The fields of healthcare and technology are continuously evolving and merging to create exciting possibilities in medical device innovation. The proliferation of wearable devices, remote health monitoring, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotics are creating medical developments to mirror the growing consumer needs. And according to the Medical Device Predictions 2023 report by GlobalData, innovation will be the deciding factor in the success and survival of leading medical device companies by 2030.
“The pace of innovation has increased in the past few years, and even more so since the onset of the COVID pandemic,” says Cacie McDorman, PhD, engineering manager, BU Medical NAFTA at leading medical wire-based component manufacturer Alleima. Improved technology and the introduction of rapid prototyping into R&D has helped speed up the development process. Medical devices are now in the same world as technology, as far as consumer expectations with new software features and improved capabilities.”
What’s the next big innovation?
In the post-pandemic era, the demand for digitalised medical devices and remote patient monitoring systems continues to rise steadily. Healthcare manufacturers that are ahead of the curve are utilising cloud-based technologies and portable devices anticipating a boom in the field of digital therapeutics (DTx) and precision medicine.
From remote surgery to streamlining clinical trial designs and more, AI and ML also have the potential to lead medical device innovations, and GlobalData estimates that the AI industry will be worth $93bn in 2023. In particular, the use of robots in the healthcare sector in sync with ML technology has led to improved patient outcomes.
“ML is also currently used in things like insulin dosing machines, which dose patients with insulin before experiencing physiological reactions. This type of ML is heavily influencing innovations in healthcare. It not only allows for proactive treatment but also more individualised treatment,” adds McDorman.
So, while manufacturers continue to push the envelope on innovative medical concepts, the success of the sector also hinges on how well it handles the challenges at this juncture.
Striking a balance
While the innovative progress in the medical sector is on the upswing, manufacturers and med tech companies are still facing obstacles.
Many medical device manufacturers rely on suppliers and sub-suppliers for the finished product, so delays in the supply chain are inevitable. This in turn slows down the R&D process of creating samples, and prototypes. It can be difficult, then, to control the timeline of when the product hits the market.
Pricing pressures and regulatory changes, meanwhile, present more impediments in the field of medical device innovation. But the key to tackling these issues is forming innovation partnerships. Manufacturers that are experienced in regulatory know-how and have a robust supply chain will be better equipped to advance medical device innovation.
A step forward
A one-stop-shop approach such as Alleima’s can be crucial to tackling the issues in medical device innovation. Alleima manufactures made-to-order custom medical wire, wire-based components, and nitinol instruments that are widely used in remote patient monitoring systems. According to McDorman: “Alleima is helping to alleviate these issues by offering added services to our Exera® medical wire such as stranding, coiling, grinding, braiding, cutting to length, stripping, and forming.
“Our expert engineering team works closely with our customers to provide them with exactly what they need for their medical devices. Our engineers are not afraid of the impossible. We have helped various customers achieve their end-product when others could not.”
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