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Research and Development needed to meet future health challenges

Posted Dec 02 2010 12:32pm

The economic and financial crunch has led to the upheaval of many industries. Medical research has also been affected due to funding pressure increasing more than ever. However, future health challenges can only be met by consistently undertaking research and development in the medical realm, both technical and administrative.

The R&D done by various industry players as well as academic institutes are the two most vital facets of innovation and product development. Private investments and regular federal funding are the key drivers for healthcare research and development.

Industry and academia: where R&D happens

  • Much of the research in biomedical field and drug development is carried out within the advanced research centers of big industry players, college/university laboratories and pharma companies.
  • In the past decade, close to 60% developments in the medical technologies were contributed by small college laboratories and start-ups/SMEs.
  • Another major source of research and development in the medical realm is the in-house innovation centers in the big pharmaceutical players.
  • A US research and development study revealed that in 2008, the medical industry contributed close to 70% of the total research conducted.
  • The role of academic institutes in innovation and product development may be small but the talent is honed in these institutes.

Trends in Medical Research

Since the dawn of the last decade the preferred areas of medical research and development has shifted to newer concepts. Some of the new fields of research have emerged including biomedical realm and neuroscience.

However, the fundamental areas such as cancer research, AIDS research and developments in efficient drugs are still of keen interest. The future trends are dependent on the concept of risk-sharing.

This means that funds for research and development are passed according to the demonstration of an innovation’s efficiency and potential implication in real-life.

IT and Healthcare Research

Information technology sector is making large strides into the future. And it is affecting the R&D in medical realm as well. Most of the latest technologies are not real but online.

The hospital administrative jobs and patient data both are finding solace in the online world. More and more medical equipments and logistics are communicating and sharing information online. Let’s discuss some of these technologies and their impact in shaping the upcoming trends in the healthcare industry.

E-Health

This is the amalgamation of all the medical systems in the online world. It includes creating, managing and sharing the entire information about a patient through different online systems. Here, the patient can interact in real time with doctors and physicians. They can avail online consultation and even get some tests done online. There is also research being carried out to develop community online consultation systems for remote areas. These can cater the rural people in developing nations.

Telepharmacy

This is the next gen of pharmaceutical research. Here, also information technology sector is the key growth engine. Telepharmacy refers to one centralized system of distributing medicines.

All the systems are connected to one central system and patients and doctors can also access the system’s features. Patients located in remote areas can get medicines due to pharmacist’s collaboration.

Also, wrong prescription and written errors due to doctors can also be eliminated. The system also maintains complete record of a patient’s medical history.

Funding and Research Management

  • Research is largely driven by private players first. Governments are usually known to step in a little later.
  • Early investments are being made in relatively smaller companies working on a highly specific project aimed at a much concentrated realm.
  • Also, this lays the foundation of a much more focused research environment.
  • Early collaboration also lowers the monetary investments to be made by large companies and increases the profit potential.
  • Besides professional research, the universities and colleges also undertake research.
  • However, in this case, the major funding source is the federal grants.
  • Private players are hesitant to invest in funding in university research due to the fear of having to lose the intellectual property rights.
  • So, another challenge in the future medical research is to explore innovative models so as to protect interests of private players in the academic research.
  • This can be achieved with fruitful and strategic collaborations among the industry players and universities.

Future research and development will progress in multiple directions. It is vital to develop systems to integrate this multi-directional approach. Also, timely implementation of the developed systems to ensure real world development is also necessary. Research and development have to be carried out keeping in mind the emerging standards of healthcare.

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