Medica 2016

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Medica 2016

Thousands of medical technology firms from more than 65 countries exhibited at Medica 2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany. It was the first time that I attended such a large scale trade fair. The exposure was second to none. The event provided an excellent platform to meet customers/partners/suppliers, network with some of the brightest minds and learn about the latest trends in the industry. Here are some of the key trends I observed at the world’s largest medtech trade fair:

Telemedicine: Telemedicine and Telehealth was a major topic of discussion at the Medica Health IT forum. There are a number of companies, big and small, that are tapping into the demand for telemedicine. Philips Healthcare, for example, showcased their Personal Emergency Response System (predicts falls and whether a fall would require hospitalization for the elderly) that they have successfully launched in the North American market. The company is looking at introducing the product in Europe in the near future. While traditional segments are establishing their foothold in the market, telediabetology is one of the most rapidly growing segments in the telemedicine arena.

Point of care (PoC) devices: Both in the diagnostic imaging and in-vitro diagnostics category, the market is moving towards point of care devices. Mindray Biomedical Electronics had a mobile compact ultrasound device for hemodynamic analysis of blood flow. In the in-vitro diagnostics segment, new PoC devices to detect cancers, specifically lung, breast, cervical and prostate cancers were exhibited. These devices leveraged new cutting edge technology using semiconductor chips as well as immunological and cell-based biotechnological methods.

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Booths at Medica 2016

Wearables: Wearables technology is touted as a game changer in the medtech sector and occupied a special spot in Medica 2016. Several companies (nearly 40) exhibited their products in the wearables category ranging from sports medicine, wearables for monitoring, pain treatment, first aid etc. Roche ( Accu – Check) demonstrated its diabetes management tool that combines a blood glucose monitor, a wearable fitness tracker, and an App that can help a doctor monitor a patient’s blood glucose level remotely. Most of the blood glucose monitors are invasive, few companies demoed non-invasive products. Particularly unique was GlucoTrack, a device that can be clipped to test ones blood glucose levels.

Robotics: Be it application in surgeries, image guided nuero-stimulation procedure, fully automated lab equipment or rehabilitation equipment, robotics has gained immense traction in the recent past. UK based Bee Robotics, MST, Axilum Robotics were some of the companies that demonstrated their innovative products. A lot of demos were done using prototype devices, with regulatory approvals still in the works. But given the rapid technological advancements in AI the future looks very bright for robotics.

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Team Cyient at Medica 2016

Overall it was a fantastic event and meeting with medtech players from across the globe was a superb learning experience. What major trends did you observe at Medica 2016? Do share your experience in the comments section below.

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Why Disruption is Leading to Collaboration

What is common in between these pairs of companies?

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Apart from being stellar companies in their respective fields, the above are pairs of disruptor-incumbent in the healthcare space. Apple launched its HealthKit and partnered with EMR giant Epic to revolutionize patient engagement. Theranos teamed up with Walgreens to bring its innovative lab diagnostics services to the masses. 23andMe announced collaboration with Pfizer to conduct genetic studies through its research platform. To me these partnerships highlight one interesting trend – disruption is leading to collaboration.

Businesses are often perceived as ‘dog eat dog’ establishments with little scope of interconnectedness. On the face of it collaboration seems to be counterintuitive. After all why would high potential disruptive company want to pool its intellectual capital with an incumbent? And from an incumbent’s perspective, why would it pool its resources with a disruptor?

Firstly, because they both share a common vision. Successful companies are driven by a vision and tend to work with those that share that vision with them. For example, Apple envisions HealthKit’s user generated data as a major game changer for patient-engagement. But it also realizes that to get a holistic view of a patient’s health, EMR data would be necessary. That’s where Epic comes into the picture which understands that the traditional EMR silo wouldn’t lead to patient-centred care – the new paradigm of healthcare.

Secondly, collaboration allows to share expertise. With its powerful genomic data 23andMe can make personalized medicine a reality. Since the company lacks industry knowledge in the area of drug research and development it gave Pfizer access to its repository. Pfizer has more than a century of expertise in drug development can tap this new information to study the associations between disease and genes.  This new partnership could lead to identify new targets to treat disease and to design clinical trials. It’s certainly a win-win for both the companies.

Finally, it allows them to leverage an established network. Theranos teamed up with Walgreens to deliver lab tests rather than opening its own retail clinics. Because it realized the importance of access to the right network at the right time. In an industry where having the first mover advantage can mean a difference between success and failure, Theranos tapped Walgreen’s well established retail networks to reach its targets.

It is an exciting time to be a player in the healthcare field today, both as a disruptor and as an incumbent. And in these exciting times the business model that is sustainable is the one that hinges on the spirit of collaboration.

Thoughts?

Ideal Patient for Patient Engagement

“If patient engagement were a drug it would be the blockbuster drug of the century”.

Leonard Kish, Healthcare IT Consultant

It has been generally accepted that healthcare is a complex business and treatment is best left in the hands of professionals. Historically a patient played a more passive role in the delivery system, letting specialists make most of the decisions for them. But latest research has proven that a more engaged patient receives better quality healthcare and also incurs lower costs. Given these benefits, some experts have touted patient engagement as the block buster drug of the century.

So where do we start to reap full benefits of patient engagement? Of course, with the patients.  While it is essential for all the stakeholders to support patient engagement efforts, much of the responsibility lies on patient’s shoulder to drive the success of such initiatives. It requires deliberate, focused and consistent efforts that entail critical cultural and behavioural changes from patients’ end.  So what qualities make a candidate ideally suited for patient engagement?Here’s what I think are the top three:

Receptive to Education: When it comes to something as serious as healthcare one cannot afford to make our decisions on wrong or partial information. Health literacy is critical for patients and having a mind-set that is receptive to learn is crucial for effective participation.

Ready to Take Control and Act: Once the patient has access to information, acting on it is crucial. Creating a personal health plan, tracking personal health information, involving other caregivers & family members are some of the measures that an engaged patient ought to take.

Open to Share: It turns out that inspiring someone else to choose an apple instead of an ice-cream, has a greater overall benefit that simply receiving a benefit yourself. A more engaged patient has the power to influence a wider audience which can lead to a healthier population in general.

In essence, an ideal patient for patient engagement transforms from “Someone should tell me what to do” to “I need to self-direct my healthcare” mentality. And only when this is achieved we can realize the true potential of THE blockbuster drug of the century.

Quotable Quotes

I am a quotes person, have always been one. As a 10-year old I covered the wall of my room with quotes. Even today I maintain a diary of quotes that I refer to every now and then. Quotes inspire, guide and motivate me.

I am constantly looking for words of wisdom in the business arena as well.In this post I tried to curate a list of some healthcare quotes that resonated with me and have made me think.

Here are some of my favourites:

“Betterment is perpetual labour. The world is chaotic, disorganized, and vexing, and medicine is nowhere spared that reality. To complicate matters, we in medicine are also only human ourselves. We are distractible, weak, and given to our own concerns. Yet still, to live as a doctor is to live so that one’s life is bound up in others’ and in science and in the messy, complicated connection between the two It is to live a life of responsibility. The question then, is not whether one accepts the responsibility. Just by doing this work, one has. The question is, having accepted the responsibility, how one does such work well.”
― Atul GawandeBetter: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

“But now I also understand, firsthand, the meaning of what the caregivers who work in that system do every day. They do achieve amazing things, and when it’s your life or your child’s life or your mother’s life on the receiving end of those amazing things, there is no such thing as a runaway cost. You’ll pay anything, and if you don’t have the money, you’ll borrow at any mortgage rate or from any payday lender to come up with the cash. Which is why 60 percent of the nearly one million personal bankruptcies filed in the United States last year resulted from medical bills.”
— Steven Brill (America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System)

“The Universal Laws of Health Care Systems:

1. “No matter how good the health care in a particular country, people will complain about it”
2. “No matter how much money is spent on health care, the doctors and hospitals will argue that it is not enough”
3. “The last reform always failed”
— T.R. Reid (The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care)

“A recent Economist article on dialysis perfectly illustrates the inflationary impact of cost-plus pricing. Since U.S. clinics are paid on a cost-plus basis, they prefer to use expensive drugs rather than cheaper ones. In fact, many appear to order drugs in units that exceed what a standard dosage requires because they can charge the government for the wastage. Quoting a stock research firm, the article noted that many clinics preferred an injected drug with a price of $4,100 a year over the identical drug in oral form, priced at only $450 a year. Not surprisingly, the manufacturer of the oral drug responded by increasing its price above that of the injected version to make it more competitive!”
― David GoldhillCatastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father–and How We Can Fix It

“Japan has the oldest population in the world, and the Japanese go to the doctor more than anybody—about fourteen office visits per year, compared with five for the average American. And yet Japan spends about $3,400 per person on health care each year; we burn through $7,400 per person.”
— T.R. Reid (The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care)

“The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.”
― Paul A. OffitDo You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

“What is needed, however, isn’t just that people working together be nice to each other. It is discipline. Discipline is hard–harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can’t even keep from snacking between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at.”
― Atul GawandeThe Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

“We’re paying a lot more for everything because we have this naive assumption that healthcare can be a marketplace when everyone of us sitting here knows that when we’re sick, we’re not a savvy consumer of healthcare.” Steven Brill, America’s Toxic Pill

“It drove home to me the reality that in addition to being a tough political issue because of all the money involved, health care is a toxic political issue because of all the fear and the emotion involved.” Steven Brill, America’s Toxic Pill

“Billions of dollars are spent on technology and IT in healthcare, but most of that is for legacy enterprise systems. Very antiquated systems and procedures are in place in healthcare. Technology can change that. This tells me that healthcare is ripe with disruptive potential.”
Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

“Today, however, anti-vaccine activists go out of their way to claim that they are not anti-vaccine; they’re pro-vaccine. They just want vaccines to be safer. This is a much softer, less radical, more tolerable message, allowing them greater access to the media. However, because anti-vaccine activists today define safe as free from side effects such as autism, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots—conditions that aren’t caused by vaccines—safer vaccines, using their definition, can never be made.”
― Paul A. OffitDeadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All

“A patient in the American health care system has very little leverage, has very little knowledge, has very little power.” Steven Brill, America’s Toxic Pill