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A Heart Away From Your Heart: Use of Digital Twin Technology in Healthcare

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Apr 7, 2020 8:24 PM 2 min read

Digital Twin Technology is a concept that has been around since 2002, but gained momentum and popularity upon the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), which helped it become cost-effective to implement. Over the years, it has become an integral part of businesses, so much so that it was named one of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017. In this article, we discuss what the digital twin technology, the current application of digital twins and their application in health care sector. 


What is the Digital Twin Technology

As per IBM, digital twin is “the virtual representation of a physical object or system across its life-cycle. It uses real-time data and other sources to enable learning, reasoning, and dynamically recalibrating for improved decision making.”


This pairing of the virtual and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities and even plan for the future by using simulations.


Digital twins help engineers understand not only how products are performing, but how they will perform in the future.


What Are Digital Twins Used For?

Some institutions and companies using digital twins include NASA and Chevron. 


Digital twins are used at NASA to explore next-generation vehicles and aircraft. Chevron expects to save millions of dollars in maintenance costs from the digital twin technology they will have deployed on equipment by 2024 in oil fields and refineries.


Aircrafts too make use of the digital twin technology, which are constantly updated with information from sensors that measure the engine’s performance and check for signs of wear and tear.


Digital Twin in Healthcare

Similar benefits can be reaped in the healthcare sector. 


A group of researchers are now working to create Digital Twins of the human heart. Virtual hearts could be used by doctors to help with their diagnoses and to determine what treatments might be necessary. A twin could then keep track of how a patient responded to those treatments. It will also allow simulation of the treatment of a particular individual for many other conditions.


How Would This Work?

The process would first require a person to don a variety of sensors, the data from which would then be turned by specialised software into a computer simulation of the pumping organ. This simulation would show detailed information about how the heart is working, and the way blood is flowing within it. 


A heart away from your heart? 


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