David Dobson

Mobile Device Platforms and their Effect on the Cost of Healthcare Delivery

As Bob Dylan sang many years ago…”The times they are a-changin’”.   What was true for him in 1964, is also true for those developing medical devices over the next few years.  From onerous new regulatory requirements to the scarcity of investment capital, aging demographics, and new governments and their policies, many factors are causing a sizable shift in what types of medical devices will be developed in the coming years.

Gone are the days when hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on expensive capital equipment and medical device technologies that prolonged life for only a few months.  Investments that once served to outfit large healthcare institutions with wonderfully beneficial but expensive and complex medical devices are now shifting towards a new reality – fewer dollars are available to serve a greater number of people.  This new focus is causing healthcare authorities to transfer the responsibility of one’s personal health management from the professional practitioner to the individual.  The short answer is…more responsibility will be placed on the patient.

This shift has enormous impact on companies wanting to develop medtech products.  As you can imagine, there are a ton of companies out there developing all kinds of nifty devices that will take various biometric readings from the body and communicate this data via handhelds and other platforms to a centralized location for reading, diagnosis…and even recommendations on treatment.  It’s becoming increasingly true that apps and connectivity will ‘play big’ in the future when it comes to the delivery of healthcare (at least for the next 10 years).

Various technologies are being developed that will enable the individual to track /monitor their own health in real time…and gain almost instant feedback to changing conditions – feedback that will drive changes in lifestyle and possibly treatment.

This change not only impacts the end users of medtech technology…but also those who have traditionally made a living from a high margin, high profit industry.  No longer will the professional (both physician and medical device salesperson) determine who gets what service.  Forget the referral to a specialist…the direct to consumer model – via the internet and other channels – will drive adoption and sales.

If you are a technology company contemplating entering this market, consider the following information:

  • Companies that bundle services and solutions (hardware and software) will be the winners in this game
  • The big medtech players will not have a significant advantage.   Tech companies of all sizes are rushing into this space and a few of them will reap significant rewards
  • The focus will be on patients and payers
  • New technologies and platforms are highly efficient.  They will be designed to leverage the expertise of a few very skilled, highly knowledgeable healthcare professionals across many patients
  • And most importantly, the successful devices will be the ones that drive cost out of the system

The question is…with all these businesses and their various technologies trying to gain a foothold in the market, what companies and platforms are going to come out on top?  What will be the key differentiators that will ensure success?  Will security of information be the special feature that drives adoption or will usability be the deciding factor that distinguishes one company from the other?

Another thing to consider is regulatory compliance.  Mobile device OEMs are notorious for the frequency with which they change their platforms, both in terms of operating systems and even when it comes to electrical and mechanical configurations.  How can a platform that changes every 6 months possibly be a stable environment to build on and gain approval for a medical device?

We at Starfish Medical recognize this major shift in priorities and investment.  That’s why we’ve decided to get out in front of these developments and build a methodology and capability for effectively working in this space.  It starts with our Pathfinder©  process – our way of uncovering insight, sifting through the maze of options, making sense of conflicting evidence and determining the best way forward.   This new capability, targeted specifically towards mobile device platforms, will build on our existing infrastructure and will ultimately help us to deliver to our customers, targeted and appropriate hardware and software solutions that can drive real change in the healthcare system.

If you want to be a part of the ground swell of change that is taking place in the delivery of healthcare services then you need to find a partner who understands this space and knows how to effectively execute.   Starfish Medical is just that kind of company.  If you want to talk more, I can be reached at 250.940.2434.

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