MedTech as a new leader in smart consumer electronics
It is well-known that healthcare is a perpetually in-demand sector. By 2023, the value of the medical device market, or MedTech, is forecasted to reach $200 billion with a combined annual growth rate of 4.9% over the coming years. Rapid growth is fueled by a number of factors, from demographic trends to changes in taxation and regulation. As a matter of fact, more and more consumer electronics companies are looking into the possibility of embracing MedTech and shifting their focus towards smart health and lifestyle solutions.
In this article, we will explain why MedTech is taking a lead in smart device industry and the main trends that are worth exploring.
While broader economy is challenged by high tax rates and ambiguity about global trade, the medical device industry is flourishing due to population growth, aging of the baby boomer generation and disturbing predominance of chronic illnesses. What is more, MedTech sector is being constantly innovated and advanced due to high level of research and development within the industry. In 2019, more than 15,000 medical technology patents were registered with the European Patent Office (EPO), which is still more than any other sector in Europe.
MedTech is a broad term which refers to devices, services and solutions used to improve people’s health. In one form or another, it became a part of our everyday life and is slowly conquering consumer electronics market. When talking about medical technologies, we are mainly referring to the three major categories:
- Electronic health gadgets which apply ICT (information and communication technologies) to trace users’ health condition.
- In vitro diagnostics (IVDs) refers to non-intrusive devices to control the status of patients’ well-being.
- Medical appliances (MDs) examine, recognize, test or treat user’s health and physical conditions.
It is important to understand that due to its patient-oriented approach, modern MedTech solutions are changing the rules of the industry. Most smart medical devices have user-friendly interface which allows ordinary people to use them without third-party assistance or consultations. Thus, MedTech solutions are widely used both for preventive healthcare and illnesses treatment.
Medtech in 2020: numbers and main trends
If you have decided to break into the MedTech with a smart device, app or website idea, it is essential to keep up with various trends and digital transformations that are disrupting the industry.
Trend 1: Medical wearables
Healthcare and fitness appliances are not new, but their popularity will continue growing in 2020 and beyond. Wearable technic is broadly used by doctors to monitor patients’ health by tracking body temperature, checking for cardiac irregularities and analyzing electrolytes in sweat. In the near future, the majority of healthcare providers will integrate wearables in the course of wellness and prevention techniques. Due to a high demand for medical wearables, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated pre-certification procedure for wearables to accelerate the timing to bring them to the marketplace.
Examples to consider
CGMs and insulin injector pens
As a medical condition which affects roughly 1 in 7 adults, diabetes is considered to be a fertile soil for smart solutions development. Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) is an appliance that assists users to constantly track their blood glucose by testing blood samples at regular time frames. The pioneering CGM devices were introduced in 1999, and recently the market was hit by advanced version of Continuous Glucose Monitors. Innovative CGMs, such as Freestyle Libre and Eversense have a user-friendly app which can be installed on Android, Apple Watch or iOS. It allows the patient and its caregivers (doctors, family members, close friends) to comfortably examine their glucose levels and trace particular changes.
Smart insulin distribution schemes
Open Artificial Pancreas System, or OpenAPS, is an impressive initiative in MedTech sector. OpenAPS has two important functions: it measures the level of glucose and delivers insulin in user’s organism. The technology was first introduced four years ago by Dana Lewis when her partner Scott Leibrand used hormone drain to automatize the distribution of hormone in Dana’s bloodstream. Closed-loop insulin technology constantly controls body glucose and keeps it within a secure level by adapting the quantity of hormone delivered into blood.
Trend 2: AI and Medicine
It’s intriguing to realize how many subfields of the medical sector have already taken measures toward introducing artificial intelligence solutions in their approach to patient-centered care. According to Frost & Sullivan research, AI healthcare technology are forecast to reach 6.6 billion dollars by 2021. Nowadays, hospitals and clinics are often using the Cloud to store patients’ personal information and disease records. Artificial Intelligence can allow doctors to diagnose problems on earlier stages and get a better understanding of diagnostic trends. As a result, AI medical solutions lead to a better patient care and help medical professionals to analyse information in a timely manner. Artificial Intelligence has the capability to make various organizational tasks, such as scheduling changes, data entry and coding faster and more time-efficient.
Example to consider
Telemedicine and interactive symptom-checking chatbots
Due to the internet and smartphones, electronic health consultations are rapidly growing in popularity. With intense career-oriented lifestyles that many people have these days, it becomes hardly possible for them to visit a doctor. Besides that, it is problematic for many people to tell how severe their illness is and if they actually need a consultation. Recently, Kaiser Family Foundation survey has also revealed that almost 50% of people aged from 18 to 29 do not have a family doctor. Thus, there is a growing demand for telemedicine and digital consultations that are available 24/7 and help both patients and doctors to use time more efficiently. For example, AI is used in Buoy, an interactive symptom-checking chatbot, to identify, detect, and treat health concerns. The patient is asked to answer several health-related questions from a series of options provided by the chatbot. It can determine how serious one’s complaints are and offer a list of hospitals nearby to see a doctor if necessary.
Trend 3: 3D printing
3D printing is actively advancing modern healthcare and is set to reach 1.7 billion dollars by the end of 2022. It is currently used for patient-specific implants creation, surgical devices development and skill-building practices for medical students.
Example to consider
Smart optical lens
Advanced optical lens are an innovative project within the Internet of Things industry. Despite the fact that the idea of smart optics has a great potential which includes the involvement of feelers and 3D printing, the modern science still has not come up with an effective solution. Google Life Sciences has made an attempt to develop 3D printed smart optical lens that would estimate eye glucose and assist patients with diabetes to track their condition. However, the project was criticized by the scientific community which claimed that tear glucose can not be considered as a reliable source of information. The project was eventually abandoned, but smart device companies are still considering developing smart solutions in the area of optics and eyesight.
Trend 4: Depression and smart apps
As reported by The Economist, Generation Z, which comes after millennials, is stressed, depressed and exam-oriented. With growing concerns over anxiety and depression, connected electronics industry is developing numerous smart solutions to cope with this medical condition.
Example to consider
Apple Watch pilot project
In 2017, Cognition Kit Limited in cooperation with Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. have explored the possibility of developing a special edition Apple Watch for observing and evaluating users with mental disorders. The research revealed a great chance of integration with the app which was used by patients to control their mental condition and mood on a daily basis. Apple Watch daily reports showed that app-supported cognitive examination can be reliable and well-grounded. The study has showed the prospective for wearable devices to be applied to evaluate the influence of depression and other mental conditions non-stop.
Trend 5: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
The introduction of robotic process automation (RPA) in healthcare can significantly improve the quality healthcare services - from simple consultations to complex surgical invasions. RPA is the capability of a device or medtech software to execute a pre-programmed task monotonously, but with productivity many times higher than a human. The “magic formula” is the following:
IoT + AI + RPA = The Future of Digital Healthcare
With these three innovative technologies combined together, a healthcare services can indeed work quite autonomously, like a human-being, making the right decisions promptly, and at scale.
A great progress of the Internet of Things industry has discovered a lot of opportunities in medicine and lifestyle. If linked to the internet or smartphone apps, normal medical appliances can record important data, provide supplementary insight into health conditions and illnesses, facilitate remote services and overall give doctors and ordinary people more opportunities to track and control health. Medical wearables, interactive chatbots, 3D printing facilities and smart robots are the key areas to consider as Medtech continues conquering smart consumer electronics industry. The BBA team has already launched 3 MedTech products and we are ready to help you reach unprecedented heights in this direction as well. The sky is the only limit for us.