HT39 image 1smallMedical innovation has undergone a huge transformation lately, driven by personal and portable devices and the ability to integrate them with personal healthcare and information technology systems.

Brian Wyatt, Sr. Vice President, Medical and Healthcare, Cyient, writes: “We have witnessed tremendous growth in the increased integration of Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and other diagnostics as well as growing integration of IT, connectivity, access, and personalised medicine. In addition, the industry is learning from other sectors about the use of innovative technology platforms and how they streamline processes.

“In both established and growing economies, healthcare product evolution and innovation are focused on addressing three problems: aging populations, high patient volume and the need to build cost effective healthcare.

“Patients are becoming more empowered to monitor and improve their well-being through personal and wearable devices. They also want better and cost-effective healthcare solutions, so the use of tablets and smartphones for health monitoring purposes continues to increase. At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Samsung launched a smart belt that tracks a key health predictor.

“The overall medical device market is expected to reach U.S. $343 billion by 2021 and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 4.6 per cent between 2016 and 2021, according to Research and Markets. The medical device connectivity market is maturing too, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 38 per cent until 2020. An aging population, demand for personalised treatment, and increased availability of healthcare are the major drivers behind this growth.

“A growing segment of monitoring devices are available for collecting and tracking data related to general vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure and temperature) or other metrics, such as electrocardiograms (ECG) for those with heart issues or blood sugar for diabetics.

“Some of these products not only provide diagnostic monitoring but also apply physical therapy or adjust ongoing therapy of implantable devices. Using Bluetooth and similar technology, caregivers can also track movements of elderly and vulnerable patients.

The power of interoperability in healthcare data

“Interoperability solutions for exchanging patient data across care settings is another technological development shaping healthcare organisations and the way clinicians interact with patients. By including post-acute care in interoperability strategies, healthcare organisations can ensure that critical patient information across all care settings will be connected, providing a more detailed patient picture for more specific treatment plans and improved patient care.

“Extending connected solutions to patients who live in remote or rural areas or have transportation issues and would otherwise be challenged to return to the point of care, the physician’s office or hospital is a true game-changer for the industry.

HT39 image 2“Research has found that between 25 to 50 per cent of referring providers are not aware of whether their patients have completed their referrals, while approximately 50 per cent of referring and specialist providers do not communicate with each other. The cost of this referral leakage can be reduced by a proper referral network management program that database and consulting companies can help monitor.

“Beyond large hospital systems, small-to-mid sized practices also struggle with different workflow requirements with suppliers and other providers that do not necessarily interact.

“Traditional healthcare companies generally have been reluctant to adopt some of the fast-moving technology changes, instead choosing to wait for regulatory agency guidance given to these new products and uses along with marketplace acceptance.

Learning from innovation in other industries

“There is potential for medical device and imaging markets to leverage new technology platforms to reduce development time, save investment costs, and lower barriers to market entry. Medical technology design must rely on distinguishing features and market adoptability to ensure it is in-line with global megatrends. This trend is creating an openness to innovation in a highly regulated industry, allowing new technologies and products to be developed by companies outside of the healthcare industry.

“We are in an age where knowledge spill overs and blending innovation between sectors will become more frequent. Consequently, manufacturers may launch technologies in less-regulated markets in the developing world, where more innovation originates and laws governing the use of such devices isn’t as strict. Manufacturers will need to be flexible and adopt a new approach to global medical device demand. The way people are responding to and adopting an interconnected way of living gives clues about how they want to approach healthcare.”