Medical Technology Innovation Strives for Personal Focus, Cost-Efficiency
Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins says the products made by his company, like pacemakers, insulin pumps and neurostimulators are the "ultimate personal technologies," according to CNNMoney. He said a shift in his industry is moving towards health information technology that people will depend on and use with their cell phones and laptops.
"'We are in a unique position to be more than a therapeutic-device company,' Hawkins says. 'We can embed sensors and diagnostics into our devices that allow patients and doctors to be better engaged in the management of their chronic disease.' Hawkins' expansion into health information technology comes as growth is slowing in cardiovascular devices, a business Medtronic has been in since it was founded 60 years ago by electrical engineer Earl Bakken."
The result of such innovation would not only help people medically, but also help them save money. For example, a device that could monitor the buildup of fluid in the lungs for patients with heart disease, could allow "a doctor and a patient could simply get a notification on a BlackBerry or an iPhone of a dangerous trend, and drugs could be modified to prevent a trip to the emergency room" (Copeland, 4/21).
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Medical innovators are not just looking to develop the next best technology anymore, but also the cheapest, Today, "in a new era of health care reform, such innovators are focusing on ways to lower costs for health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals The demand that medical innovation be more cost-effective is playing out in the world of venture capital, where entrepreneurs pursue investment dollars to turn their ideas into reality. They reach out to venture capital firms, government and private investors - often called 'angels' - all promising not only high-tech pizazz, but cost savings, too."
One company, the newspaper reports, has developed a new type of implantable defibrillator for patients with irregular heartbeats. "Graeme Thomas, the firm's chief executive, said his low-voltage units would lower the potential for trauma and cardiac injury as well as cut health care costs by reducing emergency room visits and prolonged hospitalization."
Though cutting costs in many cases is now a necessary component to get a device to sell, the focus is still on achieving good health outcomes. "Although the products of some startups are geared toward saving hospital labor costs or reducing the risk of infection in hospitals, others are simply pitching better, easier medicine" (Doyle, 4/21).