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Capital Acumen Issue 32

Technology Gives Healthcare An Adrenaline Shot

With technology generating futuristic advances, look for investment opportunities within healthcare — and beyond.

Collage of people and medical devices

Illustrations by Stuart Bradford.

The silicon chip and the stethoscope have long gone hand in hand. Indeed, Moore’s Law, a widely used forecast of rising computing power, can often seem to be nudging healthcare into the realm of science fiction, with life-saving high-tech innovations coming at a rapid rate today — and plenty more in the pipeline. That could be good news for investors, and not only those with a medical focus.

A list of statistics related to the healthcare industry

“The potential for growth extends beyond the traditional healthcare sector,” says Beijia Ma, head of thematic research at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.** With the provision that rising chip speed can render a promising technology obsolete all too quickly (DVD, say hello to cloud streaming), here are the top five innovations Ma and fellow “futurologist” Joseph Quinlan, head of market & thematic strategy at U.S. Trust, think may offer investment opportunities in the years ahead.

Getting to know your DNA
Illustration of a robot and a heart
Illustration of a walker, prosthetic, robot arm and medicine
Illustration of an ear scope and a phone
Illustration of doctor wearing augmented reality goggles

Also Showing Strong Vital Signs

Beyond these top five, Quinlan and Ma see potential in an array of other healthcare-related technologies currently in development. Here are a few: 

  • Contact lenses that measure glucose levels in diabetics 
  • Spoons with accelerometers that adjust for the shaking common in patients with Parkinson’s 
  • Nano pills that travel through the body and identify cancer cells or signs of an imminent heart attack 
  • Multifunctional radiology that scans the body and detects a range of medical problems all at once — not unlike the “tricorder” used in the Star Trek franchise
  • Smartphone apps that collect a range of health data and send it to healthcare providers 
  • 3D-printed replacement body parts such as organs, bones, tendons and more

Other Drivers in Healthcare

Beyond the potential of technology to create investment opportunities in healthcare, there are other prospective drivers, says Joseph P. Quinlan, head of market and thematic strategy at U.S. Trust. “One of the major factors our A Transforming World approach has identified is the aging of America,” he says. “The share of people living to 100 and over rose more than 40 percent between 2000 and 2014. Another is the spread to emerging markets of so-called Western diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The diabetes rate in China, for instance, doubled between 2001 and 2013, with nearly 12 percent of adults now afflicted. By some measures that’s even greater than the U.S. rate.” 6,7

To learn more about med-tech, or about how healthcare-related investments may fit into your portfolio strategy, contact your U.S. Trust advisor.

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