What trends can we expect to emerge in the medtech market in 2016?
There’s no doubt that this will be an exciting year for technology and it will be no different in the medtech market. If you compile a list of all the emerging trends that we are aware of and consolidate them into different themes, you find six key areas of future medical technology that we expect to see boom:
Thrombolytic drugs are an effective therapy for ischaemic strokes but are hazardous in their own right, and the key to administering the medication to the right patients quickly is a rapid stroke detection/diagnosis system. A small number of companies are working on speculative but innovative solutions for this specific problem and, if successful, these will have a powerful impact on the standard of care – and on health economics, in general.
Several medical procedures are performed ‘blind’ or partially blind, for example, injections, ablations and resections – and we’ve already seen the introduction of technologies to guide the surgeon in those. The potential medical applications of these technologies are broad, with pain relief, cancer ablation, atrial fibrillation and endometrial ablation just a few examples of their possible use.
With progressively more advanced and multiplexed DNA tests available to the pathologist, diagnosis can increasingly be tailored to the individual patient. For example, great strides are being made in distinguishing the original DNA mutation of a cancer, and future medical technology may enable the diagnosis and drugs to extend to more than just the DNA. The Technology Partnership has been active in streamlining the sample preparation processes for these DNA tests, which often involves accurate automation of complex microfluidic steps in a low-cost consumable device.
Several areas of the healthcare industry, ranging from pharmaceutical giants to cytometry organisations, are making advances in stem-cell therapy. Sterility is a key challenge in this field, where every material that comes into contact with the sample should ideally be disposable. As a future medical technology, expect to see stem-cell handling tools reinvented so that they are disposable and far more economical.
Ultrasound imaging is becoming more affordable, partly due to new ultra-portable systems that may become as ubiquitous as the common stethoscope. Most of the international ultrasound giants – and several exciting new startups – are addressing this potentially game-changing gap in the market, offering systems that plug into the clinician’s own smartphone or tablet: this capitalises on improvements in the performance of tablets, as well as providing innovative solutions to regulatory hurdles. One key obstacle to this future medical technology is training and clinician confidence, plus the sheer scale of such a revolution in the healthcare industry.
Many innovations are emerging in this area. Angioplasty merely attempts to push plaque outwards, and stents and grafts result in the implantation of a foreign body, but atherectomy aims to cleanly remove plaque from the body. Assuming reimbursement rates remain reasonable, a new frontier in atherectomy will be the monitoring of the plaque-removal process, which would generally be undertaken ‘blind’. While chronic total occlusions have benefited from an increasing array of surgical tools in recent years, eccentric plaques present a new range of challenges. For example, stents will often recoil, and drug-eluting stents are prone to attacking healthy endothelial cells. New solutions include directional therapies, which can benefit from intravascular directional alignment technology.
The Technology Partnership (TTP) is a world leader in technology and product development. TTP works closely with its clients to create disruptive products based on advances in technology and engineering innovation.
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