HealthTech and MedTech are often interchanged with some assuming that they mean the same thing. However, there are significant differences between the two that require exploration of these distinctions. As the name implies, they both use technology to improve access to and delivery of health services.
What is HealthTech?
HealthTech is what is also known as digital health, which uses technology to enhance the delivery of health services and provide better care for patients. The HealthTech industry encompasses a broad range of innovative technologies, such as electronic health records, telemedicine, wearable fitness trackers, and health apps. The primary goal of HealthTech is to utilise healthcare technology to improve access and efficiency of health services, as well as to improve patient outcomes.
MedTech is different from HealthTech since it uses medical technology. The MedTech industry is focused on the production of medical devices, such as surgical equipment and diagnostic tools. It is about the development of tools that assist in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of various diseases and long-term conditions. Most of these technological tools require the knowledge of medical professionals to operate and use.
What’s The Difference Between Healthtech & MedTech?
The above definition should give you an idea of the distinction between HealthTech and MedTech and their applications in the healthcare industry. As health technology continues to evolve, one can expect that there will be more tools available to patients, healthcare providers, and medical professionals to use for personal and preventative care, along with disease treatment.
The HealthTech sector is directly involved with the consumption of care. Therefore, you will notice that HealthTech tools are the ones that enable patients to achieve personal and preventive care and personal monitoring tools. It is also linked with health prevention and patient outcomes.
Therefore, HealthTech is a type of healthcare technology that exists in the realm of wearables, mobile devices, and applications that patients use. For example, wearable devices are a form of health technology that can monitor a patient’s blood sugar level, blood pressure, heart rate, steps, and other vital signs. The wearable device sends the collected patient data to the phone or any device that the app is connected to for storage and tracking. The app uses data analytics to assess the user’s health habits and make recommendations on lifestyle or health changes.
Using the above example, HealthTech companies in the HealthTech community play a key role in empowering patients. It uses the established health knowledge and skills to develop tools that would improve access to quality care and promote healthier lives.
The HealthTech sector is focused on the prevention and management of disease, while MedTech provides treatment support through diagnosis, patient care, and treatment tools. Many of the existing MedTech tools are developed by industry experts and researchers through years of research and clinical trials. Therefore, MedTech offers precision medicine and treatment that are physician-approved.
MedTech covers various categories of tools used by medical professionals, such as software, equipment, tools, and devices. These products undergo stricter regulation standards than HealthTech tools because MedTech can have a severe impact on patient health. Since there is a constant flow of information with regards to the use of MedTech tools in collecting and using patient details, they are subjected to the HIPAA compliance law and other regulatory bodies in the UK HealthTech and MedTech industries. These regulations are designed to protect the privacy of the patients’ medical history and information.
To demonstrate the difference between HealthTech and MedTech in the healthcare sector, you can explore some examples and their applications below.
- Wearable fitness trackers
- Electronic health records (EHR)
- Mobile health apps
- Remote patient monitoring systems
- Medical imaging software
- Robotic surgery systems
- Clinical decision support systems
- Electronic prescribing systems
- Population health management platforms
Wearable fitness trackers
Wearable fitness trackers are one of the best examples of the application of digital health technologies for health monitoring and patient accountability. Wearable devices are typically small, such as a watch or a device worn on the wrist. The tracker records vital health data, such as the number of steps taken daily, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level, and calories burned, among other things. This HealthTech tool enables people to set and track their fitness goals, whether it is part of managing long-term conditions (like heart disease or diabetes) or preventing these health conditions.
Electronic health records (EHR)
When you walk into a hospital or health clinic for the first time, you will be asked to fill out a form with your personal and health information. This serves as your medical chart that your attending physician will refer to whenever you go in for a consultation, so they can keep track of your health issues, medications, and other vital information that will assess your health status. The recent advancements in the HealthTech sector have made it possible for a hospital and clinic to use electronic health records (EHRs) to eliminate the hassle of dealing with physical charts to keep track of a patient’s condition, especially for future visits.
All of the essential patient health data are stored and easily accessible via the EHR, such as medications, allergies, lab test results, etc. The access to crucial patient data using health technology can improve patient outcomes with more accurate and efficient services.
Like wearable fitness trackers, mobile health apps are available for patients to use and monitor their health conditions on their own. It is designed for health monitoring and management, especially for individuals who want to switch to a healthy lifestyle or manage long-term conditions.
Remote patient monitoring systems
Remote patient monitoring became the norm during the pandemic and it will continue to be a part of the hospital and clinical care settings post-pandemic era. This technology solution enables healthcare professionals to monitor patient health remotely. Using the collected data, healthcare professionals can make timely treatment decisions to improve patient outcomes, especially with chronic diseases.
This healthcare technology proves helpful for patients who have difficulty visiting the hospital or clinic.
Telemedicine is one example of a digital health solution that relies on telecommunication technology to deliver patient services in the HealthTech industry. It allows patients to consult with a doctor remotely and in real time. This is especially beneficial in underserved areas; you can rely on technology to be able to access the services of a health professional.
Medical imaging software
This software tool uses artificial intelligence to analyse and interpret the results of medical imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. This type of digital health technology can improve the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment recommendations to increase the effectiveness of a given treatment.
Robotic surgery systems
This type of HealthTech solution uses robotic technology to assist in surgical procedures. The surgeon controls the robot via a console. This technology is known to improve the accuracy and precision when performing certain surgeries.
This computer-based system delivers support for health professionals when making vital decisions affecting patient care and treatment support. It uses data analysis and algorithms for the analysis of treatment options and aid doctors in making clinical decisions.
Electronic prescribing systems
This HealthTech tool provides doctors with support in managing prescriptions. The prescription is electronically sent to pharmacies to eliminate errors in handing out medications resulting from misread prescriptions or dosage administration.
Population health management platforms
It is a HealthTech platform that collects and analyses health data of a given population sample. It assists HealthTech companies and social care providers in addressing and managing health issues that affect a large sample of the population, such as infectious diseases, drug discovery, and other public health programs.
Challenges HealthTech Companies Face
HealthTech companies play a key role in the advancement of the HealthTech industry. However, they face several challenges in the development of new HealthTech solutions in the market:
- Maintaining a unified vision in the industry
- Appropriating funds to ensure it pushes the industry forward
- Overcoming duplication and pursuing innovation
- Policy-makers must keep up with the pace of digital health solutions
- Hiring top HealthTech talent and researchers
- Heart rate monitors
- Surgical instruments
- Diabetes management devices
- Medical imaging equipment (e.g. CT scanners, MRI machines)
- Lab-on-a-chip diagnostic devices
- Surgical instrument
- Artificial pacemakers
- Point-of-care testing equipment (e.g. for rapid HIV testing)
Heart rate monitors
This MedTech device is one of the best uses of health technology to support patients in managing their health conditions. It can be a standalone device, such as a watch that functions as a heart rate monitor, or it can be linked to a smartphone app where the data is recorded and analysed. The information collected by the heart rate monitor is used by health professionals to assess a patient’s heart health, such as those dealing with heart disease.
This MedTech tool is recommended for patients diagnosed with diabetes. It includes a wide range of devices, such as a blood glucose monitor, to keep track of blood glucose levels and regulate it to a healthy level. The purpose of the device is to avoid complications that might arise from the condition.
Medical imaging equipment (e.g. CT scanners, MRI machines)
The technological device can capture images inside your body using a variety of medical technologies. For example, X-ray machines use radiation to capture images of bones and dense tissues. CT scanners use multiple detailed X-ray images to form a complete 3D scan of the body. MRI devices use magnetic fields and radio waves to capture images of soft tissues, muscles and organs.
The above medical imaging equipment is used in a hospital setting to monitor and diagnose various health conditions.
Lab-on-a-chip diagnostic devices
This is a small and portable device that performs diagnostic testing in a lab. It is recommended for diagnosing various medical conditions like infectious diseases and genetic disorders.
These are tools employed by surgeons to assist in performing certain surgeries, such as removing tissue samples, making incisions and replacing or removing damaged organs. These devices employ medical technology to ensure that the correct material and design are used to avoid infections and other complications resulting from the surgical procedure.
This medical device is implanted in the patient’s chest to regulate the heart rate. It uses electrical impulses that stimulate heart rate and maintain a healthy function. It is recommended for patients with heart disease, such as atrial fibrillation.
Point-of-care testing equipment (e.g. for rapid HIV testing)
This is a group of medical devices that assist in diagnostic procedures at the time of point-of-care. The equipment is used in a hospital or a doctor’s clinic. They are designed to be small and portable for ease of use when diagnosing medical conditions. Some examples of the applications of this MedTech device include HCG testing in pregnant women, diagnosing HIV, and monitoring glucose levels for diabetes management.
- Managing the privacy and security of patient health data and ensuring compliance.
- Delivering personalised medical solutions to improve the efficacy of treatment solutions.
- Development of early screening and detection tools rather than focusing solely on treatment.
- Maintaining precision in the diagnosis results and surgical procedures.
- Standardisation of new technology to ensure patient safety
Conclusion – Why is Health Technology Important?
Taking care of their physical and mental health is something that many individuals pay more attention to nowadays than they did a few decades back. Thankfully, digital health technology constantly brings technological innovation to the healthcare industry to improve private and public health systems.
HealthTech and MedTech solutions are some examples of how technology offers a significant opportunity to improve the quality of health support and care for patients, especially those dealing with long-term conditions. As more investors pour their funds into research studies and innovation projects, it will continue to push the industry forward in its aim to provide adequate healthcare solutions that are more personalised (instead of using the traditional one-size-fits-all model in healthcare) and condense the time between diagnosis and treatment of patients.
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