The pandemic lingering, vaccine coming, hospital budgets tightening, civil inequality and unrest, all of this amidst the most polarized political landscape any of us has seen. What does this mean for MedTech in 2021?
This unsettled situation has presented with some big challenges to overcome, but human beings are vastly creative and caring and can work collectively to solve problems when the pressure is on. As we know, necessity is the mother of all invention and we can see this as creators, inventors and caregivers worldwide respond with solutions and ideas to address, the now obvious, fractures in our healthcare system.
But we are learning. It has become clear with regard to the spreading of Covid-19,that preventative precautions, self-care, vaccinations, limiting contact with other humans will continue to be basic protocol for the way we interact.
Each one of these precautions is having an impact on the way we live. Working from home, an important cautionary measure, is now driving our desire to get out and moving. This in turn has increased participation in outdoor activities, which will be effective in dropping collective stress, while having a positive impact on emotional and physical health. All this impetus to get active will directly benefit the wearable health tech market which will lead to a bolus of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to aid in seeing disease before it happens.
Virtual doctors’ visits will also become the new normal. Five years from now, it will seem absurd to have an in-person visit, risking the spread of an illness, for many ailments can be addressed through online video platforms. As beneficial as these solutions are, they also present some real concerns. Through our increasingly “connected” world, we are actually becoming disconnected from the much-needed human element.
Patients who are homebound may become even more isolated, as our collective attention is on changing social dynamics and the needs of the moment. It is easy to forget empathy when there is a lot of fear/uncertainty and we ourselves are caught up in concerns about the future.
The “care” part of healthcare will continue to fall on the shoulders of providers who will have no small task in finding creative ways to address a multitude of issues. These dedicated individuals are completely flat-lined from the volume of patients and the barriers they face daily in getting needed supplies. Since everyone who walks in the door is entitled to the best care possible, they continue to put themselves at risk daily, for the sake of us all. But we in the MedTech community have their back… we are paying attention to what is not working, helping to solve, not only today’s issues, but also those challenges we anticipate will arise in the future.
Through all of this it has been made clear that there is a fragile healthcare system in the United States. Forward thinking solutions may now be more valued since we have experienced the reality of not being proactive. We are still oriented backwards around sick care and waiting for those who need help to walk in the door. This is our challenge. What have we learned from our experience? How will we provide true care of health going forward?
Whatever that may look like the following technologies and innovations will be part of the solution:
• Wearable health tech for remote patient monitoring as well as daily activity
• Virtual visit and care platforms
• Infection prevention and single-use products
• Any technology that supports the triple aim of value-based care
• Devices and models that facilitate a shift to accessible, lower cost, lower risk, care settings, such as ambulatory surgery centers where procedures often cost 40-50% less to the payer and patient co-pays.
• Healthcare cost reduction
These times of collective change and challenge present opportunities for MedTech companies. Structures are being reorganized, the way healthcare is offered is changing dramatically, and this very situation can open the door widely for innovation. This is a moment in time where revolutionary steps are possible. Cheers to a brighter 2021 and let’s all make the most of it!