By Karen Taylor, Director, Centre for Health Solutions and Michel De Ridder, Partner, Deloitte Belgium, Regulatory compliance
Last week my colleague Michel De Ridder and I participated in the annual MedTech Europe Forum 2021, where we delivered a presentation on our Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions research report 'Predicting the future of healthcare and life sciences in 2025: The future unmasked'. Our focus was on our sixth prediction 'MedTech and the IOMT are crucial drivers of value-based care'. However, we also discussed the implications of findings in our November 2020 research paper, ‘Winning in the future of MedTech’, underpinned by our global campaign on the Future of Health.i Following our presentation, we ran an ‘Ask the expert session’ to discuss emerging issues in relation to IP management. This week’s blog highlights the main themes that we discussed and explores the implications for MedTech companies’ role in the future of health.
MedTech drivers that will influence the role of the industry in the future of health?
In 2025, we expect that MedTech and connected medical devices will be crucial drivers of value-based care, deploying transformative technologies to enhance their products and services to enable more predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory (4P) medicine. Companies will also use sophisticated data analytics capabilities, working closely with end users, to leverage new cognitive and robotic technologies to provide evidence of improved outcomes for patients. MedTech companies will also partner with consumer-focused technology companies, benefitting from their experience of brand development, customer engagement and advanced analytics. Some MedTech companies are already becoming ‘Software as a Service’ providers for selected groups of patients, but by 2025 many more will be targeting preventative care at specific patient groups.ii
Our prediction draws on the Deloitte research that was conducted for our ‘Winning in the future of MedTech’ report which envisages six new MedTech roles for the industry (see Figure 1). Moreover, it considers what MedTech companies need to do to benefit from digital transformation, whether it’s adapting their existing business models, inventing new ones or both. For this to happen, company leaders will need to acquire new capabilities and skills to match their organisations to the roles that are most suited to them and their products, including their ability to demonstrate to providers and payers how connected medical devices contribute to the new value-based paradigm.
Figure 1. MedTech and the IoMT are crucial drivers of value-based care (six new MedTech roles have emerged)
Source: Deloitte LLP
While the MedTech industry has been experiencing exponential changes in the pace of technological disruption for a number of years, the future of health will be driven by an omnipresent, proactive, and integrated system of health and well-being where transformational technologies (such as AI, quantum computing, cloud storage, augmented and virtual reality) are poised to play a growing role. However, the pace of change envisaged in our future of health campaign has been accelerated by the COVIDF-19 pandemic by at least seven years.
Specifically, the pandemic has accelerated the use of connected medical devices enabling individuals to record their behaviour, get an online diagnosis and manage their health more efficiently, without having to leave their homes. Virtual consultation technologies have been scaled dramatically to help clinicians diagnose, monitor and care for patients remotely while reducing the risk of infection. Wearable technology has magnified the added value provided by IoMT technology, providing patients, carers and HCPs with numerous real-time data points about the patient’s activity and vital signs. Last, but not least, the IoMT has also played a crucial role in ‘test, track and trace’ to curb the spread of COVID-19 by creating a virtual perimeter using GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth signal, and cellular network.iii By 2025, medical devices that meld hardware and software will help drive the development of a new value-based care paradigm.
The regulatory and cyber implications
The increase in technology innovation brings with it new regulatory and cyber implications, especially as connected medical devices are collecting vast amounts of data about individuals and are also used to influence various aspects of their health. This has created an extremely complex landscape involving an ecosystem of trusted partnerships, innovative products and services providers and new risk management and controls (Figure 2). Indeed, for the predictions to be realised, there is a need to create a high level of assurance and trust for patients and business partners. More than ever, trust will be an important driver to make the future of health work as novel partnerships exchange data and rely on each other to provide holistic care for patients.
Figure 2. Risk management and controls for MedTech innovation
Focus on building a reliable risk-based framework
Source: Deloitte LLP
Building and maintaining robust and responsive systems requires the establishment of partnership clusters that are well positioned to tackle the challenge and drive global excellence. Indeed mutually beneficial collaborations within and between countries as well as with non -traditional stakeholders will become increasingly important as will the need to build a resilient infrastructure including a well-qualified workforce and effective IT systems.
The implications for intellectual property management
At the MedTech Europe Forum, as well as discussing our predictions for the industry, we also held a session on intellectual property (IP) management to provide insight into patenting trends in Europe and to highlight evolutions in MedTech patenting compared to other industry sectors. We discussed how patent landscaping helps identify emerging technologies and reveal disruptive new players in a particular field. These insights provide a basis for orienting innovation activities and setting up technology partnerships. However, extra cost pressure due to the pandemic will require IP organisations to join efforts in lowering budgets. Instead of choosing for a reduction of the IP portfolio, it may be worth considering options that allow resource savings while safeguarding future value creation from IP.
Importantly, medical technology was top of the table of statistics from the European Patent Office in 2020, with regard to the number of applications which increased by 2.6 per cent compared to 2019.iv Other fields with high growth rates in 2020 were pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, showing a strong growth in healthcare patenting overall. More specifically, in 2019 digital communication topped the charts at the European Patent Office, with an increase in applications of 19.6 per cent compared to 2018. Medical technology was a close second.
COVID-19 has revealed how vulnerable the health care industry is to change and its need for structural and technological transformation. In the future of health, we expect six key areas—data sharing, interoperability, equitable access, empowered consumers, behaviour change, and scientific breakthrough—to collectively transform the existing health system from treatment-based reactionary care to prevention and well-being. The traditional boundaries of the industry will dissolve and new roles will emerge in the future of health as exponential innovation propels the industry towards 2040. This has created the perfect storm for MedTech companies to become a crucial driver of the future of health. Importantly, the pandemic has highlighted the significance of MedTech’s involvement in large-scale partnerships to both mobilise and coordinate public and private efforts to tackle global public health threats.
The foundations created during the pandemic mean that by 2025 we expect care to be truly integrated, value-based and patient-centric. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly brought forward a digital-first healthcare system enabled by medical technologies. While MedTech companies are well-positioned to drive this vision of the future, most cannot do it alone, and need to partner with consumer technology and specialised digital health companies to optimise the chances of success and deliver the required patient benefits. These partnerships with MedTech companies and their connected medical devices will be at the centre of a new value-based care ecosystem.
You can also listen to the latest episode in our Life Sciences Connect podcast to find out more about the trends transforming the MedTech industry: Episode #9: What is driving MedTech’s transformation?