As we discussed previously, some developing countries, particularly those close to Europe, are becoming increasingly attractive targets for medtech companies itching for expansion. Another article was recently brought to my attention discussing the specific medical technology that is emerging in these countries, namely, better jaundice treatments, knee replacements, wheelchairs, drug authenticity verification technology, electrocardiogram (ECG) supplies, sterilization equipment, and sanitary pads. The article emphasized the need for cheap, functional technology state-of-the-art technology tends to eat up too much energy, be too difficult to repair, cost too much, and be all around unrealistic for public health care facilities in developing countries.
Two of these areas stood out to me as particularly relevant to medtech. First, knee implant manufacturers are facing slowing growth in the US and Europe, and many have reacted by reaching into the small-joint reconstruction markets. However, for large-joint reconstructive implant manufacturers, releasing some of their simpler (possibly older) technology in developing countries could also be a viable option for expansion. Second, digital health care such as the texting system mentioned in the above article that allows consumers to identify fake drugs may be more of an opportunity in developing countries than we initially thought. This Clinica article discusses how developing countries are actually having an easier time implementing health care payment options through mobile technology because it can be incorporated at the same time as the infrastructure is developed in European countries and the US, customers and facilities are already comfortable with traditional payment models and are therefore reluctant to start making e-payments. This makes me wonder if the same might be true of other technologies, and if developing countries may therefore be able to more easily incorporate digital technology into their public health care systems because they don't really already have a strong infrastructure built around traditional models.
Food for thought, and this definitely emphasizes the fact that companies can focus on areas outside of the BRIC countries to recognize expansion. Given the recent buzz surrounding the slowdown in growth in the BRIC countries, this might not be such a bad idea.