The medical device industry has undergone numerous innovations throughout its history. A robust and expansive market, the medical device sector assists healthcare professionals in diagnosing, treating, and preventing measures for patients. At Altus, we fit into that market by creating contemporary workstations that support optimal ergonomic function, which leads to an increased workflow and productivity for clinicians, and ultimately better care for patients.
Our industry, like many others, has had to be creative in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between scarce resources, hiccups in the supply chain, and a race against the clock, manufacturers have had to develop new solutions to meet the ever-growing need in the market. Yet, the medical device industry is resilient. We are constantly searching for new ways to create better products for healthcare workers and the patients they serve.
What will the medical device industry look like in the future? Keep reading to see what the top trends for the medical device industry are for 2024.
#1 An Increase in IoT Devices and Applications
Web-based technology has traveled beyond the use of smartphones and tablets to include a more interconnected approach with the Internet of Things (IoT). This system seeks to connect digital devices to healthcare monitoring, which has revolutionized the way that clinicians and patients view their healthcare.
The number of IoT devices has steadily increased over the years. McKinsey & Company estimated that 25% of businesses utilize IoT devices.
Think about the IoT as a web-based universe that connects patient information, data, and needs directly to the healthcare provider, from anywhere. But what do these devices look like?
They range in objects, including:
- Air quality sensors
- Sleep sensors
- Biometrics scanners to enable remote work
- Drug effectiveness metrics
- Medical data-transferring tools
IoT integrates smart devices into the patient-care routine, which keeps people better connected, increases virtual monitoring, automates workflow, reduces errors, and streamlines cars.
This method will be especially effective for remote care, which is anticipated to rise in the coming years. IoT can also be useful for elderly patients, so they don’t have to go to the doctor’s office to refill prescriptions and can access remote tools to monitor their health. This is just one example of the many changes happening in the remote patient monitoring space, and IoT initiatives are likely to play a significant role in that development.
#2 Sophisticated RTLS Tracking
RTLS, or real-time location service, is a technology that allows the tracking of medical equipment, staff, and patients in actual time. RTLS has many solutions in both active and passive types that use tags and badges, hardware, and technology (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Infrared) to boost quality and productivity. While an already established market, RTLS is projected to grow from $3.4 billion in 2020 to $10.3 billion in 2025, according to the RTLS Marketing report.
It seeks to help hospital personnel effectively manage their assets so hospitals don’t over-purchase or lose precious resources. According to nurses today, tracking valuable medical equipment like workstations is among the most desirable traits in new technology. We expect this trend to grow into other pieces of hospital technology as well.
Enhanced cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting measures will become even more omnipresent throughout the pandemic. Using the correct supplies and proper cleaning tactics in COVID-19 will be able to be tracked via RTLS based on who goes in what room and when.
#3 Broader Focus on Quality Management
Quality over quantity: this tried and true method will still ring true in 2024, especially in the case of medical supplies and devices. With increased spending during the coronavirus, hospitals are strapped for cash. The American Hospital Association projects a $323 billion financial loss due to COVID-19 in 2020-2021, meaning hospitals need to make sound investments. They can’t afford to purchase new equipment each year and need durable and dependable equipment with a long life span.
This emphasis on quality will force the device industry to make intentional updates to their products to best function in medical settings today. Workstations, for example, will need to be durable, easy to clean, employ enhanced mobility and flexibility functions, and support these new technologies like Telehealth, IoT, and RTLS.
#4 Operate Around a U.S-Based Supply Chain System
While international trade will always be a vital component of the U.S. economy, the manufacturing crisis spurred by COVID-19 incited the need for companies to keep the supply chain local.
The virus nearly stopped the healthcare supply chain in its tracks, not only presenting hurdles for items to get from one point to another but more importantly a global shortage of PPE products and risk of cross-contamination in the shipping process. As a result: the supply, production, shipping, and packaging have all been affected by this change.
How can these issues be solved? One way is to refocus the supply chain on U.S. soil. For example, our workstations at Altus are all American-built. This feature allowed us to epitomize our core value of “Customer First” throughout this crisis, both manufacturing and delivering products where needed.
Companies without this feature experienced a shortage and struggled to provide hospitals with the equipment they needed. Therefore, hospitals are looking to partner with companies with a proven supply chain, and a U.S.-based system has been more reliable in times of crisis and calm.
#5 Re-kindled Focus on Cybersecurity
Sensitive data, systems, and processes must be protected from hackers in our digital era. Not surprisingly, hospitals are a prime target for cybercrime. The American Medical Association found that nearly 80% of medical practices have experienced a cyberattack, and COVID-19 is only adding fuel to the flames. USA Today reported that IBM recorded a 6,000% increase in spam attacks between March and April of 2020, with healthcare facilities being the prime victim.
How can healthcare facilities better ward against these damaging data breaches?
- Implement sophisticated software and defense systems.
- Alter the way they approach passwords (change them often, don’t use the same one for everything, and store them in a safe place).
- Don’t ignore software updates.
- Implement staff training on phishing email scams and other software protection.
Your equipment must be as safe as possible. Manufacturers have an added responsibility to create equipment with built-in protections, and best practices to keep data out of the wrong hands.
#6 The Widespread Use of 5G Networks
5G is becoming increasingly valuable in the healthcare industry, especially in the boom of Telehealth services. FAIR Health’s monthly regional tracker found that Telehealth claims went up by 8,300% in April 2020, and that number is only to remain high. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) already loosened restrictions on telehealth initiatives, including expanded access to virtual care as well as better physician payment models.
With the increasing demand for Telehealth models and other technologies in the healthcare space, establishing a proper connection becomes a vital component for effective delivery.
5G network capability and compatibility will play an important role in the delivery of healthcare in the future. It will extend connectivity and access for hospitals, facilities, and patients, especially in rural areas. It will allow large amounts of data to be transmitted quickly, which has the power to improve communication, treatment, and prevention from the ambulance to the E.R. to regular check-ups to real-time health monitoring.
#7 Commitment to the Patient Experience
The healthcare industry seeks to optimize the health and well-being of every patient. In the device industry, it’s our responsibility to continue to make innovative solutions to improve the experience of our customers and the patients they serve. Manufacturers need to think about how their product interacts with and enhances new technologies, prioritizes ergonomic function, advances workflow, and raises productivity.
At Altus, we are doing this by:
- Creating virtual visitor carts with both tablet and LCD monitor options
- Reducing workstation weight with iPad-compatible docks, improved wheel technology, and strong chargers.
- Implementing dual-screen capabilities for better access to both clinicians and patients.
2024 will likely bring about the extensive use of technologies that have been circulating on the perimeter for years. Properly leveraging that technology will be crucial for the medical device industry to keep meeting the ever-growing need. We are looking to the future and are looking forward to new solutions that will significantly impact hospitals and how they serve patients.