As the old year ends and a new one begins, the medical device industry has plenty to consider. In this two part series, we’ll first look at what happened in 2015 – but keeping an eye on the future. Our next post will look at emerging trends that will shape 2016.
Just like in the consumer world, mobile apps have exploded in healthcare. From heart rate monitors to oxygen monitors to weight loss help, the market has become highly populated. However, the usefulness of many apps remains in doubt, and the sheer number alone makes competition stiff.
The future lies in large part upon regulation. What happens when you put powerful diagnostics in the hands of the masses? Will doctors get overwhelmed with incoming information? Will patients begin self-treatment? How do you verify the accuracy of the data?
The FDA has announced that the intended use of the app decides if it’s just an app or a medical device. Currently their definition is quite broad. The next year will likely see refinement and a bit of a purge in the number of apps. Investors, consumers, and doctors are going to get pickier and seek out apps that only add true value to their lives.
This year showed continued mounting pressure in medical device reimbursement. As bundled healthcare gained momentum, the trend towards creating lower cost devices intensified. Meanwhile, device makers jockeyed for position to score key group purchasing organization contracts.
The year ahead will see more package offerings, like rehab service included with orthopedic prosthetics deals. Some brave manufacturers will still forge ahead to offer truly new devices. The hope is that the clinical data will support higher costs. Meanwhile, others will strip down current devices to make them more affordable.
Finally, device makers must dedicate themselves to educating payers that good value must accompany low cost decisions. And the companies with the best developed reimbursement strategies will come out on top in 2016.
Due to intense economic pressure, manufactures are taking a much closer look at cost cutting measures. The analysis of factors like supply chains, logistics, assembly, and packaging has become nearly as sophisticated as device development itself. Those who plan in a comprehensive and strategic manner will have a clear advantage. The key: address all cost issues as early in the game as possible.
Big Data And The IoT
It’s well known that the likes of Google and Apple are edging their way into the healthcare arena. These players know how to leverage big data. This means gathering, processing, managing – and of course selling – the information.
Along similar lines, the Internet of Things (IoT) has reached deep into the medical device market, and this will continue. Smart technology will penetrate deeper into the clinical setting, such as with patient data access. This change will also expand beyond the hospital borders to the ambulatory setting.
Look out for more joint efforts between tech and medical device companies. But also be aware that many tech startups just might end up doing it faster and cheaper than the bigger actors.
Just like in every other industry, cyber risk worries the medical device industry. But not nearly enough is being done about it. Since many questions must be addressed, the situation creates abundant opportunities. For example, devices with a well-defined risk strategy can differentiate themselves from the competition. Also, cyber risk mitigation is an industry in itself that has yet to be fully exploited.