actively train their medical skills using visual interactive elements.
  • AccuVein – is a service company that provides expert solutions on one single medical application: vein visualization. As the company’s name suggests, AccuVein’s AR services provide an accurate rendering of veins when the hardware is focused on the target body part. Of course, the most basic use of this is when any type of intravenous procedure is required, which includes regular drug injections.
  • Aira – is technically a wearable support company. It is mainly offering AR glasses that are designed to aid visually impaired people through instant access to information. Think of a modified version of Google Glass, but with much more AI-powered navigational data, plus a live operator to guide the user from point A to point B.

Virtual Reality (VR)

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VR itself is a technology that goes all the way back into the late 20th century. However, it is only now that its immersive potential is truly realized with the development of much more powerful hardware and sophisticated sensor systems. Healthcare tech companies that focus on VR often provide solutions that take advantage of this high level of immersion, whether it is used for certain therapies, or direct simulations.

  • MindMaze – this healthcare technology company attempts to combine neuroscience and digital therapy with the use of VR simulations. This is with a particular focus on rehabilitation for patients, who lost their neural functions in one way or another. For instance, its MindPod service is developed to reinvigorate the brain’s movement functions, in order “to promote recovery of motor skills and cognitive function.”
  • Osso VR – is a very promising VR healthcare startup. Their specialty is VR training, more specifically the provision of software packages that will allow students and current professionals alike to access practical surgical training. Their services also include an additional assessment platform, to which individual performance may be rated, and subsequent courses are adjusted to their type and level of expertise.
  • Syncthink – is not exactly a VR healthcare per se, but is technically within the field due to its related specialty. Their signature product, the proprietary EYE-SYNC device, measures eye movement variance through a simple VR test. By producing synchronization data on this test, doctors can instantly determine if the patient could have underlying medical conditions based on eye coordination issues.

Brain-Machine Interfacing

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Stereotypically thought of as a very invasive medical procedure, BMI has since then produced many different pioneering concepts that explore the idea of non-invasive, or very minimally-invasive interfacing. Most endgame applications for BMI today often concern patients with brain disorders. But in the future, researchers generally hope that it can be utilized to augment human brain function as a whole.

  • Emotiv – is a “bio-informatics” healthcare technology company that mainly develops and manufactures easy-to-wear electroencephalography (EEG) equipment. The main objective is brain data measurement, or to gauge individual “cognitive performance,” which can then be used for many other different medical applications.
  • BitBrain – may produce a variety of different tracking products, but its primary lineup is its EEG and biosignal tracking devices. For this particular category, we focus on the company’s neurotechnology solutions, which often combine low-profile, wireless monitoring, with artificial intelligence. BitBrain’s products may not be as subtle as Emotiv’s, but they still attempt to be adequately practical and reliable nonetheless.
  • Neuralink – has long since been known as one of the most ambitious BMI startups within the health tech startup space. This Health care tech company builds upon decades of knowledge and expertise by using devices to translate brain activity into digital data that can then be used to interface with computers. Initially launched for the neurally impaired, but will eventually move towards “controlling your laptops with just your mind.”

Gene Editing

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Most people still think of gene editing as an idea that is still in the realm of science fiction. True, some of the more fantastic potential applications of gene editing are still unattainable. But for the most part, we have already reached a gene-editing level where accuracy is now relatively possible. Of course, there are still risks, mainly the yet-to-be-known side effects of tampering with one’s DNA. But, it is a field that is definitely worth investing our research and time into for future purposes.

  • CRISPR Therapeutics – is as its name suggests; a company that primarily uses its version of the CRISPR-Cas9 “DNA slicer” in order to develop groundbreaking drug systems. One of the products it has developed with its technology is CTX001, a drug that could eliminate sickle cell and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia (lifelong severe anemic disease) symptoms.
  • Editas Medicine – like CRISPR Therapeutics,Editas Medicine also works on transformative drugs based on current gene-editing techniques. For instance, EDIT-301 is an experimental cell therapy drug that uses the patient’s cells to treat diseases like sickle cell. EDIT-102 is built to treat Usher syndrome type 2A (hearing loss at birth and subsequent vision loss later in life) using more or less the same autologous production method.
  • Intellia Therapeutics – is yet another medical company that produces experimental drugs via gene-edited cells from patients to treat inherited diseases. NTLA-5001, for example, is designed specifically for acute myeloid leukemia, while NTLA-2001 is made to (potentially) treat transthyretin amyloidosis (amyloid buildup in extremities and internal organs causing sensation loss).

Nanotechnology

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Perhaps even more fantastic than gene-editing, nanotechnology offers even more sophisticated medical solutions, perhaps eventually even becoming the key to significantly prolonging human life further. At the moment though, none of the commercial medical companies delving into nanotechnology today are even close to such applications. However, there are research organizations that are actively experimenting with such ideas.

  • Nanoshell Company – this company specializes in the development of nano-scale materials for various drug-based medical applications. For example, its NanoDelivery system is built to create custom-made nano-sized ingredients that are mixed and formulated depending on how it would be used.
  • Abbott Laboratories – is a firmly established multinational medical device and healthcare company that has been in operation since the 19th century. In the last few decades, the Medtech giant has invested considerably in potential nanotechnology applications (research), particularly in the field of nano-scale drug delivery and dosing.

The Hope For Healthcare Tech Companies beyond 2021

Pandemic simulations have been discussed over and conducted extensively over the course of the  decade prior to the year 2020. However, 2020 was when a real-world scenario of such a medical crisis was witnessed. SARS-CoV-2, better known as the COVID-19 disease, rocked the social systems’ very foundations, most especially affecting the established healthcare systems.

Adjustments and reforms are vital to society’s recovery from any pandemic and our preparation for a similar crisis is paramount. That being said, we also believe that ample focus must also be taken in the improvement of related technologies that could have aided a swifter response.

It’s quite breathtaking to see the emergence of disruptive healthcare technology companies within various sectors, what will be more fascinating to observe is how these established companies and healthcare startups will adapt, evolve and grow.

All sources are provided as hyperlinks within the article.

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