Our medical device experts recently attended DeviceTalks West, joining peers and industry leaders to share insights and perspectives on medical device innovation, bringing devices to market, engineering and product development, manufacturing and materials, and more. What exactly is on the horizon for the medical device industry? Below, Stacey Erickson and Shane Partington share their key themes from this year’s DeviceTalks West, highlighting the areas that businesses are focussing on to improve patient care with MedTech innovation.
Improving Patient Care with MedTech Innovation
1. Continuum of Care
There was a hyperfocus on patient care across the continuum, with companies sharing how they are moving away from developing specific devices that would treat or fix the problem and instead toward a total device portfolio that allows physicians to bring a more holistic approach to patient care. This was highlighted in the keynote session from Julie Tyler (SVP of Abbott Vascular), who shared Abbott’s experience with bringing in more software, digital, and data solutions to its portfolio with its acquisition of CSI to augment its holistic approach to patient care.
A portfolio of care requires companies to consider a different approach to organizing R&D functions and introducing new development processes and ways of working when it comes to innovation. It also can drive consideration for their business model. For example, Imperative Care talked about how companies can elevate care across the patient journey if they really think about the patient as the one common thread and align the business model to support their continuum of care.
2. Bringing Devices to Market
Another key theme from this year’s DeviceTalks West was accelerating innovation to market for breakthrough technology through the FDA Total Product Life Cycle Advisory Program (TAP). The FDA has established a collaborative approach to work with start-up entrepreneurs on product, indications, and commercial strategies through the TAP Pilot. It brings together stakeholders offering clinician, regulatory, and commercial perspectives to get buy-in on the roadmap and approach, streamlining and accelerating multi-year processes. Ultimately, the aim is to provide more timely access to safe and effective devices that can address human suffering – and, on a macroscale, inspire and invigorate investment in medical device innovation as faster time to market and investment returns are realized.
Another facet of bringing products to market that was explored focused on ramping up operations to meet commercial needs. Brian Kutner from Moon Surgical hosted a breakout where they discussed key strategies for consideration including:
- Co-location of the advanced engineering, operations, and R&D teams in the development and early launch phases to ensure tight collaboration, expedite problem-solving, and support design manufacturability.
- Leveraging a flexible cell-based approach in manufacturing, where everyone is trained on everything to ensure early identification of issues and learnings.
- Outsourcing partnerships and strategies to scale up operations as the product volumes grow and operations stabilize.
3. Engineering and Product Development
There was a heavy focus on engineering and product development, particularly robotics. Keynote speaker Dave Rosa (President of Intuitive), spoke about the role of robotics technology in MedTech, and there was also a main stage panel featuring robotic device companies, healthcare providers, and supply chain leaders. The conversations revolved around the value proposition of robotics technology, including efficacy, cost and value creation, improved and consistent patient outcomes, and the importance of deeply understanding the customer and market needs and aligning technology development to meet them.
We also heard updates from various other companies on innovations in the engineering and product development space, such as automation of clinical testing, leveraging ALM for the software development cycle, AI solutions, and designing devices for pediatrics.
4. Innovation Connected to Patients
The keynote session with Hani Abouhalka (Company Group Chairman of Robotics & Digital Surgery at Johnson & Johnson MedTech) offered a great discussion about the future of digital surgery in MedTech, emphasizing the importance of innovation being connected back to patients and physicians. Innovation should not just be for the sake of innovation, but rather it must solve a problem that is important to surgeons and their teams, and ultimately help the patient.
Data and digital is an important element of innovation in this space, providing the information necessary and keeping the physician “in the loop.” Real-time information – live data about the patient at the time of a procedure – is what physicians need to make timely and patient-centric decisions, either pre- or post-op, that affect patient outcomes.
Ultimately, to affect outcomes, we need to progress digital to support patient care – both giving the patient a say in their treatment and sharing data back to the physician. For instance, if an orthopedic patient goes home with a new knee, the physician needs the data from the ‘knee’ to come back to them (information in/data out) so that the follow-up appointment has all the data possible for the physician to make the right decisions for the patient.
This year’s DeviceTalks West was jam-packed with interesting breakout sessions and insightful discussions on the main stage, focusing on innovation and technology in the industry. There continues to be tremendous opportunity to bring innovative solutions to healthcare, for both the physician and the patient, through medical device technology. Efficacy and value for cost are critical table stakes for device manufacturers, but ultimately ensuring innovation truly solves problems and meets the unmet needs of physicians, their staffs, and their patients is key.
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