• Lloyd Price

Digital Health Hype Cycle 2021


For the fifth year in a row since 2017, I would like to share my thoughts on what I see as the cutting edge, emerging, developing and mature technologies from around the digital health world visualised in a "Digital Health Hype Cycle 2021 infographic. (My image is in no way affiliated with Gartner, their model is purely for illustration)

Innovation / Technology Trigger


Ambient Computing - concept that covers applications that incorporate things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive processing. Ambient computing creates an environment in the digital world where companies can integrate technology seamlessly into everything that we do, enhancing usefulness and reducing the demand for human attention.


Consent Management - a consent management platform is a piece of software that enables a website or app to comply with GDPR, CCPA and other data privacy regulations. CMPs allow websites to inform visitors about the types of data they want to collect and ask users for consent for specific processing purposes


Google’s Project Wolverine - the X division of Google's (technical) parent company Alphabet has shared details of "Project Wolverine", a device that lets the user isolate audio to focus on a specific person or source. The device has other capabilities beyond speech isolation, and the X team is actively working on expanding its utility as part of their focus to "explore the future of hearing


BioElectronic Devices - Bioelectronics is used to help improve the lives of people with disabilities and diseases. For example, the glucose monitor is a portable device that allows diabetic patients to control and measure their blood sugar levels.


Cardiac BioSignals - Biological signals, or biosignals, are space, time, or space–time records of a biological event such as a beating heart or a contracting muscle. The electrical, chemical, and mechanical activity that occurs during these biological event often produces signals that can be measured and analysed.


Computer Vision - an interdisciplinary scientific field that deals with how computers can gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos. From the perspective of engineering, it seeks to understand and automate tasks that the human visual system can do.


DX/Tools - Dx/Tools companies are redefining innovation and investment trends by increasingly integrating tech advancements such as next-generation sequencing (NGS) and artificial intelligence (AI) into their technologies. Sensing enormous opportunities in healthcare, tech giants, with enormous cash reserves and computational resources, are stepping up their activity in this space.


Smart Speakers - Consumer electronics manufacturers have made a significant push in recent years to make their devices more useful for various health-related issues. One good example is Apple, with its Apple Watch wearables able to record ECGs and other health data. Researchers from the University of Washington have now conducted research that shows smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home can monitor some healthcare issues from home.


Micro Robots - Medical microrobots are distinguished from other robotic systems in that they must function in the human body. As such, they exhibit special characteristics of size, function, and material choice. Recent advances have focused on fabrication techniques, locomotion at microscale environment, and targeted drug delivery.


Peak of Exaggerated Expectations


Virtual Care - Simply put, the term virtual care is a way of talking about all the ways patients and doctors can use digital tools to communicate in real-time. While telemedicine refers to long-distance patient care, virtual care is a much broader term that refers to a variety of digital healthcare services


SleepTech - also called Polysomnographic Technology is the widespread use applications and devices that purport to measure and even improve sleep.


Augmented Reality - used in healthcare facilities across the world today, for applications that include vein visualisation, surgical visualisation and education. Recent hardware and software advances have reduced the cost of augmented reality while significantly improving the experience for users and developers


Remote Patient MonitoringRPM is a method of healthcare delivery that uses the latest advances in information technology to gather patient data outside of traditional healthcare settings.


Triage Chatbots - software developed with machine learning algorithms, including natural language processing (NLP), to stimulate and engage in a conversation with a user to provide real-time assistance to patients.



Trough of Disillusionment


AI Powered Predictive Healthcare – artificial intelligence-powered predictive healthcare networks will help reduce wait times for patients and improve staff workflows. In the case of areas such as surgery and diagnosis, surgeons will trust AI more to augment their skills for surgery as well as diagnosis. AI will help doctors and clinicians learn from every patient, every diagnosis, and every procedure. This will improve health outcomes, reduce clinician shortages and also, allow the system to be financially sustainable.


Interoperability – Interoperability means the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities


Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT has applications in healthcare that benefit patients, families, physicians, hospitals and insurance companies. IoT applications can track patients' adherence to treatment plans or any need for immediate medical attention.


Deep Learning in Medical Imaging - In recent years, deep learning technology has been used for analysing medical images in various fields, and it shows excellent performance in various applications such as segmentation and registration. The classical method of image segmentation is based on edge detection filters and several mathematical algorithms.


Path of Enlightenment


Robotic Process Automation – RPA is a digital worker, which has received the CE mark for medical devices. It automates computer-based knowledge work processes, carrying out the same computer tasks that a human would, but undertaken by a software robot instead.


Digital Twin – Healthcare is rapidly embracing digital twin technology. The goal of this trend is to deliver data-driven personalized medicine. Digital twins are built on computer-based, or in silico, models that are fed individual and population data.


Longevity and Age Tech - companies and researchers focused on longevity are looking at bodily processes at the cellular level to see how aging progresses and trying to find the right drugs, treatments, and vitamins that might slow these processes down.


FemTech - term applied to a category of software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology often to focus on women's health. This sector includes fertility solutions, period-tracking app, pregnancy and nursing care, women's sexual wellness, and reproductive system health care.


Swallowable Tech – typically ingestible sensors housed in pills designed to help patients adhere to the medications their doctors prescribe. Sensor are not powered by a battery, they are powered by the gut of the patient swallowing it, using technology discovered two centuries ago.


Plateau of Productivity


Conversational AI – Conversational AI refers to the use of messaging apps, speech-based assistants and chatbots to automate communication and create personalised customer experiences at scale.


BioHacking – Biohacking is a fairly new practice that could lead to major changes in our life. You could it call citizen or do-it-your-self biology. It takes place in small labs, mostly non-university — where all sorts of people get together to explore biology


IBM Watson Health – IBM Watson Health solutions are designed to augment human expertise and improve clinical and operational workflows. IBM Watson Health's deep industry expertise, data and analytics, and actionable insights are underpinned by security and trust.


Blockchain in Healthcare - Blockchain technology applications in healthcare shows promise for solving issues such as its used in EHR distribution of data and nationwide interoperability. However, more research, trials and experiments must be carried out to ensure a secure and established system is implanted before using blockchain technology on a large scale in healthcare.

What is a Hype Cycle?

A hype cycle is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by the American research, advisory and information technology firm Gartner, for representing the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. The hype cycle provides a graphical and conceptual presentation of the maturity of emerging technologies through five phases.

How do Hype Cycle's work?

Each Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology's life cycle.

Innovation Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.

Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.

Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology's broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.

Using Gartner’s hype cycle model I have created a digital health infographic to share where I believe various technologies are on the adoption curve.

(My image is in no way affiliated with Gartner, their model is purely for illustration)


Previous Digital Health Hype Cycles can be found by clicking on the links below ..

2017 - https://www.healthcare.digital/single-post/2017/09/17/The-Digital-Health-Hype-Cycle-2017


2018 - https://www.healthcare.digital/single-post/2018/02/20/The-Digital-Health-Hype-Cycle-2018

2019 - https://www.healthcare.digital/single-post/2019/01/12/The-Digital-Health-Hype-Cycle-2019

2020 - https://www.healthcare.digital/single-post/2020/01/29/Digital-Health-Hype-Cycle-2020


2021 - https://www.healthcare.digital/single-post/digital-health-hype-cycle-2021


If you would like to discuss any references in this blog post please email lloyd@healthcare.digital

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