Earlier this year, Becker’s Hospital Review published the “Top 10 Tends from the 2016 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference” in San Francisco. Although those trends were rather comprehensive and spoke to the whole of the healthcare industry, there were certainly some that either already have influenced or will influence the top medical device design trends in 2016 and beyond.
How Medical Device Design Best Practices Reduce Healthcare Costs
“Population health and understanding cost and margins” and “managing unit cost and reducing the cost of care delivery.” Some don’t like categorizing healthcare as an “industry” because it fosters uncomfortable perspectives about patients being seen as dehumanized “customers” and clinicians, nurses, doctors and others as “labor.” However, the reality is that it takes money—and profits—to not just pay for facilities and the people that work in them, but the continued research that leads to better healthcare.
In that context, “overhead costs” such as medical devices and supplies are one of healthcare’s greatest expenses—yet one of the easiest to reduce. However, the key to being able to reduce costs is not just a matter of acquiring existing medical devices at more competitive prices, especially since the medical device market is already extremely competitive. Rather, it is during the medical device design phase that manufacturers can truly seek the competitive advantages they need to both survive and pass on to their “customers”: healthcare providers.
Last week, we wrote about medical equipment design best practices, and there is perhaps no better topic to explain how medical device design has a massive influence on reducing costs. For instance, moving an innovative (and ideally cost-saving) medical device “from concept to commercialization” depends on best practices. Any unnecessary delays with getting a product launched (such as with not being able to get regulatory clearances) hurts a medical device company’s bottom line—after all, if it can’t legally sell it, it can’t generate revenues. As a result, it must either raise the price for the new device, or perhaps spread those costs to other products already on the market.
For that matter, astute medical device engineering and design companies, such as DeviceLab must further stay keenly aware of trends that indicate increased market pressures for lower costs and be able to respond to them. Shipping weight is a prime example. Even the smallest and lightest medical devices can become remarkably heavy when packaged into boxes, cartons, cases and palettes…which translates into higher shipping costs. Or likewise, those same medical devices packages can become remarkably large items that not only can increase shipping costs, but warehousing as well.
DeviceLab is keenly aware of this, which is why we are always thinking in term of “Is there a lighter yet equally durable material we can use?” “Is there a redundant part that can be ‘designed out’ out of the final product—which not only reduces weight, but also the costs related to materials and manufacturing?”
How Medical Equipment Design Improves Access to Healthcare
“Outpatient shift” and “personalized medicine.” Although this trend again highly relates to reducing healthcare costs, it’s also simply a unique advantage of living in our modern times. Not everybody has—or needs—immediate access to emergency rooms and clinics. Rather than trying to improve the very expensive (and occasionally impossible) activity of transporting patients to healthcare providers, it’s increasingly becoming easier and much less expensive to bring healthcare providers to the patients.
This is precisely why we’ve been rapidly improving our capabilities in what we believe will be the medical device design trend in coming years: wireless medical device design that exploit the emerging Internet-of-Things (IoT) revolution. IoT/wireless medical devices essentially enable patients get urgent or long-term care because they can be better monitored and treated from “home base” facilities.
That’s not to say wireless medical equipment only demonstrate their value or optimal function in remote locations. On the contrary, they are increasingly helping nurses and doctors provide better, faster and more affordable care in traditional inpatient and outpatient environments.
However, for any of that to happen—be it now or in the future with even better and more innovative medical devices—it will be up to medical device design companies like ours to help innovators bring their ideas to reality and/or to make them even lighter, smaller, more durable and more efficient.
What medical device trends in 2016 have you noticed as being the most emergent, crucial or perhaps overlooked or overrated?