Healthcare and Technology – The Great Convergence

Healthcare and Technology – The Great Convergence

The annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference has become one of the preeminent healthcare investment gatherings in the industry. It brings together members of the investment community with industry leaders from hundreds of companies, ranging from emerging fast-growth companies and innovative technology creators, to large and established for-profit and not-for-profit entities.


Over the past several years, many parts of the healthcare sector have had to navigate particularly choppy waters — contending with dynamics such as supply shortages, staffing pressures and capital constraints, among what has been a highly stretched global healthcare system overall. Following the conclusion of this year’s conference, numerous corporations are of the view that some of these pressures are beginning to stabilize, or are indeed alleviating. However, what remains truly evident from this event is the continued intertwining of healthcare and technology — this persists in force and the consequent impacts are becoming greater, deeper and more far reaching than ever before.


The medical devices industry is accustomed to leveraging the benefits of technology to advance clinical outcomes. Among the industry disruptors innovation continues at pace, with several companies in the early phases of launching new devices and/or entering new product cycles that materially improve patient outcomes or reduce costs to the healthcare system. Insulet recently launched the Omnipod 5 — the first tubeless Automated Insulin Delivery (AID) system. The company has pioneered the tubeless ‘patch pump’, providing a vastly superior form-factor, transformative patient lifestyle benefits and improved clinical outcomes when compared to traditional insulin delivery methods. Insulet’s latest innovation marks another significant step forward in the treatment of Type I diabetes. The Omnipod 5 integrates with the Dexcom G6 Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System to now automatically adjust insulin delivery to maximise time within optimal glucose level range. Every five minutes, the Omnipod receives a CGM value and trend, and predicts where glucose levels will be 60 minutes into the future. The system then increases, decreases, or pauses insulin delivery based on the user’s desired target range, with this all being controlled/monitored from a compatible smartphone. No multiple daily injections. No finger sticks. The notion of an ‘artificial pancreas’ may no longer be confined to the realms of science fiction.


Penumbra, another medical devices company, also recently launched the Lightning Flash. The company has focused for years on innovation to produce devices that remove high risk/life-threating clots in a much more effective, faster and minimally invasive manner than current interventional or surgical methods. The Lightning Flash features an enhanced catheter and uses both pressure and flow-based algorithms to help remove blood clots quickly while minimizing potential blood loss. This is the first computer-aided mechanical thrombectomy system in the US and early data have shown improvement in both clinical outcomes and patient quality of life. Penumbra’s Lighting Bolt and Thunderbolt systems, which leverage similar computer-orchestrated technology in arterial and neuro clot removal applications are also due to be launched in the coming year. These sets of devices may fundamentally change how clots are removed from the body and should help to broaden the uptake of mechanical thrombectomy amongst clinicians.


Other areas of the healthcare industry have only recently begun to leverage the benefits of technology. Conventional clinical trials are typically run from fixed physical site locations, which can sometimes create frictions for patient participation and data collection. ICON, a leading Clinical Research Organisation that provides consulting, outsourced development and commercialisation services, is now deploying decentralised and hybrid clinical trials (DCTs). By utilising digital tools and wearable devices & sensors, DCTs reduce patient burden through site visit/remote flexibility and widens patient access, increasing the levels of diversity and inclusion in clinical trials. It can also provide more timely data insights, reduced data variability and centralised monitoring. ICON’s CEO recently commented that now “…almost every trial has a component of decentralisation in it, be it a wearable, be it an electronic consent, be it our home health”. Although still at a nascent stage of adoption, fully decentralised trials could become far more frequent in future.


The convergence of healthcare and technology is perhaps best epitomised by NVIDIA, leaders in AI and accelerated compute, which presented at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. NVIDIA’s healthcare platform began by powering medical devices (e.g. CT scanners, robotic surgical systems, genomic sequencing instruments) but has since broadened into simulation/genomic analysis. Indeed, the business mix of medical devices and AI simulation has shifted from 80%/20% to 50%/50% today. AI spending within healthcare is growing at a rapid pace, given the exponential growth in data and the increasing computational demand for AI. NVIDIA believes that an inflection point will be reached this year as the cost of genomic analysis declines drastically, helping to unlock the tremendous amounts of streaming data that needs to be analysed (potentially exceeding 40 exabytes in the next decade) and enabling an acceleration of drug discovery and much more beyond this. AI was used for the first time to identify an existing drug for retargeting at a new problem in 2020. By 2025, Gartner believes that more than 30% of new drugs and materials will be systematically discovered using generative AI techniques.


The advancement of healthcare is increasingly being driven by technological innovation. This convergence is generating solutions that are significantly improving patient outcomes and quality of life, whilst often helping to reduce healthcare system costs. The healthcare industry is being reshaped by technology in a transformative way and the positive social impact that should result may be truly revolutionary.

Important Disclosures

More about the authors

Adam Hussain Investment Manager

Adam Hussain, investment manager, is a member of the global equities team and is responsible for supporting our global sustainable equity strategies.

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