New Horizon Scan report offers insights on health technology trends that have the potential to harness large volumes of data, improve clinical workflows, and bring accessible health care closer to home
OTTAWA, March 17, 2022 — Point-of-care testing. Artificial intelligence. Voice technology. Companion diagnostics. According to a newly published report from CADTH, these are some of the must-watch health technologies that are likely to shape the future of health care in Canada over the next 2 years.
CADTH’s 2022 Health Technology Trends to Watch report is an evidence-informed watch list that identifies and assesses emerging health technology trends and their implications.
“Health technologies are a cornerstone of our health systems, and in the wake of COVID-19, decision-makers are rethinking how they prepare for innovation and the uncertainty that comes with rapid advances in health technologies,” said Lesley Dunfield, Vice-President, Medical Devices and Clinical Interventions at CADTH. “CADTH’s annual watch list identifies the emerging trends health system leaders need to know about today, so they can readily adapt tomorrow.”
CADTH produced the report as part of its horizon scanning program, which alerts decision-makers to potentially high-impact health technologies and helps them prepare for future needs or implementation considerations.
The emergence and integration of point-of-care testing has the potential to ease demand on central laboratories and support public health efforts in disease control and surveillance. Many point-of-care tests can be performed in a variety of care settings without specialized training or even at home by patients themselves.
As an example, HIV rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests and self-tests are emerging to help make HIV testing more accessible.
Artificial Intelligence for Diagnostics and Public Health
In the field of public health, artificial intelligence (AI) may help improve disease surveillance, detection, and mitigation by facilitating analyses of large volumes of complex, multi-sourced data from around the world. By using AI to support health data collection, researchers can investigate new methods for assessing the effectiveness of public health interventions and informing targeted health promotion activities and disease incidence forecasts.
Voice technology has many applications, including conversational AI technology (e.g., chatbots) that act as voice assistants for health assessment, diagnostics, and even companionship for patients. This technology can also play a key role in the administrative tasks often handled by health care providers through real-time charting and communicating with other health professionals.
For example, Ada is a mobile health companion app that integrates with home-based virtual assistant devices to assess the user’s health based on their indicated symptoms. The app combines the utility of a voice interface with an AI-based database to monitor personal health data and assist in proactive care.
Companion diagnostic tests assess predictive biomarkers in individuals, such as genetic variation or protein expression, to determine the safe and effective use of an associated therapy. These tests are typically developed for a particular condition to assess specific genetic mutations or biomarkers rather than sequencing the whole genome, which is substantially more costly.
For instance, emerging companion diagnostics that examine circulating tumour DNA (DNA fragments shed by tumours) within the bloodstream provide a less invasive, quicker, and potentially safer alternative to assessing biomarkers compared with traditional tissue biopsies.
The development of CADTH’s 2022 Watch List was broadly guided by the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) process. CADTH developed a PSP working group; synthesized evidence from different sources, including a literature search and national survey results; and used consensus building to identify and rank the final top 10 list. Please consult Appendix 1: Methodology in the published report for complete details about the process.
CADTH would like to thank the health care decision-makers, patients, clinicians, industry representatives, and academics who participated on our working group and in our workshops for generously sharing their time, experience, and insight.
For more information, visit our 2022 Health Technology Trends to Watch website and continue the discussion on social media using #CADTHTrends.
CADTH is an independent, not-for-profit agency funded by Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial governments (except Quebec) to provide credible, impartial advice and evidence-based information about the effectiveness of drugs and other health technologies to Canadian health care decision-makers.
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