With the global cloud computing market for healthcare slated to top $55 billion by 2025, the medical device industry is solidly in the throes of the Medtech 3.0 era.
If Medtech 1.0 was characterized by industrial devices, and Medtech 2.0 by mainly analog devices with some microelectronic and digital components, Medtech 3.0 involves smart devices, augmented by artificial intelligence and connectivity.
But connectivity for connectivity’s sake doesn’t add value unless it’s used to activate data at the point of care and throughout the care continuum. That means breaking down silos between devices and systems, both to access data at the enterprise level and to provide that data to the end customers: physicians, patients, caregivers, and payers.
“The starting line is connectivity. Then it’s about collecting the data and then activating the data – vertically, at the episode of care, and then horizontally, across the continuum of care. Using an open platform allows different medical device companies to collect and share that data among the device makers, as well as with the patient and provider. Breaking down silos will drive higher-quality care at reduced costs,” says Scott Huennekens, a serial medtech entrepreneur who’s led pioneering companies in the advanced cardiovascular imaging and robotic surgery sectors and serves on the boards of several medtech enterprises.
Here are five key trends for medical device companies to consider when devising their strategies for a connected, digital age:
- Un-silo and embrace the cloud. It’s important to recognize that the medtech industry needs to move from siloed solutions, with manufacturers tightly controlling all elements of the hardware, software, and user experience, to a more integrated ecosystem. Leveraging standardized and scalable technology stacks allows manufacturers to break down the silos within their product portfolios.
- Think about the system, not just the device. Medical devices are becoming commoditized, with growing competition in emerging markets. That can be offset by digital innovation – an ecosystem of connected devices working in synchrony to improve care. Having the ability to roll out packaged updates to a fleet of installed units can dramatically increase efficiency and reduce costs, and predicting device end-of-life and proactively upgrading can reduce operational and patient safety issues. But it’s not a competitive advantage for medtech companies to build the underlying infrastructure. Focus on specific digital health IP that’s core to your business, and partner for everything else to drive speed to market.
- Enhance the patient experience at bedside. Digital isn’t just driving the increase in telehealth and remote care. It’s also key to enhancing the patient experience at the bedside, through the ability to capture actionable data. Gathering real-time operational data (e.g., motor currents, sensor data) can help identify maintenance issues early and schedule proactive service visits.
- Don’t sleep on cybersecurity. Healthcare is still the most-targeted industry from a cybersecurity standpoint, with a 45% increase in attacks in 2020. Ensuring a robust security environment is crucial. Consider and document the risk of product security to the entirety of your medical device system, especially as it intersects with data privacy and patient safety. And consider architecture options that anonymize and isolate data based on implications to Protected Health Information (PHI), Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and with command & control data.
- Read up on regulatory. Regulatory bodies worldwide are stepping up their oversight of medical devices and, especially, Software as a Medical Device. Keep abreast of the regulatory changes in your target regions, and find a partner to augment and enhance your Quality Management System to keep pace with evolving privacy, security, and quality regulations, incorporating those standards and best practices into your product development lifecycle.
The prospect of making the jump from Medtech 2.0 into the 3.0 pool can be daunting for medical device companies – even for those whose devices already offer connectivity. But by breaking down silos, embracing the inevitability of the cloud, and focusing on core digital IP – and finding the right partners for everything else – medical device makers can compete in an increasingly digital, connected marketplace.