Here’s why medtech companies must embrace innovation, connectivity and disruption.


connectivity DeviceTalks Tuesday DeviceTalks Tuesday healthcare innovation S3 Connected Health connectivityHealthcare must shift away from responding to acute episodes and focus on chronic and preventive care to provide better care, value, and population health. Data will inform the transition. Key questions include, “What does this mean for medtech? What role does medtech play in the future?”

The topic of innovation in healthcare — including devices, data, and disruption — was the focus of a recent episode of DeviceTalks Tuesdays, sponsored by S3 Connected Health.

Panelists included medical device experts Bill Betten, director of solutions – medtech for S3 Connected Health, and Michael Hill, PhD, retired VP of corporate science, technology and innovation at Medtronic and currently a partner at Science Innovation.

Here are five takeaways on the growing importance of data and disruption in medtech:

1. Medical devices are becoming connected

Initially, “The device was the thing,” Betten said. A hospital laboratory or clinician used the medical device in isolation. But over time, Betten explained, “We’ve added connectivity to devices.” Connectivity provides the ability to extract data from a device such as a pacemaker. That data can be reviewed and interpreted to derive insights, influence therapy and eventually provide new types of services.

Betten envisions a future of “truly connected health” and “hospitals without walls,” which eventually leads to ubiquitous personal care, with care delivered anywhere, anytime, on-demand.

2. Data is the lifeblood of healthcare

Realizing the vision of a connected health system — which provides better care, value and population health — requires a system driven by data. Betten said, “Data is the lifeblood of that system; without data, I can’t make decisions.”

But deriving value from the data in the health system — and connected medical devices — is a massive challenge, illustrated by the 4 Vs of data:

  • The volume of data is overwhelming.
  • The velocity of data is incredibly high and is increasing, presenting challenges in using data for timely decision-making.
  • There is an enormous variety of data, with numerous data sources, including consumer data.
  • There are challenges in ensuring the veracity of the data. “How truthful is it, and can I trust it?” asked Betten.

These Vs are prerequisites to generating value. “You turn data into information, and hopefully information into action. But really, action has to show up in outcomes and create a new value stream,” Betten said.

3. Medtech must overcome data connectivity barriers

The vision of a connected health system is exciting, but the reality is not yet there. “Data and analytics will create value,” Hill said. He added, “The problem is that it [the data] has to be shared . . . the shame,” Hill continued, is, “it’s still in so many silos, in so many disparate places.”

Betten advocated for industry-wide standards to drive data sharing. “I’m a big believer that we need to define standards for interoperability, standards that allow data to be taken, normalized, and pulled together.”

4. Using data to create a holistic view and drive action

If these barriers can be addressed, silos broken and data shared, “We can have a holistic view of the patient,” Hill said. This holistic data-driven view provides the potential to fundamentally disrupt how healthcare is delivered.

Instead of providing reactive and episodic care, care can be proactive, preventative, and personalized. This shift to prevention can involve predictive algorithms and decision support tools to assist clinicians.

5. Will medtech become more commoditized? Disrupted?

Betten sees a future where medical devices become more commoditized, with similar core functionalities. He sees a future with smart homes, smart hospitals and smart devices — all driven by data.

Hill isn’t so sure about the commoditization of devices. He sees device companies continuing to provide value by developing new therapies and increasing access to existing therapies. He also believes there are opportunities for medtech companies to improve efficiency and care delivery.

The panelists agreed the disruption is an essential part of medtech’s future. “There’s a lot of room for medtech device companies to disrupt our future,” said Hill.

Betten said, “Medicare is ripe for disruption,” and added, “The medical industry needs to disrupt itself.” If the medical industry and device companies don’t disrupt themselves, they leave opportunities for the Amazons and startups to be the ones driving change.

Provided to Medical Design & Outsourcing by BullsEye Resources.