People want to become healthier, be healed, lose weight, live longer, and so on: HealthTech, apart from all the hype, is actually always in demand. Although developments in this area often take a long time and are very cost- and research-intensive, when there is a breakthrough it is worth many, many billions (e.g. BioNTech, Novo Nordisk). That’s why there will be a lot of investment in HealthTech in 2024, and AI promises innovations in the field to be faster, better, and cheaper in the future.
Evaluating X-ray images, finding active ingredients, discovering rare diseases, conducting clinical studies, making remote diagnoses, predicting recovery processes, and so on: According to investors, a lot is happening at the interface of health and AI. The healthcare sector is traditionally slow and very expensive, but AI promises to make research more efficient. Just one example: The vaccine manufacturer BioNTech has strengthened itself on the AI front with the acquisition of the AI startup InstaDeep, which was completed in 2023, and this tone is expected to continue in 2024.
Chatbots and copilots
ChatGPT is here to stay. One should not yet assume that companies will rush to incorporate GPT-4 and the like into their health applications. However, one can already imagine that AI models specializing in medical information will serve as a kind of contact person for patients and medical staff. Private individuals could use chatbots as symptom checkers, and doctors, etc. could consult them if they were faced with a tricky question in practice. With Med-PaLM, Google has already developed a large language model specifically for the medical sector – it’s probably only a matter of time before something like this finds wider use.
Longevity – the hunt for immortality
Extend your life by 5, 10, 20 years with pills, ointments, therapies, etc. There are always startups and companies that have put together their products and services under the slogan Longevity. This trend can be observed in the USA, but also increasing in Europe, especially Switzerland. For tech billionaires, longevity is a special playground. For example, Jeff Bezos or the tech investor Yuri Milner have financed one of the best-funded startups in the world – Altos Labs. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is also in the game, with a massive $180 million investment in Retro Biosciences. Since longevity solutions primarily appeal to wealthy people in increasingly older Western societies, the topic is increasingly on the menu for investors – and pharmaceutical companies are also aware of the trend.
Weight loss medications
Ozempic and Wegovy (Novo Nordisk) or Mounjaro and Zepbound (Eli Lilly) – these are the names of new medications that come from the diabetes medication sector, but people (often illegally) abuse them in order to lose weight. They appeal to increasingly overweight populations, and as a result they sell well. The sales and stock market prices of the manufacturers Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly rose sharply in 2023, and many others in the health tech sector also don’t want to miss out on the business. According to MIT Tech Review, there are currently 70 new obesity treatments in development, and six are currently awaiting regulatory approval in the United States.
Converting cancer cells into healthy muscle tissue, restoring sight to the blind, curing sickle cell anemia: the CRISPR gene scissors, developed in Austria more than ten years ago, is both revolutionary and controversial. While it falls under strict genetic laws in the EU, at the end of 2023 the companies Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics managed to get the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first CRISPR/Cas9-based therapy “Casgevy”. But the therapy that can cure life-threatening sickle cell disease is also very expensive – it costs $2.2 million. But as prices fall, CRISPR therapies become more affordable and more companies will enter the field.
ElderTech: New geriatric care
Yes, this word actually exists. It refers to all those companies and developments that care about older people and their well-being. There are also startups in Europe that take care of this target group in very different ways – from sensors for fall detection to matching services for nursing staff. Since many western societies are increasingly aging and, on the other hand, there is often a lack of skilled workers and resources to take adequate care of them, ElderTech is likely to remain a booming area.
Cyber security for health data
Hospitals networked via IoT, digital patient data, health trackers on the body and in the home: Sensitive health data has started to flow, and the hack of the DNA database 23andMe, in which hackers stole family tree data from 6.9 million people, also shows: Security in The health sector is becoming more and more in demand.
“The increasing adoption of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring programs has raised security concerns amid cyberattacks and privacy issues,” said market researcher Gartner. “For these reasons, security is an important consideration for healthcare organizations looking to purchase new software of any kind. Most respondents chose IT security as the most important tool for software investments in 2024.”
Recruitment & training
Nursing shortage, shortage of doctors, hospital collapse: The lack of qualified personnel in the world of health is a major issue. Although there are ways to replace human labor with telemedicine, robots, etc., the health and care sector cannot function without people. That’s why new ways for healthcare institutions to find the necessary specialists and train them are exciting things.
“Looking ahead to the coming year, more than a third of healthcare professionals see employee training and development as the biggest challenge when planning investments in new software,” says market researcher Gartner. “Availability of qualified healthcare workforce is the most important external factor driving business goals for 2024 for 36% of organizations.”
Mental Health Solutions
When we think of health, we usually think of the human body and not immediately of the human mind. However, the omnicrisis is putting more and more people under psychological pressure; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of mental illness are increasing worldwide. According to WHO, depression is one of the most common causes of disability. Suicide is now the fourth most common cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Accordingly, the need for solutions in the mental health sector is increasing, and investments in this area are also increasing.