Many countries in the developed and developing world are facing an aging demographics problem.
Longevity is increasing, and the percentage of the population that is over 65 is becoming a bigger percentage of the population.
Countries such as Japan, China, and Germany are going to have a higher percentage of their population who are older than they did in the past.
This means that government and private insurance companies in those countries are going to see increased costs of care for their covered lives. Older patients can be more expensive to insure in terms of health costs, with fewer younger people as a percentage of the population to balance out the higher cost of insuring older patients. As a result, the profitability (or even feasibility) of insuring a total population with aging demographics becomes problematic.
One result of this trend in countries facing a larger aging demographic is the increasing prevalence of telehealth and at home healthcare options.
Rather than care for aging patients in a higher cost hospital or clinic environment, patients are being treated at home using technology as a tool to reduce costs.
This manifests itself in such use cases as video conference consultations using mobile devices, medical devices that can be operated and remotely monitored at home by clinicians or patients, and the use of smart devices such as smart watches to monitor patient health metrics.
This of course creates an opportunity for life science companies to innovate, differentiate, and create new revenue and business models for medical devices that enable remote patient care plan management and treatment.
However, developing the ability to remotely monitor patients, or enable at home treatment can be challenging. Medical Device manufacturers have traditionally focused on clinical, engineering and production capabilities, as their core business model was as manufacturers and not service providers.
Outside of an innovative few, many medical device companies want to innovate to provide products and services that enable telehealth and at-home use of their devices where possible, but they often are faced with piecing together existing and third party capabilities and processes to do so.
This can be challenging to say the least, and can create complex technology stacks as well as complex customer and patient experiences.
What is needed is a way to create a unified patient and customer experience that works together in a more user-friendly patient pathway.
In order to begin this journey, Medical Device companies should consider the following questions:
- What is your current internal and third-party architecture, and how does it match up with the intended patient pathway?
- At each stage of the patient pathway, how are you currently able to add value?
- What frictions or gaps in capabilities to facilitate the patient journey exist in your current internal and third-party process(es)?
- How are you handling the following specific areas in your current patient pathway to enable remote and at-home patient management and monitoring:
- Initial setup?
- Ongoing patient monitoring and notification?
- Healthcare Provider / Clinician notification of key events and data points?
- Tracking of key events and data points?
- Collection of feedback from the patient, clinician or other stakeholder on problems, compliments, or recommended changes to the value chain for future product innovation?
- How will your process tie in front end and back end information to provide value to the various stakeholders?
- Recommendations to the patient, caregiver, clinician or other stakeholder based on real-time, active or passively collected data (surveys, patient monitoring), and how to share this data between patient and clinician while maintaining privacy?
- How to handle service issues, or even remote diagnosis / repair, or field visits of remote care plan management?
- If your patient journey for medical device product was unified and integrated, what would it look like?
There is currently a race in the Medical Device industry to create patient journeys that are seamless, and improve overall health and quality of care, while reducing costs.
The market participants who can achieve this successfully will have first-mover advantage, and likely enjoy profitable new revenue models by charging for services instead of selling physical products at a price.
Those medical device companies that begin this worthwhile work will need digital tools to enable new capabilities at scale, so that they can increase the competitive gap between themselves and their competitors.
The aging-demographic problem for some of the world’s largest Life Science and Medical Device markets, such as Germany, China and Japan, is not going away.
The question will be: who in the Medical Device industry will reach the future first, and who will be disrupted by those who do.