Digital Twins in Healthcare: an Assessment of Technological and Practical Prospects

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Abstract

Background. The technological direction digital Twins is included in the list of the main strategic technological trends of 2019–2021. At the end of 2021, an initiative was announced in the Russian Federation aimed at creating a digital twin in the domestic healthcare system as part of the primary care modernization project. Aims — the purpose of the study is to review possible ways of using digital twins technology in the global healthcare system and in its Russian segment, as well as to build patent and publication landscapes to identify technological and academic leaders of the frontier. Methods. Scientometric and patent analysis. Results. The key stages of the development of the frontier “digital twins in healthcare” are traced. According to the data of the scientometric and patent analyses carried out in the priority direction “digital twins in healthcare and medicine”, the Russian Federation at the end of 2021 ranks 35th in the world in terms of specific weight in the total number of articles in publications indexed in WoS, and 20th in the world in terms of specific weight in the total number of patent applications for an invention, i.e. it is not among the 10 leading countries. The citation of domestic publications in the internationalized segment is significantly lower than the average (normalized) indicator, which does not give grounds to talk about the achievement of research excellence and even world-class domestic competence centers. Conclusion. The creation of the Digital Healthcare Consortium in 2018, the world-class Scientific Center “Digital Biodesign and Personalized Healthcare” in 2020 and the initiative of the regulator (Ministry of Health of Russia) in 2021 should be noted as key events in the development of the frontier in the Russian Federation. At the same time, it is important to note that the main global actors in the transformation of the digital twins frontier into high-tech equipment and services are not research centers, but companies acting simultaneously as qualified customers and beneficiaries of ongoing projects of a full innovation cycle. Having huge R&D budgets and having a clear goal setting, it is these participants in the process that become the main drivers of the technological development of the healthcare sector associated with the introduction of digital twins. In this regard, the absence of the direction of Russian companies on the patent landscape cannot but cause concern, which creates risks of using innovative solutions created in the domestic sector of interdisciplinary research in the interests of foreign corporations identified as technology leaders in this review.

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About the authors

Olga S. Kobyakova

Federal Research Institute for Health Organization and Informatics

Email: kobyakovaos@mednet.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0098-1403
SPIN-code: 1373-0903

MD, PhD, Professor

Russian Federation, 11, Dobrolyubova str., Moscow, 127254

Vladimir I. Starodubov

Federal Research Institute for Health Organization and Informatics

Email: starodubov@mednet.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3625-4278
SPIN-code: 7223-9834
http://www.mednet.ru

MD, PhD, Professor, Academician of the RAS

Russian Federation, 11 Dobrolyubova str., Moscow, 127254

Natalia G. Kurakova

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Email: kurakova-ng@ranepa.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1896-6420
SPIN-code: 5741-6679

PhD in Biology

Russian Federation, 11, Dobrolyubova str., Moscow, 127254

Liliya A. Tsvetkova

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Author for correspondence.
Email: tsvetkova-la@ranepa.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9381-4078
SPIN-code: 8668-9347

PhD in Biology

Russian Federation, 11, Dobrolyubova str., Moscow, 127254

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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
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1. Fig 1. Dynamics of patent activity in the world in the direction of "Digital twin in medicine and healthcare" (by date of publication).

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2. Fig 2. Top-30 key players in the global patent landscape in the area of “Digital Twin in Medicine and Healthcare” (by date of publication).

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3. Fig 3. Distribution of patents in the field of "Digital Twin in Medicine and Healthcare" by priority countries.

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4. Fig 4. Dynamics of patenting in priority countries in the direction of "Digital twin in medicine and health care".

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5. Fig 5. Top 50 conceptual clusters of patent documents related to the development of digital twins for healthcare

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6. Fig 6. Dynamics of the number and citation of publications in the field of "Digital twins in medicine and health care", 2001–2021.

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