1. Healthcare is shifting to an anticipatory and prevention model
As the healthcare industry transitions into the next wave of change, we will quickly move from a diagnostic and intervention model, to in anticipatory and prevention model. What this means in terms of value-based healthcare, is that the first automatic trigger mechanism for healthcare will be how do we eliminate interventions.
Economic incentives across the medical device industry have already started to shift. For example, if a 65-year-old patient presents themselves with chronic knee pain, and they are 60 pounds overweight, reimbursement structures will mandate weight loss prior to the approval of knee surgery. The weight loss may in fact resolve the chronic pain while concurrently eliminating the risk of other chronic disease.
The key is that new reimbursement structures are specifically designed to reduce the consumption of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The best organizations in the medical device industry are addressing this by building out “future casting” activities that tie in directly to their New Product Development (NPD) activities. In my 40-year career as a medical technologist, I was always targeting the reimbursement profile of an innovation. Today, medical device innovators need to shift their invention targets to align with value-based healthcare and value transparency.
2. Healthcare systems need to identify new ways to reduce waste
There is a massive shift across healthcare systems to identify ways to reduce waste. The reduction in waste is now targeting consumable and sterile technologies. Medical device companies should pay attention to how they can address these trends. One area that is beginning to gain traction is the concept of “Re-disposables,” in other words, technologies that were historically disposable one-time use, that can now be reused. Medical device designers are now also developing technologies to significantly reduce packaging material, multi-functional technologies to reduce stocking units and many other innovative ways to address the big shift to cost-containment.
3. Manufacturing is being decentralized by 3D printing tech
Another concept that many medical device developers are looking at, including myself, is the concept of decentralization of manufacturing. In the future, medical devices will be shipped to hospitals and clinics as an STL file that destroys after one use. This allows the medical device company to dispense the device instantaneously and thereby eliminates the need for large stock. The future of 3D printing is consistent with the decentralization of virtually all aspects of healthcare. We are now using technologies like butterfly, which connects to your smart phone so the doctors can do ultrasonic scanning affordably in their office. Disruptive innovators are inventing machines the size of a vending machine that can produce hundreds of generic medicines for pennies on the dollar within hospitals and clinics. This trend will definitely find its way to the medical device industry.
Future 3D printers will print medical devices and assemble them on the 3D printer build plate. Once built, the system will conduct any subassembly that’s required, which can include a combination of thermoplastics and elastomeric materials. Once printed and assembled, the printer will go through a validation process and the product will be ready for use.
I know much of this is hard to fathom, and what I find is that most of us who have been in healthcare for decades are holding tight to our legacy view of healthcare. In my book, The Innovation Mandate, I researched thousands of the best brands in the world. I discovered that the best organizations in the world are led by CEOs that are brave enough to look beyond the current state.
Nicholas Webb, author of The Innovation Mandate, is a healthcare technologist and medical device inventor. He has been awarded over 40 US patents for technologies ranging from one of the world’s smallest medical implants to one of the first wearable technologies. Webb also serves as the chief innovation officer and as an adjunct professor at WesternU, one of the most comprehensive health science universities in the country. As the CEO of LeaderLogic LLC., Webb works with some of the top brands across healthcare to help them build future ready enterprises. As a professional speaker, Webb speaks at over 70 healthcare events around the world each year.