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Medical Device Industry Trends For 2021

For 2021, technological advances will accelerate the transformation of the medical device industry and present new opportunities as well as new challenges. In this article, I will present the major trends that will have an impact on the medical device industry in 2021

 

2020 proved to be a very interesting year for global medical device companies. From Medtronic’s release of their Puritan Bennett™ 980 ventilators in the fight against COVID-19 to Stryker’s acquisition of Wright Medical Group with the price tag of  $5.4 Billion, the global medical device industry was less affected by the global pandemic.

Now, the abovementioned two examples refer to the biggest companies in the medical device and medtech industries. The picture becomes more nuanced when looking at medium-sized medical device companies.

Here is the current status of the industry:

  • The sector has historically grown by 4,5 % in compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2015, which declined in 2020 by -3.2%
  • However, that is expected to rebound in 2021 with 6.1% (CAGR).

Looking at the numbers, the industry is in good shape, overall. One of the drivers behind the growth was historically increased use of technology. Digital transformation will continue to shape the future of the industry, and even more so in the coming years.

Now that we have entered 2021, there are quite a few important digital trends to know. But what are the most important?

These three trends are the most significant for medical device companies to focus on:

 

  • 1. Developments in wireless technology!

Smaller devices and computing power has the potential to change the landscape of interconnected devices. New technologies such as smart sensors, smart devices, and other lightweight communication devices are referred to as IoMT (Internet of Medical Things). The data collected, analyzed, and shared with healthcare organizations potentially presents an additional revenue source for medical device companies, big and small. At this point, many companies are looking at their business models and identifying ways to integrate IoMT to offer this service to healthcare organizations.

 

  • 2. Cybersecurity!

Back in 2017, I predicted that “handling potential security breaches and preparing for virtual attacks should be the number 1 concern for both big and smaller Medical Device and MedTech companies.That threat has not diminished. The use of connected devices will continue to increase across the industry, and the threat of cybersecurity breaches is an even bigger risk today than 4 years ago. Cybersecurity vulnerabilities in medical devices can be exploited to gain unauthorized access to data on – or transmitted by – devices, networks, and upstream and downstream IT systems. With this access, threat actors can steal patient information, manipulate data, exploit providers, hold information for ransom, alter patient treatment plans, and/or manipulate connected devices to harm patients that use them. Taking proactive measures to protect against these threats remains a top focus.

 

  • 3. Enabling the digital thread across the enterprise!

Managing master data is one of the biggest challenges, especially for smaller and medium-sized medical device companies. Being able to transform old, manual processes into connected processes – evolving from the document and binder-stage to the connected data-stage – is ever-important. For companies to keep up with increased demand for existing products and get new products to market faster, as well as exploiting technological advances like connected data exchange with external partners, digital is a must.

It is critical to control and master your product master data from different data bases, e.g. to ensure better product control, make better reports and analysis, prepare documentation for submission, and much more. At the same time, the digital thread, also known as data traceability, enables the ability to quickly gather and share data, either internally across the enterprise or to collaborators in the extended supply chain. Of course, looking for a common platform for dealing with data is not a new thing. However, the importance of having more than a repository on a solid data platform is increasingly important.

 

To sum it up:

When we look at the top 3 technology trends for the Medical Device Industry, they are very much aligned with other industries that are forced to keep up with technological advances to gain a competitive advantage, or even to stay in business.

However, it is my experience that for most Medical Device companies, there is still a lot of work to be done before they have an infrastructure that can embrace the digital thread.

One of the things that is keeping these companies from building the right infrastructure for digital transformation is the fact that most Medical Device companies still use manual processes in many critical business processes. When managing regulatory documentation such as DHF/DMR, quality, etc., there is widespread use of manual data collection, physical paper, and manual signatures.

Maybe it is about time to consider changing some of these manual processes?

2021 is going to be an exciting year. I am looking forward to seeing how these 3 trends will have an impact on the industry.

As always, you can contact me at tsk@minerva-plm.com if you want to know more about the benefits of new technology, digital transformation, and industry-specific solutions that are flexible enough to support anything the future may throw at you.

 

About the author

Thomas Skogen

Thomas is an expert in Supply Chain and Manufacturing Optimization with more than 10 years of experience originating from Medical Device and High-Tech & Electronic Industries. He comes with a background as an Electronics engineer, complemented with a Master in Technology Management. Thomas has held positions in multinational corporations such as Nilfisk, heading the internal optimization program as well as the supply chain organization.

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