The term digitalization refers to the process of converting analogue data into a digital format. Finding the best way to harness the power of digitalization is essential for any organisation. It can boost productivity, efficiency, and innovation. While most industries have embraced digitalization, the medical devices industry has lagged behind due to cybersecurity concerns, tight regulations, and added complexities specific to this industry.
Listed below are the general trends in the medical devices industry related to digitalization, as identified by GlobalData.
Patients demand portability and the ability to monitor their health at their own convenience. Thus, the use of wearable and mobile medical devices is growing. Biosensors can monitor many health indicators, including glucose levels, cardiac markers, and cancer progression.
Remote patient monitoring
The demand for remote patient monitoring is growing. It reduces the number of patients at hospitals and health centres, thereby reducing health care costs. It provides healthcare professionals with real-time information, which they can act on and use to adjust treatments, if necessary. Data can be easily shared between patients, primary caregivers, specialists, and hospitals to ensure more clear communication. Additionally, it can allow for the tracking of patient adherence, whether for medical therapy or clinical research. Portable biosensors, the internet of things (IoT), and cloud computing are some of the important digital tools to achieve this endeavour.
Precision medicine and personalised medicine
Biosensors can monitor many different health indicators and help develop treatments specific for each patient. Additionally, genetic profiling technology is essential as precision medicine develops. By profiling a patient’s genetic makeup, information about their risk factors and disease state will allow for customisable medical intervention for each individual, thereby reducing the risk of adverse effects. This technology can also allow for more preventative care as opposed to cure-based care.
There is demand to collect, store, and analyse high quantities of health data. Big data is now one of the driving forces of the healthcare industry. Connected devices can collect, store, and send information in real time. Cloud technology will allow for large amounts of storage. With the aid of AI, layers of complex data can be organised and analysed to extract insights.
However, as more data is collected, concerns about privacy and patient rights become a more prominent concern. In 2017, the UK Information Commissioner’s office found that a transfer of health records for 1.6 million patients from a London hospital to the Google’s DeepMind, an AI company, did not comply with the data protection act. Concerns were raised regarding DeepMind’s mobile app, which was undergoing testing at the time of the transfer, and that a large quantity of private health data was used for the testing process.
AI can help automate mundane tasks for physicians and accelerate decision making. There is also high demand for the automation of certain aspects of surgery and the use of robots to reduce human error.
The expansion of healthcare IoT and cloud computing in the medical devices industry is a cause for concern in regards to potential cyberattacks. The possibility of sensitive connected devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps being compromised by cyberattacks or private health data being hacked makes cybersecurity a huge topic in the medical devices industry. New threats and vulnerabilities need to be continuously monitored and addressed. Machine learning and AI can be used for continuous and real-time threat detection.
Digitalization can lead to efficiency in every part of the medical devices industry. It can be used by manufacturers to receive real-time data and gain visibility into the process. Manufacturers can also benefit from robotics and 3D printing. Additionally, AI can tackle complexities and identify trends in the industry, and cloud computing offers fast and scalable IT resources.
This is an edited extract from the Digitalization in the Medical Devices Sector – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.