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Technology Advisor – Trends shaping medical devices

March 17, 2017
From the March 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Bipin Thomas

Global advancements have changed the way we provide and receive health care. Early diagnosis, quick surgical procedures, reduced postoperative hospital stays, painless treatments and various innovative solutions have become norms of providing health care. These developments and solutions have been crafted by many players such as health experts, technology experts, research houses and consumer communities. The following are trends shaping medical devices today, and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Home is the health care hub
The very atmosphere of home cures many. This common mind-set of patients has triggered the need for easy-to-use home health care devices. The wireless home-care device segment alone is expected to touch $6 billion by 2017 in the U.S. This market is growing in the form of various new applications of smart medical devices such as remote patient monitoring, miniaturized ultra-low power devices, zero-defect reliability, and all-in-one devices are some of the most popular advanced device traits and technologies addressing the home health care market.

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Noninvasive devices
People don’t want to spend countless days in the hospital. But after surgery, they don’t have a choice because their bodies need time to heal. It is circumstances like this that led organizations in the health care industry to conduct research and develop treatment procedures, and devices to enable them, and to offer minimally invasive treatments to patients. Drug-eluting stents and capsule endoscopy units are some of the well-known devices that enable doctors to perform surgeries in a minimally invasive manner. Simple home health care devices, like a blood glucose meter, are becoming noninvasive. You don’t have to prick fingers every time you want to measure blood glucose levels.

Reverse innovation
In the developing world, expensive devices leading to expensive treatments may be frowned upon. This has encouraged organizations to think outside the box and develop products and solutions that bear the same functionality, but can be produced and sold at lower price points. Reverse innovation refers to an innovative development first seen or developed and used in the developing world, and then taken to the developed markets. An excellent case is GE Healthcare India’s portable ECG machine. Originally targeted at and developed for the rural Indian market, it is now being marketed in the Western world. Reverse innovation is set to become a revolution, so much so that GE says that it has “disrupted itself.”

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