Medtech companies are well-positioned to drive the future of health, but most cannot do it alone. They should instead partner with consumer technology and specialized digital health companies to meet the changing market.
THE future of health is expected to be driven by an omnipresent, proactive, and integrated system of health and well-being where transformational technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud storage, augmented and virtual reality, and so on) are poised to play a huge role.
When it comes to medtech, we expect medical devices to meld hardware and software to allow customers to diagnose and perhaps even treat medical conditions at home. And as health care’s focus moves toward prevention instead of treatment, the future devices may alert care teams about potential health issues before they become symptomatic through always-on sensors. As medtech companies’ business models are likely to change dramatically, they should consider collaborating with technology companies to address the increasingly changing needs and expectations of consumers.
To find out what the medtech company of the future will look like (and more), the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions conducted a crowdsourcing simulation with experts across digital health startups, medtech companies, technology companies, health plans, health systems, and research institutions.
One finding from our research is that medtech companies could differentiate themselves through their ability to harness data gathered by their devices and use it to improve well-being, anticipate health issues, and help patients change the day-to-day behaviors that affect their health. In many ways, the data collected from hardware is expected to be more valuable than the hardware itself. Medtech companies, which have traditionally focused on developing hardware (e.g., surgical equipment, joint replacements, diagnostic equipment, infusion pumps, pacemakers, etc.), might have to shift their focus to software, data collection, and data analysis.
This shift in focus from hardware to software would mean that the medtech company of the future will face intense competition from consumer technology companies. They should also deliver products that embrace new care models. They should be prepared to innovate across the complete patient journey. And while there are some areas in which medtech companies are likely to drive innovation, such as robotics, there are others where they should partner, such as virtual reality.
Beyond product offerings, medtech companies are also positioned to help hospitals and health systems make the transition to the future of health through services. Medtech companies could play a significant role in reducing medical costs, optimizing surgeon performance, and improving patient outcomes in the near term through services such as remote patient monitoring, data storage and integration, and improving clinical efficiency.
Medtech companies that successfully incorporate some, or all, of these services can help move the main point of care outside the acute hospital setting and transition the health sector toward prevention and early intervention, a key shift enabling the future of health.
With such a strong focus on software, medtech companies should consider partnering with consumer-focused technology and specialized digital health companies to stay relevant in the future of health.1 These companies have advanced capabilities, including the ability to collect, store, and analyze vast amounts of health data generated by medical devices (and other sources of vast amounts of data), as well as deep insights on what motivates and engages consumers.
Medtech companies may have their reservations in treading this path. Possible fears concerning data security and outside players gaining access to their intellectual property (IP) are valid. Our view is that it is possible for them to have proper data security measures in place to protect the Fort Knox that is their IP and join hands with consumer technology companies to create a win-win situation for both. If they choose not to, new entrants and/or their existing competitors likely will.
Tag-teaming with consumer technology companies can not only help medtech companies to pin down and defeat disease effectively in the future but also enjoy a host of other benefits. In a future that will likely be increasingly customer-centric, partnership with consumer tech companies can help medtech companies get closer to the consumers and gauge their pulse more effectively (literally and figuratively). Besides, medtech companies stand to gain from partnerships with consumer tech companies in terms of a meaningful give-and-take of expertise, improved operational efficiency, a stronger sense of data analysis, enhanced well-being and care delivery, and care enablement. Similarly, although consumer-focused technology companies have access to a large customer footprint and data, they likely lack the deep industry knowledge and the credibility with physicians that leading medtech companies have. Both players could complement one another.
To learn more about what the future holds for medtech companies and how they can change the future of health together with consumer tech companies, read our full report, Winning in the future of medtech: Novel partnerships with consumer tech to transform care delivery.
The health industry is on the cusp of a major transformation that will affect all stakeholders. Incumbent players can either lead this transformation as innovative and well-connected market leaders, or they can try to resist this inevitable change. A wide range of companies—from inside and outside of the health care sector—are already making strategic investments that could form the foundation for a future of health that is defined by radically interoperable data, open and secure platforms, and consumer-driven care.