It’s after Labour Day now: the kids are back to school, and everyone is back from their summer adventures. The temperature has dropped dramatically, school buses are now something I have to avoid on my morning commute again, and the GO trains and subway are decidedly more crowded. Fall is in the air here in Toronto.

As everyone (in the northern hemisphere anyway) starts a new school year, I thought I’d compile a few things that the medtech needs to learn this year. Unfortunately, they won’t find these answers in a textbook.

  1. Who am I targeting? This is a big question, and unfortunately, not one that can be easily solved. There is a whole convergence of trends here. Firstly, purchasing power has shifted in favor of hospital CFOs rather than physicians for a number of devices, placing much more emphasis on cost-effectiveness rather than factors such as ease-of-use or customer service. Companies that have traditionally offered “physician preference” items are having to rethink their approach, particularly in the large US market. At the same time, patients are becoming more invested in their own care as they become more connected with providers and fellow patients through the Internet and apps that allow them to track their own health. In more cases now, patients are approaching providers with a specific treatment in mind. Companies need to consider what’s out there in the wonderful world of Google when a patient looks up their device. Marketing teams need to regroup and rethink who the stakeholders are that really matter to them.
  2. Do we need cybersecurity? This is a question that has been lingering in the background for some time for medtech. As technology becomes more advanced, the possibility that someone with malicious intentions could “hack” a medical device like a pacemaker is becoming more of a possibility. While this only affects a small sector of medtech—those with electronic capabilities—the damage that could potentially stem from this is substantial. In fact, infusion pumps were recently flagged as a possible way for hackers to get into a hospital’s network. Going forward, the number of devices with electronic capabilities is also likely to increase.
  3. What’s happening with transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR)? This has been in the news a lot lately, as a whole host of cardiovascular companies jumped on the TMVR bandwagon, snatching up little-heard-of companies like Twelve. However, TMVR is fairly untested so far. With all of these recent investments in the technology, it might be the make-or-break year for this technique. Companies currently manufacturing therapies aimed at mitral valve repair (both surgical and transcatheter) will certainly be watching with interest—and there has been a lot of interesting activity in that realm too. While we’re at it, maybe we should figure out which acronym we should be using as well.

This is a drop in the bucket of the questions out there, but certainly ones that are important and under consideration. After all, even though those of us working in the medtech world have graduated from college, university, etc…we can’t stop learning just yet.

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