Oh hey, sorry if I bumped into you. I should be more careful when I walk down the street, but I was distracted. By what you ask? Well, me and my trusty binoculars have been looking skyward for flying pigs and downward for massive blocks of ice because it has become apparent that things have changed.
I used to say that the medical device industry was going to figure out that the old world of selling their wares was gone sometime around when pigs fly or hell freezes over, thus my quest for the above-noted items. I was in Minneapolis last week, self-appointed mecca of the medical device industry, and I saw, with my own eyes, some longtime medtech industry stalwarts talking about the current state of the industry in a way I have not seen before.
I was at the Minneapolis Medtech Conference and sitting in the audience watching a panel prior to mine. Now let me add that the panel I was there to moderate was about how artificial intelligence and data are changing the medtech world, which is weird enough. Historically there has been little discussion about the convergence of these worlds where the medtech glitterati gather. MedTech entrepreneurs of the traditional variety and data scientists of the new world order variety are rarely mixed in the same drink. They have not been entirely imiscible (a new vocabulary word I learned from my pal David Shaywitz recently), by which I mean they are not totally incapable of mixing. We have seen evidence of the cocktail here and there (Propeller Health, Canary Medical, even products like implantable defibrillators from big companies like Boston Scientific and Medtronic), but they have been rare, with most of the medical device world focused more on the mechanical engineering aspects or even the bioresorbable aspects than the data-intensive ones.
And even more relevant perhaps, the medtech world has stayed largely away from the payer world, thinking about reimbursement primarily as an offensive strategy much akin to how one might guard LeBron James, rather than how one might hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Few of the medtech stalwarts have really committed to products that are intended to reduce costs to the healthcare system; the usual refrain is better medical devices are “more expensive but someday the world will thank us.”
But there I was, in the belly of the medtech beast, watching two very stalwart representatives of the field (guys who have been at it a really long time with many successful medtech companies under their belt) say things like this:
- Electronics in and on the body is the biggest recent trend affecting medtech;
- Big technology companies are making real inroads into medtech and traditional medtech must partner with them to deliver better healthcare; and
- Use of technology to transform the cost of healthcare needs to be in the forefront of medical device thinking
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