Posted: 24 Sep. 2020 14 min. read

AdvaMed session highlights key role medtech companies could play in keeping consumers connected

By Glenn Snyder, principal, MedTech Practice leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP

It’s been more than six months since I’ve had a face-to-face meeting with a client, had a cup of coffee with a colleague, or attended a conference in person. The way business is conducted changed almost overnight—driven by technology and demand from consumers. We are now working remotely, talking with each other via video chat, and attending online conferences from our home offices.

A similar technology-driven transformation is underway in health care, and medtech manufacturers are well positioned to lead the way. Much of what can be done within the four walls of a hospital or doctor’s office could take place in the patient’s home. We are also seeing an increased focus on the ability to monitor and manage chronic diseases remotely and prevent some diseases from occurring by detecting symptoms much earlier.

Connected medical devices could transform medtech

It has been more than a year since we released our paper on the future of health where we described a system of health focused on wellness and prevention where the consumer is at center. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many of the changes we expected would emerge over the next 20 years. The pandemic, for example, fundamentally accelerated our use of virtual health technologies. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Survey of US Health Care Consumers, between 2019 and early 2020, about 19% of consumers had used virtual health—up from about 15% the prior year. Between January 2020 and April, that percentage jumped to nearly 30%. I suspect it will continue to increase.

I recently moderated a panel discussion for AdvaMed’s Virtual MedTech Conference, which you can watch right now without having to get on a plane or check into a hotel, that explored what the acceleration in digital health could mean to medtech companies.

During the discussion, Vindell Washington, chief clinical officer at Verily Life Sciences, challenged the medtech sector to play a role in helping to free people from the burden of disease by helping them manage a condition before it becomes a crisis. He suggested that medtech companies could work more closely with health care providers, care teams, and consumers to identify the components of health. This could help identify potential health issues and prevent them from advancing.

The growing adoption of connected devices—and how they have benefited consumers and patients through this pandemic—should be a wake-up call for the medtech industry, added Lisa Earnhardt, executive vice president of medical devices at Abbott. She urged medtech companies to identify ways their products can help patients monitor chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart failure, chronic pain) from home. The dramatic acceleration of virtual health adoption has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings, she said.

Guru Gurushankar, Ph.D., world-wide lead for medical devices at Amazon Web Services (AWS), said there will need to be some heavy lifting on the technology side, but he noted that medtech companies shouldn’t have to re-invent the wheel. The ultimate benefit of AWS’s technology, he explained, is that medtech customers can spend less time doing undifferentiated tasks and more time focusing on their core competencies that add value to their customers and organizations. 

Here are three trends we expect could reshape how care is delivered in the future: 

  1. Prolific sensors: Over the past few years, wearable devices have evolved from basic step counters to connected digital devices that track a wide range of clinical biomarkers. In the future, we expect increasingly advanced sensors will be on us, around us, even in us. Many of them will be regulated medical devices. Venk Varadan, co-founder and CEO of Nanowear, described undergarments that have built-in nanosensors to measure seven body metrics. The connected sensors, for example, can alert care teams to a worsening heart condition. “We shouldn’t have to wait for something to go wrong with our health before we react,” he said. Data generated by always-on sensors could provide deep insight into our physical wellbeing, but they might also be able to assess where we are mentally, emotionally, and socially. The information collected by these devices could lead to more personalized care.
  2. Virtual triage: Some of the changes we expect will be predicated on the patients who need to be seen in person and those who can be triaged virtually. The triage process for care could move from the physical face-to-face interactions we have today to a system where the patient’s first interaction is with an app or a website. The second stage of this future triage process might be a virtual interaction with a clinician. The final step would be a face-to-face interaction. We expect to see a permanent shift in the way the health system assesses patients. This type of shift can have a major impact in how care is distributed.
  3.  Retail health: Retail health represents a fraction of health spending in the US, but we expect to see significant growth over the next five years. A handful of organizations are investing heavily in expanding the footprint of retail health, which could fundamentally change how care is provided. During that period, we expect about 25% of health care spending will move from traditional clinical settings to retail settings.

We’ve also seen increased interest in the hospital-at-home (H@H) concept, which my colleague Summer Knight, M.D. highlighted in a recent blog post. Few patients will complain about not having to spend time in a hospital or going home from the hospital early. While H@H is picking up steam, medtech companies are essential for enabling it. They should also assure patients and clinicians that devices designed for the home can provide the same level of sophistication and safety as devices used in the hospital.

Expect to see new types of partnerships

More health systems are partnering with medtech companies to transform everything from designing the hospital of the future to specific areas of care. During our virtual panel discussion, Aimee Quirk, CEO of innovationOchsner (a division of Louisiana-based Ochsner Health), explained that the hospital system is transitioning to a model of offering personalized proactive and predictive health services. In this model, the hospital is no longer the epicenter of the care model, she explained. Instead, health will often take place at home, as demonstrated by Ochsner Digital Medicine, a completely virtual platform to manage chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes. Last December, Ochsner announced that it had forged a partnership with Hims & Hers, a direct-to-consumer telehealth and wellness company that offers online access to medical care and treatment for more than a dozen conditions.1 Through the partnership, Aimee explained her organization was able to create a coordination-of-care opportunity so that patients can be connected to the health system’s Digital Medicine program, and receive top-quality care, wherever they are.

Health is comprised of many things that typically aren’t captured in the medical record. Medtech companies should take a broad view of health that includes health coaches, pharmacists and other health professionals. They should develop devices that allow for a more continuous model of care.

Once the threat of COVID-19 has diminished, we will likely begin to work from our offices again. We will conduct face-to-face meetings, have coffee with our colleagues, and travel to conferences. But we will also be able to do those things remotely if we choose. Similarly, patients will be able to seek care at a hospital of doctor’s office, but they also will be able to do many of those things remotely, if they choose. 

Deloitte will lead two timely panel discussions as part of AdvaMed’s Virtual MedTech Conference, including one that will be livestream on Oct 7 from 11a.m. to 12p.m. EST.

  • Livestream: Thriving Post-Covid-19—While COVID-19 may have negatively impacted many MedTech businesses, those who innovate their business models can thrive in “the new normal.” We’ll discuss new ways to engage physicians, clinicians, and consumers that can help drive better health outcomes, improve satisfaction, and potentially lower cost. The discussion will be moderated by Glenn Snyder with panelists from Abbott, the Mayo Clinic, Teladoc and more.
  • Available now on-demand: Everywhere care, everywhere MedTech: Powering the future of health—The health care system will see exponential changes in the next two decades as advanced digital technologies, empowered consumers, and radically interoperable data become the norm. MedTech companies that develop technologies to capitalize on these trends may have a competitive advantage. Glenn moderated this panel with Lisa Earnhardt (Abbott), Venk Varadan (Nanowear), Aimee Quirk (innovationOchsner), Guru Gurushankar (Amazon Web Services) and Vindell Washington (Verily).

Register for AdvaMed’s Virtual MedTech Conference. Check out Deloitte's exhibitor space and explore the Future of Health and its impact on #MedTech. Find out how #COVID may alter the path to the future and be sure to share your perspectives by taking our poll. #MedTechCon


1.  Becker’s Hospital Review, Ochsner becomes 1st provider partner of telemedicine startup Hims & Hers, December 17, 2019

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Glenn Snyder

Glenn Snyder

Medical Technology Segment Leader

Glenn leads Deloitte LLP's Medical Technology practice with more than 25 years of experience in medical technology, biotech, and specialty pharmaceuticals. He helps clients grow through organic and inorganic means by entering new geographic markets, and expanding into new product/service areas. Glenn also helps clients improve brand/commercial effectiveness by articulating product economic value, applying innovative pricing, updating the commercial model, and rationalizing distribution networks.