This article was originally written for and published by MedCity News.
Health innovation continues to make great leaps forward. There is no looking back and there is no limit on what lies ahead.
The coronavirus pandemic was a black swan event for the world, forcing many industries to shift and adapt to a new way of working – one that catalyzed and necessitated doing things remotely and at home. Consumers are demanding the constant need for technology that is simple, connected and convenient, and medtech companies have had to accelerate to meet those needs. They are embracing these changing times and using it as an opportunity to innovate in three key areas.
1. Hybrid engagement
The effects of the pandemic created a place of isolation where people were not interacting in-person on a regular basis. For this reason, technology has become more important than ever. The medical field is innovating to address these changes in order to carry on with important treatments for patients. Through this hybrid engagement we saw the rise and popularity of telemedicine, where doctors and patients could connect easily through an online portal.
Yet, hybrid engagement goes much farther than just being able to connect with a doctor online. New technologies are now allowing for greater access to medical devices. To this point, doctors can remotely access the device itself for data – as well as the patient. This device data can then be monitored by the doctor to ensure better patient outcomes. In addition, customers who use disposable medical devices now have the ability to order their devices online through an e-commerce portal. This is a game changer for those patients. The significance of this is important because technology is making it easy to fulfill customer needs by granting them access to what they are looking for in today’s marketplace.
The use of technology is also creating a way for businesses to track their progress and see a clear path to how they are adding customer value. By moving away from thinking a “product is just a product” or “a device is just a device,” and moving toward what differentiates the product for the consumer, a business can zero in on the distinct value they are providing. This new way of thinking establishes a connection with the customer, which enhances the overall experience of using the product.
2. Device enablement
Advancements in technology are enabling the industry to tap into a growing need for devices, such as sensors and wearables. According to a recent study by eMarketer, more than a quarter of the U.S. population will use some form of wearable device this year. Wearable devices have the ability to capture a patient’s health data and in some cases, send that information immediately over to a healthcare provider. For some developers, advancements in medical devices could open up an entirely new market of potential products, and a new revenue stream if they are able to identify an area of need. Take glucose monitoring for example. In the past, patients needed to take a finger prick of blood to check their glucose levels. But in today’s modern world, technology has created a wearable device that sends continuous glucose readings wirelessly to a patient’s smartphone. Modern AI and machine learning techniques can predict future blood glucose fluctuations an hour in advance. This is not only quick and convenient for the patient, but could also create enhanced brand loyalty for the medical device company.
When medical device manufacturers make the technology in devices easy to use, consumers are more confident performing tests at home. This type of home testing is appealing because technology makes the sample collection of blood, saliva or urine for analysis easy to capture and cost effective. It is also entirely confidential since it’s done in the comfort of one’s home. As demand increases for these types of tests, so does the need for medical devices to analyze and capture the data. A report from Precedence Research estimates that the home diagnostics market could grow from 5.2 billion dollars in 2020 to more than 8.5 billion dollars by 2030, driven largely by the increased convenience of at-home testing.
3. Efficiency driven
Recent advancements in technology are creating opportunities for medical device companies to work more efficiently — both on their own and collaboratively with partners. A significant amount of planning and effort goes into the creation and execution of a medical device. It’s not only identifying a need and making a product, but also significant steps of research, testing, and regulatory approval to get it developed. After that comes the second part of the equation where the device needs to be physically manufactured, then shipped to the doctor’s office before it gets into the hands of a consumer. All of these steps can be improved through the use of updated technology. Communication and collaboration can be increased. Products can go to market faster. Businesses can develop better partnerships between the medical device manufacturers and the companies selling the products.
Technology can also help to quickly address human errors that may happen. For instance, if an incorrect address is captured in a customer purchase order it could require a lot of time and effort to update if a streamlined system is not in place. It could even deter that customer from wanting to do business with your medical device company again. But using a common technology platform, the process to make a change could be done seamlessly – potentially saving the company time, money and that relationship. Likewise, technology could create more open communication between medical device parts suppliers and the manufacturing companies. This could make it easier for a doctor or a consumer to get a part replaced on a device if needed.
The path forward
The global pandemic forced the medtech industry to adapt to new practices and create a “next normal,” one where technology became the center focus of business operations. This time of crisis and concern yielded adaptation, evolution and advancements. Yet, now is not the time to stop this progress. Businesses must use this catalyst to further scale their innovations both within their organization and across the globe, and look at how their investments in technology today are going to impact their business in the next five to ten years.
Health innovation has leapt forward, and there is no looking back.
For more medtech insights from Chuck, check out his article "The Overlooked Potential of Marketing for MedTech."