Is Digital Twin Promising A New Era for Healthcare?

Over the next three years, 66% of healthcare executives are planning to increase their investment in digital twin, states a recent digital health technology report. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital twin technology has been playing a key role in aiding healthcare professionals. Digital twin is used to optimize the usage of ventilators for critical patients, support contactless temperature scanning, reduce person-to-person contact, trial drugs, and prevent the risk of disease transmission. In the post-COVID-19 era too, medical researchers can leverage digital twins to analyze the existing data and study the impact caused on the human body.
In this blog, we’ll take you through what is digital twin technology and how it’s creating an impact in the healthcare industry? Let’s checkout!

The Role of Digital Twin in Healthcare

Digital twin technology allows you to replicate the physical world in a digital layout. A digital twin is a virtual model of a device, object, or process that operates in real-time to update data when changes are made. Researchers rely on digital twins to test new scenarios in real-life environments with improved safety and cost-effectiveness. In the past, the application of digital twins was limited to sectors such as industrial engineering and manufacturing. It was economically unviable to build digital twins in other fields like healthcare and education. The proliferation and affordability of innovative technologies such as IoT, AI, ML, AR, VR, and XR are accelerating the adoption of digital twins in healthcare.
Read more: The Application and Impact of Information Technology in Healthcare 
The healthcare industry is constantly striving to enhance patient outcomes, reduce operating costs, and address unforeseen medical crises effectively. The US-based Digital Twin Consortium observes that digital twin technology has the potential to improve patient turnaround, reduce patient wait times, optimize equipment utilization, cut staffing expenses, and minimize bed shortages. It helps personalize medicines based on real-time data and improve the operational efficiency and performance of healthcare organizations by identifying workflow bottlenecks and scheduling optimization.

Top 5 Applications of Digital Twin in Healthcare

Digital twins allow the creation of handy virtual models and medical simulations based on the data gathered from wearable devices, patient records, drugs and pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, and other healthcare departments. This helps streamline the overall clinical and caregiving processes. Listed here are the top five applications of medical digital twins:

1. Customize treatments and drug administration

Digital twins allow physicians, hospitals, and clinics to deliver patient-centric care by leveraging precision medicine. Data stored in healthcare mobile apps, medical software, wearables, fitness trackers, and other medical devices can be captured into digital twins which enables doctors and front-line health workers to address patients with persistent or critical conditions. For example, combining AI-powered anatomical analysis with the virtual model of a patient’s heart helps understand the progression of heart diseases over time. It enables medical researchers to identify how the patient will respond to new drugs, treatments, or surgical intercessions. Digital twin experiments are also conducted to analyze the progression of neurogenerative ailments such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

2. Advance surgical procedure planning

Digital twin technology enables brain and heart surgeons to run virtual simulations of surgical procedures prior to executing complex surgeries. Testing pre-operative and post-operative surgical procedures and outcomes on a digital replica of human body parts reduces the risk of hampering human health. Advanced, patient-specific computational models of human organs help plan and augment complex surgical interventions with improved precision and care.
Read more: How Virtual Reality Benefits Autistic Patients
Virtual Reality

3. Enhance caregivers’ efficiency and experience

Digital twins support caregivers to gain a consolidated view of patient data scattered across various medical applications, physicians, and specialists. Technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) help infer the data and summarize the medical history of each patient. Capturing patient-specific information onto your medical dashboard throws better light into the context of each patient. This improves your clinical decision-making ability.
Digital twin model of a hospital allows you to measure the impact of organizational changes. For instance, you can use the virtual model to test new operational strategies, care delivery programs, staffing rotation, appointment scheduling, hospital bed facilities, surgical schedules, and so on. This helps redesign your organization’s workflow, improve coordination among various departments, and reduce the treatment window.
Case Study: How Fingent’s healthcare technology solution helped improve collaboration between doctors, patients, and caregivers

4. Test new medical devices and drugs

Federal drug regulators such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency as well as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) propose using AI algorithms to determine the safety and effectiveness of pilot drugs. Digital twins can simulate the health traits of a larger number of patients which helps analyze how a drug’s usage will impact a wider population. Using several inclusion and exclusion paradigms, AI helps pace up drug trials by identifying the willingness and availability of patients. Digital twins can also mitigate the harmful impact of experimental drugs and reduce the number of patients who need to undergo real-world testing.
It takes more than $2 billion to manufacture and launch a new drug into the market. Trial phase alone costs heavily and over 90% of treatments fail during this period. Capitalizing on technologies like machine learning and computational modeling helps expedite the early stages of drug design, development, and safety evaluation. Digital twins integrate the test data across various samples to give a holistic picture of the drug’s effect on patients.

5. Improve supply chain flexibility

The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic weakened our supply chains due to the lockdowns and transportation bans across various countries. This resulted in the shortage of essential healthcare supplies. Digital twins allow healthcare organizations to create robust contingency plans to address such unpredicted events, increase bed capacity, manage emergencies during shutdowns or shortages, offer remote patient care, and design and construct new medical facilities to reach out to more patients. Hospitals, labs, and healthcare establishments can remodel their supply chain relationships to create alternative plans, improve collaboration with suppliers, and team up with authorities to plan and negotiate.
Read more: Why is it better to outsource custom healthcare software development
Custom healthcare software development

Make The Most of Digital Twins with Fingent

Healthcare application development experts at Fingent help you overcome the hurdles that defer digital twin adoption such as data gathering, quality of clinical trial datasets, and information security and privacy. We develop custom healthcare apps leveraging technologies such as VR, AI, ML, and IoT that enable you to virtually test innovations and deliver exceptional patient care. These solutions can be tailored to optimize both your clinical and operational functions. For instance, we help you develop virtual simulators for ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support System), accident trauma care standard operating procedure, an orthopedic or cardiac surgical procedure involving complex tools, and Neo-natal Resuscitation Simulator (GOLDEN MINUTE PROTOCOL).
Read more: How Virtual Reality Improves the Standards of Medical Education and Training 
Besides VR, healthcare providers can benefit from various customizable solutions such as connected healthcare apps powered by IoT, integrated medical dashboard software, remote patient monitoring systems, and healthcare analytics applications. Improve your organization’s technology ecosystem with Fingent top software development company. Contact us to design digital twins and drive innovation.

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    About the Author

    Vinod Saratchandran

    Vinod has conceptualized and delivered niche mobility products that cater to various domains including logistics, media & non-profits. He leads, mentors & coaches a team of Project Coordinators & Analysts at Fingent.

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