The end of 2021 is right around the corner, and it’s expected to look ahead to the near future of the medical devices industry. Specifically in the last couple of years, mainly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen changes, disruptions and some advances in healthcare and life sciences product development, as we’ve never seen before.
So, after such a challenging time, what can developers, designers, and manufacturers of healthcare technologies look forward to, while the world is entering a new phase of recovery from a global pandemic? We collected some of the top changes, trends and opportunities in medical devices, which you should keep an eye on.
Managing global supply chain challenges
It’s not surprising that global supply chain shortages top the list. The covid has affected global shortage in nearly every industry – raw materials, electronic components and finished goods. Forecasts say the backlog of demand is likely to take us through 2022 and into 2023. In addition, transportation of products around the globe has been slowing down significantly, mainly sea and air shipments.
In this environment, proactive supply chain solutions will be a top priority for medical device manufacturers. Planning around severely extended lead times, identifying replacement parts, even redesigning products to accommodate for supply availability—all of this requires better visibility and agility, and the suppliers that can provide this will be winning the game.
Thinking about the supply chain from the earliest moments, leveraging predictive analytics, and relying on the relationships with a global supply chain partner will be some of the most important decisions medical devices companies make this year.
The rise of Telemedicine
Telemedicine has been available for many years, however, in the last two years it exploded. The people’s need to stay at home during Covid 19 quarantine, the fear of going to hospitals, the constraints on flights and transportation in general are all encouraging the usage of telemedicine as a viable and effective method for patient’s medical care.
Healthcare institutions are using it more than ever before. During Covid 19 telemedicine helped to preserve personal protective equipment during a worldwide shortage, protect healthcare workers from being infected, and allowed the monitoring of patients’ chronic conditions without putting them at risk by attending medical settings
Like in Telemedicine, the stay-at-home trend encourages more and more companies to adapt technologies which were once found only in hospitals, labs and professional clinics, to the consumer market. This involves miniaturization of components, adopting different business models and changes in regulation, but the trend cannot be stopped, and is relevant mainly in aesthetic devices, diagnostics, and even therapy
One example for the telemedicine and home use-devices revolution is ultrasound diagnostics, a technology used mainly by physicians in hospitals and clinics : In the last 2 years PulseNmore, a company from Israel, has developed, together with Taga, at-home-use ultrasound device that allows pregnant women to perform an ultrasound scan on their fetuses using only their smartphones and send the results directly to their physician. The PulseNmore product has been launched recently and is highly successful among healthcare service providers and their patients.
Innovation in point-of-care diagnostic devices
Diagnostics at the point-of-care is booming as healthcare organizations wish to shorten the diagnostics process – instead of sending the patient to the hospital or taking a test sample and sending it to the lab for a few days, many diagnostic devices are targeting the physician’s clinic or the nurses point-of-care and providing reliable results within minutes.
The pandemic emphasized how important this trend is.
One example is B-Matrix from Picodya, an award-winning lab-in-a-box for blood tests which was designed by Taga. B-Matrix can be positioned in every point-of-care, can handle multiple blood samples and test different indications, saving time and money for both the health institute and the patient.
The return of elective procedures
Elective surgeries can include cosmetic procedures like removing a mole or a wart. But they can also include more serious conditions like hernia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, elective surgeries were put on hold and with them, the demand for the medical equipment used in those procedures was stopped. Now those elective procedures are starting to recover, and many procedure-dependent companies are finding themselves in the spotlight again, for medical device manufacturers, these are very good news, meaning ramping back up to meet the rising demand.
On growing integration of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and IoT
According to a report by Grand View Research, the market for AI healthcare is expected to upsize from $10.4 billion in 2021 to $120.2 billion by 2028. A significant driver of the growth will come from medical technologies such as advanced diagnostics and robotic-assisted surgery. If you figure out a way to integrate advanced computing into your existing or planned products, you can find a great opportunity in these fields.
Naturally, with the AI technologies comes the increased need for cybersecurity in medical devices. The issue of cyber security has two sides that need to work with each other in harmony. First, the product development and manufacturing side—how the partner controls and protects the customer’s information. Then there’s the security of connected products against cyber threats when they’re in use out in the medical market. Healthcare companies will need to make sure that they’re working with partners who understand and are proactively prepared for the cybersecurity needs of the medical device industry.
No matter the medical device trends you’re focused on, the key to success will be to cultivate partnerships, smart outsourcing in the early design and development stages, manufacturing and support after your products goes out to the market—all of the above will add the expertise, capabilities and capacity to move faster and enter the market more competitively.