- A new survey called the TCS Digital Twindex from Tata Consultancy Services found that 90% of respondents expect digital twin technology, a virtual representation of a physical entity or system, to be broadly adopted in healthcare within the next six years.
- In addition, 52% of respondents saw wide implementation of digital twins in life sciences and healthcare in the next three years.
- The healthcare industry can use digital twins to create personalized treatment plans, predict health outcomes, track chronic conditions and make drug development more efficient, the report noted. However, experts showed concern about privacy and cybersecurity.
The report by TCS, which offers a digital twin platform called TwinX, examined how digital twins could impact industries such as transportation, retail and healthcare.
The study drew on the views of tech industry experts and futurists as well as experts in TCS’ networks. It predicts that digital twins will become “commonplace” in business and society by 2035.
Digital twins allow organizations to “model” scenarios for the future. By creating digital twins of the entire human body, the healthcare industry could allow healthcare professionals to create personalized treatment plans, according to the report.
“They can aid in personalized treatment plans by creating a digital replica of an individual’s health profile,” Alexandra Whittington, a TCS futurist, said in the report. “This would enable doctors to predict health outcomes, monitor chronic conditions, and optimize treatment strategies.”
In the report, futurists discuss how digital twins will allow doctors to test surgical procedures entirely online.
“The progress of digital twins allows us to envision a world in which testing of new technologies, surgical procedures, cosmetics and drugs for the human body happens entirely in cyberspace,” wrote Frank Diana, principal futurist at TCS.
Regulatory requirements and the complexity of creating a full digital twin could delay this development by more than 10 years. In fact, 42% of respondents believed it will be 10 or more years before full digital twins of humans will be commonplace. However, digital twins of organs such as the heart and skin already show potential for future treatments, according to the report.
Meanwhile, half of respondents called out cybersecurity and privacy as key areas of concern for digital twins.
TCS futurist Kevin Benedict called on regulatory bodies to set cybersecurity standards for digital twin technologies and require data anonymization. He also said digital twin technology should comply with data privacy laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Benedict also warned against poor data quality leading to inaccurate models and wrong decisions when using digital twins. Data validation and cleaning procedures could address this issue, he said.
In addition, Benedict recommended that standards be developed to prevent a lack of interoperability from digital twin data.