Posted: 24 Sep. 2019 5 min. read

AI, data, and new partnerships could define the future of medtech

By Mike DeLone, vice chairman, US life sciences leader, Deloitte LLP

As the health ecosystem increasingly focuses on prevention and early detection, medtech companies will likely need to forge relationships with companies from inside and outside the health ecosystem. Beyond devices that treat illnesses and injuries, we expect medtech companies will focus on the entire patient journey—from prevention and early detection, to diagnosis and treatment, to ongoing monitoring for years after an ailment is cured.

At AdvaMed’s annual conference in Boston yesterday (September 23), my colleague Pedro Arboleda moderated a session on medtech’s likely role in the future of health. During the panel discussion, two medtech strategy executives and a health system CEO outlined the role medtech might play in the health ecosystem 10 or 20 years from now.

We expect medtech companies will continue to play a significant role in reducing medical costs, optimizing provider performance, and improving patient outcomes. In the future, however, the most successful companies will be those that are able to advance health and wellness with the help of emerging technologies. These companies will leverage the evidence and data generated by their digitally enabled and connected devices, and forge partnerships that enhance and extend their capabilities.

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions recently conducted a crowdsourcing simulation with 38 experts representing digital health startups, medtech companies, technology companies, health plans, health systems, and researchers for our new paper: Winning in the future of medtech. We asked participants which technologies they thought could help transform health quality. Nearly 80 percent of them suggested that artificial intelligence (AI)—followed by robotics (53 percent), and nanotechnology (47 percent)—would be most transformative in medtech. AI (specifically machine learning) could help medtech companies leverage massive amounts of device-generated data to help improve devices and treatment decisions in real time. Augmented intelligence, which can offer real-time information based on comprehensive reviews and analyses of a patient’s health information, could give clinicians deep insight to improve clinical decisions.

Mastering data, forging partnerships could be key

As I noted in last week’s My Take, the life sciences companies that are most likely to drive change in the future of health will be those that are willing to reach outside of their own walls to transform. Part of that transformation will require new types of partnerships with stakeholders from inside and outside the health ecosystem.

Take Royal Phillips, for example. The medtech company recently ended the first year of an 11-year partnership with Jackson Health System in Miami.1 The enterprise monitoring as a service (EMaaS) deal was the first strategic agreement of its kind. Philips will have access to data which will be used to enhance its understanding of the patient journey, refine products, and expand on service offerings based on needs. The health system will have access to regularly updated monitoring technology without having to purchase any equipment. Philips says it has since signed similar agreements with eight other institutions.

Medtech companies might also consider partnering with organizations from outside the sector that have expertise in AI. Microsoft, for example, recently announced a $1 billion partnership with OpenAI to enhance the capabilities of its Azure AI and cloud platform, and to help build the next generation of AI applications.2 To date, few medtech companies have made this significant of an investment in AI. However, many of them do have differentiated expertise in the development of medical algorithms, such as translating data from an EKG lead into meaningful output. This expertise could be attractive to potential consumer tech partners.

Partnerships between medtech companies, health systems and technology companies could help benefit both partners and patients. During our simulation, our experts identified which services medtech companies should consider to maximize sales and market share and to help their partners reduce costs and improve outcomes. The top three services they identified were:

  1. Remote patient monitoring: The market for patient monitoring equipment, now valued at more than $5 billion3, could grow significantly as interest in—and acceptance of—virtual care and remote monitoring increase. More than 70 percent of our crowd participants cited this as an added-value service that medtech companies should offer. The data that comes from wearables and other connected devices could prevent the progression of disease and move patients to lower-cost care settings. Remote patient monitoring could also revolutionize the way medtech companies conduct clinical trials and develop products. Always-on digital sensors could be incorporated into joint implants, for example, and provide ongoing product performance data in real time. These findings could then be used to improve products that are in the development pipeline as well as treatment techniques and improved long-term outcomes.
  2. Data storage and integration: Most of our participants said the ability to store and integrate data will be a key service for medtech companies in the future. Integrated data could help clinicians make more informed decisions about how to improve patient care. Rich datasets could also help fuel innovation by mapping the patient journey in much greater detail. This could lead to better patient outcomes, reduce health care costs, and help build stronger relationships between medtech companies and providers.
  3. Clinical efficiencies: Nearly half of our crowd (45 percent) said medtech companies could help generate better outcomes by improving clinical efficiency. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), for example, are already being used to train physicians, nurses, and other health professionals. Some medtech companies are using 3D printing to create realistic anatomical models that can be customized for virtually any clinical situation. These technologies could be combined to create a true-to-life environment for learning or surgical planning, which can reduce training time and improve overall patient satisfaction and safety.

Medtech companies that successfully incorporate some or all of these services can help move care outside of the acute-hospital setting and transition the health sector toward prevention and early intervention, a key shift expected in the future of health.

Potential partnerships between medtech companies and other stakeholders just might begin casually over coffee at industry conferences such as AdvaMed. Representatives from consumer-technology companies regularly attend these conferences, which could create an organic opportunity to begin this important dialogue.

Endnotes
1. Philips and Jackson Health System sign groundbreaking 11-year agreement for Enterprise Monitoring as a Service, press release, June 27, 2018
2. Microsoft to invest $1bn in OpenAI to build Azure AI supercomputing technologies, Data Economy, July 29, 2019
3. Innovation in Telehealth and Patient Monitoring Driving Success for Medtech Companies MD+DI, August 30, 2019

 

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Mike DeLone

Mike DeLone

US Life Sciences Sector Leader

Mike, a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP, is the national sector leader for Deloitte’s Life Sciences practice. In this role, he leads a multi-disciplinary team who serves clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, and consumer health care segments through consulting, advisory, audit, and tax services. Mike is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the life sciences practice as well as its go-to-market strategies and resources. He also serves in the role as life sciences consulting leader. With 20 years of experience dedicated to the life sciences sector, Mike has demonstrated exceptional leadership and practice development. He has led tech and information management teams as well as services at some of our largest biopharmaceutical and medical technology clients, helping them with the definition and implementation of technology and business strategies, related organizational and business alignment. His client work has been presented as examples of leading practices at prominent industry conferences.