Digital Twins and its impact on healthcare

The future of healthcare lies in working hand-in-hand with technology and healthcare workers have to embrace emerging healthcare technologies in order to stay relevant in the coming years. So, our task is to turn to technologies with an open mind and to prepare for the changing world with as much knowledge as possible. Technology can only aid and improve our lives if we stand on its shoulder and if we are always (at least) two steps ahead of it. According to McKinsey, “The use of emerging technologies to enhance health or care delivery is known as digital health. They were able to categorise digital health innovations into nine “value pools” across five key categories thanks to their vast expertise in business development and healthcare: R&D, health and disease prevention, screening and diagnosis, treatment delivery, and finance and operations are only a few of the areas where you can get involved. As we look at emerging technologies, there is one area that has an immediate and long-standing impact on healthcare. One of those concepts is Digital Twins.

Digital Twins and Healthcare

What is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is the creation or collection of digital data that represents a physical object. Engineering and the creation of engineering drawings and graphics can be traced back to the beginnings of the digital twin concept. The development of Digital Twins is the result of ongoing product design and engineering improvements. From hand drafting to computer-aided drafting/computer-aided design (CAD) to model-based systems engineering, product drawings and engineering specifications have progressed (MBSE).

How does the concept work?

The industry is being transformed by digital twins, which are exact virtual replicas of machines or systems. These sophisticated computer models, which are driven by real-time data gathered from sensors, mirror almost every aspect of a product, process, or service. Digital twins are already being used by a number of major corporations to identify problems and improve productivity.

There is still a lot of work to be done in order to fully understand the potential of digital twins. There are no common practices, standards, or norms, so each model is created from the ground up. Data from thousands of sensors that track vibration, temperature, force, speed, and power, for example, can be difficult to aggregate. Furthermore, data can be dispersed among many owners and stored in a variety of formats.

Digital twins are being redefined as digital replications of living and non-living entities that allow data to be seamlessly transmitted between the physical and virtual worlds. They were originally designed to enhance manufacturing processes. Digital twins make it easier to track, understand, and optimise the functions of all physical entities, and they give humans constant feedback to improve their quality of life and well-being.

The ‘digital twin,’ which was coined almost 20 years ago but only recently gained widespread popularity as digital infrastructure becomes increasingly embedded in our industries, cities, and communities, is the latest term to be added to this collection of metaphors.

Individual physical objects are paired with digital models that dynamically represent the status of those artifacts, and this is what Digital Twins stand for. Digital Twins are an emerging technology that is based on in silico representations of an individual that dynamically reflect molecular status, physiological status, and lifestyle over time when applied to people.

“We use Digital Twins to test the theory that one might have access to extremely detailed bio-physical and lifestyle data on a person over time. This viewpoint redefines the concept of ‘normalcy’ or ‘health’ as a set of patterns that are consistent for a specific individual against the backdrop of population patterns.”

Dr Vikram Venkateswaran

The growing availability of molecular readout technologies and adequate computational power allow for the creation of such personalised models, which can be supplemented with continuously monitored health and lifestyle parameters. This would ultimately lead to the creation of a digital representation of an individual patient, referred to as a “virtual patient” or even an “in-silico-self.”

Digital Twin approaches in health care have the potential to vastly increase the resolution and the comprehensiveness at which one can define normality and disease. The ‘virtual self’ models will provide a detailed map that allows to better pinpoint deviations from the normal. 

Read more about this in the new paper on Digital Twins and how it impacts healthcare.

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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