IDTechEx has revealed the findings of COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on technology on several reports. In a press release, IDTechEx described its findings of the reports titled: "COVID-19 Diagnostics", "Molecular Diagnostics 2020-2030", "AI in Medical Diagnostics 2020-2030: Image Recognition, Players, Clinical Applications, Forecasts", "Digital Health & Artificial Intelligence 2020: Trends, Opportunities, and Outlook", "Remote Patient Monitoring 2019-2029", "Electronic Skin Patches 2020-2030", "Wearable Sensors 2021-2031", and "Synthetic Biology 2018"
Scientists made efforts to develop diagnostic tests to detect the virus in order to correctly diagnose patients, enact measures such as isolation and quarantine, and manage their treatment accordingly. These early tests worked by recognizing specific sequences in the viral DNA and amplifying them to a level sufficient for detection, says a press release.
With results needed at an unprecedented scale in a limited time, other diagnostic approaches were explored to quickly diagnose COVID-19 patients. The lungs of patients with COVID-19 have certain visual hallmarks such as ground-glass opacities and areas of increased density, both of which can be detected using CT and x-ray imaging. To further speed up this process, companies developing artificial intelligence solutions for the detection of respiratory diseases quickly tailored their software to differentiate COVID-19 from other respiratory infections, decreasing image analysis time to a matter of seconds, a report said.
In order to prepare for the oncoming surge in COVID-19 patients and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between patients in healthcare settings, healthcare systems around the world halted provision of "non-urgent" doctor visits, which extends to everything from cardiac patients to cancer treatments. This, combined with the public's concern and confusion around COVID-19 diagnosis, caused a huge increase in demand for digital health services. Doctors around the world quickly switched to delivering care through digital channels such as video links and apps.
Remote patient monitoring devices were deployed to monitor patient vital signs from a distance, allowing for a significant reduction in close contact between patients and healthcare workers. Solutions for this have been developed over the past 5-10 years and many were far from widespread use, but saw a level of uptake in just a few months that would require several years of work and tens of millions of dollars in investment.
Wearables have also been explored by countries as a means of contact tracing and safe reopening. Of course, maintaining good cardiovascular health remains one of the best ways to mitigate the worst of COVID-19 symptoms, and whilst this is not an acute solution in the short term, there has been a clear movement towards general health and wellness, including the personal electronic devices which help to promote this.
Over 2020, scientists have been working at breakneck speed to develop a safe and effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 and have made significant progress by the end of the year. Several of the leading candidates leverage a new vaccine technology, based on synthetically produced mRNA. This has been a revolutionary technology that has accelerated vaccine development, and the ongoing clinical trials in COVID-19 suggest they will have a large role to play in the future beyond the current pandemic.
2020 has been a historic year for many reasons, but throughout the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, technology solutions have time and again come to the fore as critical parts of the global response. Looking into the future, the progress of these technologies over time will be vital to moving on from the disruption, and in improving the ways in which our societies and systems deal with similar challenges in the future. The team of analysts at IDTechEx is working to characterize and evaluate technology developments today to understand the impact they will have in the future.