The number of patents and applications published relating to bioinformatics and digital health has dramatically increased in recent years, particularly in the US and China, according to new research released today.

The report, produced by IP firm Mewburn Ellis and based on patent publication data for the last 10 years, found a dramatic increase in bioinformatics and digital health patents year-on-year across all fields, and notably in digital health, with computer-assisted diagnosis, therapy delivery and monitoring (in particular remote applications of the latter two) playing a large part.

The report, which looked at selected regions and groupings comprising the US, China, Europe, PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty), Japan and Korea, also found that there has been a sharp increase over the last five years in the number of Chinese patents and applications published, meaning that China is now second only to the US (or even overtook the US, in some technical areas) in the volume of its bioinformatics and digital health patents. Applications from Chinese originating applicants do not yet however outnumber applications from countries that have dominated the field over the last 10 years, with US-originating applicants still firmly in pole position.

Specific categories within digital health that have seen substantial growth are medical image analysis and computer-assisted therapy and monitoring, which have seen a significant uptick since 2018. More established computational life sciences disciplines such as bioinformatics and computational chemistry/chemoinformatics have also seen increased volumes of patents over the last 10 years, but at a slower rate. The picture was different for pharmaceutical/hygiene preparations, and the field of digital communications, where the same growing trend was not apparent.

Camille Terfve, senior associate and patent attorney, commented:

“These findings are in line with the personal experience of our bioinformatics and digital health team, whose work in this practice area has seen sizeable growth in recent years. The findings also illustrate the strong belief of the life sciences industry in a digital and data-driven future, and the diversity of players – in terms of size, expertise and geography – in this multi-disciplinary and rapidly evolving field.”

Christopher Casley, partner and patent attorney, added:

“There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards remote healthcare solutions and this looks set to continue as data-driven technology plays an increasingly significant role in all our lives. Our research shows that this revolution was already well underway before the pandemic hit. The jurisdictional trends we uncovered are striking, so too are the growth trends of the different areas. It will be interesting to see how these trends have been influenced by the pandemic and how they will develop as we move into the post-pandemic era.”



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