While healthcare professionals have been pushed to their limit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies that support these frontline heroes with medical supplies and devices have had to adapt right alongside them. The pandemic has presented significant challenges for medtech companies. Although keeping up with unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment, ventilators and other critical devices and equipment has been a top priority, they also continue to deal with the disruptions of a remote work environment that nearly every company faces.
Let’s take a look at some of other ways the medtech industry is changing, who is leading the way and how medtech companies can prepare for the future.
In a recent virtual event with Own, five key areas were outlined about changes in the medtech industry.
5 key areas where medtech is changing
1. Hybrid engagement: Life science and medtech sales revolve around reps forming strong relationships with healthcare providers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was done almost exclusively in person. And when the world went into a lockdown phase, everyone went remote. While we're slowly starting to see in-person engagement come back, most organizations will adopt a hybrid engagement model that includes both a face-to-face and a digital strategy that assists in sharing the latest resources on products, providing the necessary support for service calls as well as take into account all resources needed for a customer interaction
2. Value creation: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a shift in the medtech industry to embrace value-based health care, in which device makers are paid not only for the products they sell but also for the outcomes they deliver. As a result of this shift, we are seeing medtech companies move beyond just selling a single product to offering solutions across the continuum of care.
3. Efficiency-driven: While more digital engagement can create new opportunities, an influx of data can also make compliance more complicated and costly. Going forward, medtech companies will continue to look for ways to reduce cost and be more efficient. This includes anything from how contracts are negotiated, to upsell and cross-sell opportunities with existing products.
4. Precision at scale: Precise and personalized medicine continue to be a major focus throughout the healthcare industry. For medtech companies in particular, this means personalizing not just the recovery and treatment stages, but the prevention stage as well. This requires developing solutions for patients who run the risk of developing a disease or disorder prior to treatment — and working with healthcare professionals to find ways to help with prevention.
5. Device-enabled experiences: A key part of improving patient outcomes are timely interventions. Wearables offer the potential for real-time data collection, increasing care provider accuracy and informing decision-making. A 2019 Pew Research Center study reported that 21% of U.S. adults surveyed say they regularly wear a smartwatch or wearable fitness tracker. And this number only continues to increase, as the global number of devices is expected to surpass one billion by 2022, according to Statista.
Market drivers of digital transformation
While we’ve mentioned several factors that are accelerating digital transformation in the medtech industry, here are some drivers that are changing these key areas.
- Consolidation: M&A activity is nothing new to the medtech industry: In the first half of 2020, there was over $16B in M&A activity. As more medtech organizations continue to look for products that complement existing portfolios or expansion into adjacent markets, their mergers will continue to drive changes.
- Commoditization: Product lifecycle management is key to continuous product evolution and technology adoption. As more and more devices are introduced based on similar features and benefits instead of outcomes or value, commoditization occurs.
- New entrants: There has been an adoption of technology when it comes to joint replacement as robots take center stage. The use of this technology has shown great results, and we are likely to see expansion into other procedures within the same specialty, such as trauma, sports medicine or spine, as an example.
- Health policy: As elective procedures are starting to be scheduled, medtech organizations are seeing a shift and focus to ambulatory surgery centers. Updates to reimbursement policies as well as patient request for outpatient surgery will likely continue to drive adoption.
- Consumer access: More and more patients are doing research on their treatment-plan options and where to receive care. From connecting with friends and family on social media sites to searching with key terms on search engines, patients are looking to play an active role in their treatment.
How medtech companies can adapt to a changing world
Many in the medtech industry are moving toward digital adoption, technological transformation, changing consumer attitudes, and business model disruptions. To achieve this, companies should consider new strategies to thrive in the future of healthcare. Being prepared with consumer-centric product portfolios, and an operating and business model that supports this will be key. Medtech companies should also consider implementing platforms to make sense of all the available data, such as the creation of an ecosystem that brings all participants together to collaborate across the continuum of care.
Once you have aggregated all of this data, it’s also critical you have a way to protect that investment. Data is more valuable than gold, oil, platinum or any precious metal or stone because of its potential to help you drive more interactions and engagement — and ultimately get a better experience for patients overall.
As digital transformation continues in the medtech industry, creating scalable solutions that incorporate lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic — and align with the future vision of an organization — is key. All the while, identifying the right partners that can help create an ecosystem that brings HCPs, healthcare systems, payers and patients together will continue to deliver value to the continuum of care.