Today’s booming digital health market offers many opportunities for medical device companies. However, as medtech seeks to develop digital solutions, companies face several challenges, shared speakers at the MD&M East keynote panel, AI Will Change Go To Market Strategy – 4 Steps For Better MedExec Women’s Product Adoption.
One challenge, for example, is that medical device companies “have been conservative followers in this space,” explains Tracy Robertson, VP, digital, for Stryker. “We’re already seeing consumers/patients demanding that the healthcare system ramp up and make it easier for them – they shop, do research, look for quality in healthcare, and they’re really going to challenge healthcare and medical technology to make it easier for them.” them.” Stryker is building a digital business, and Robertson said the company “acts like a startup in the digital space.” It looks at the voice of the customer, the voice of the organization, the voice of data, what digital foundations are needed to build applications that deliver meaningful results for customers, and more, she said. “We will have to act quickly, because time is not our friend.”
Robertson sees digital as “a way to drive better results and monetization models for our business. It’s a driver.”
“Part of the challenge is: what is digital?” orphan Stephanie Wimmer, vice president, health economics, policies and benefits, medical-surgical portfolio, Medtronic. “If you look at AI, it’s either an addition to a doctor’s service or a replacement for a doctor’s service. There are many flavors here.”
She added that “if we’re going to do the same thing and it’s ‘nice to know information’, that’s not innovation.” And “it’s building the evidence that’s critical.”
Robertson said that “any time the word ‘predictable’ is in it, it has to be ‘proven and repeatable’ — that has to be part of the equation.”
“The primary beneficiary should be the patient,” emphasizes Robin P. Blackstone, MD, FACS, global head, preclinical, clinical and medical affairs, for Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson Company. “If we show someone who does a laparoscopic procedure differently . . . patients ultimately benefit.”
So, “how do we as an industry produce something that has value and how are those costs generally shared?” she asked.
Laura Randa, CEO of Speranza Digital Therapeutics, shared several questions for innovators to answer: “What is the business model? What is the go-to-market model? Is it payers? Integrated health systems? Consumers? Employers?”
The technology also needs to be easy to use for patients, Wimmer added. “You don’t have to go to medical school to use it or a salesperson to stand there. It must be accessible to the patient.”
“Let’s talk about patient consumerism for a moment — how does it change the dynamics that we unpack here?” asked discussion moderator Laurie Halloran, President & CEO, Halloran Consulting Group and co-founder of MedExecWomen.
“First of all, think of yourself as a consumer. What has happened in the last 10 or 15 years? Everything has become easier — hopefully,” Robertson said. “We have everything at our disposal and we take that experience into the workplace and expect that of everything in our lives . . . . Healthcare and medtech don’t get ‘free from jail here ‘-Map.”
Digital health data
Data is the other crucial part. “We all need to be very data-driven — we shouldn’t be making emotional decisions,” Blackstone says. “The younger generation of surgeons are driving this data approach,” she added. “The more data we can give them, the better theoretically they can be at doing their job.”
She also asked, “Where does your data come from to fuel the AI engine? The quality of the data will determine how the AI engine can deliver a result that is valuable or not. Really pay attention to that bit of this while moving forward is an important part of the strategy.
What input is essential for the successful development of a digital health solution?
“This is when input into the development process is critical,” Blackstone says. “I’d encourage everyone in this space to get really broad input.”
Robertson added that companies “need different perspectives at the table,” including “cross-functional” input, and “you have to do it ahead of time.”
And “talk to everyone on that continuum who touches the patient,” Wimmer said. “Get that vote and make sure this incredibly elegant solution actually solves a problem someone has.”
Who will pay for digital health solutions?
“Whoever gets the value has to pay for it,” Wimmer said. “And sometimes that’s not the payer.” She also noted that using digital technology should be “in the mind of a payer” rather than “instead of” and not “additional.” . . . If it’s something that’s additive and doesn’t replace anything, that’s a real challenge for the payers.”
“The customer ecosystem is expanding,” added Robertson. “Who is the customer, who gets the value, who pays for it.”
Some final advice from panel members
“Understand where your value is and build the evidence to demonstrate that value,” Wimmer said. “If you come from a small business, protect your intellectual property. And let others advise you.”
Robertson: “Know your customer and be relentlessly focused on the customer.”
Blackstone: “Innovation, innovation, innovation. Work together: figure out where your piece of the puzzle fits and tirelessly push through with the right partners.”
Randa: “IP, trademarks – it’s moving so fast and it’s really reproducible, and it’s not as patent protected as it is for the drug industry, so get good legal advice if you’re thinking about building it.
“It’s a time of change, and it’s the most exciting time of my career, so I’m excited to be a part of it,” Randa concluded.