By Amy Sklar, SVP of advanced manufacturing communities, UBM.
As reported by Rock Health’s Midyear Funding Review, 2018 got off to a roaring start with $3.4 billion for digital health funding in the first six months of the year. All indicators point to continued momentum in 2019, as startups and veteran companies alike work to unlock the potential of digital health technology to increase efficiencies in healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes.
In the coming year we will see innovations including smart, connected products offering opportunities for new functionality, consumer engagement, and higher product utilization. The industry will additionally see startups enter the space leveraging new capabilities for data collection and analytics to better apply insights to make medicine more precise. To learn more, a panel of experts will expand on this topic, speaking to the evolving nature of digital health at MD&M West Anaheim 2019.
While nanotechnology isn’t anything new, we will see continued interest in developing the space with an anticipated move toward more catheter-based and minimally invasive procedures. Medical devices are getting smaller with the demand for technology-driven advancements, and rapid developments are being made in design options to enable drug delivery. In particular, breakthroughs in new drugs and biologics are increasingly seeking localized delivery for better therapeutic effects.
Medical robotics has an exciting future. At the Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) 2019 conference in Anaheim, we are seeing a significant increase in companies impacting the surgical robotics field. A few key players include Intuitive Surgical, TransEnterix, Medrobotics, Medtronic with its acquisition of Mazor Robotics and Neural Analytics. Robotic-assisted surgery has the potential to improve patient care and vastly increase the efficiency and accuracy of healthcare teams. We are entering a world where surgical robots are more than just a robotic arm. It consists of intraoperative-imaging, surgical navigation, 3D imaging, pre-surgical planning software, among others, that all mesh seamlessly into the surgeon’s workflow to enable improved outcomes.
Augmented reality and virtual reality: Changing the face of healthcare
One of the most exciting areas of development in the medical technology arena is augmented and virtual reality. While augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have a variety of benefits, we will see these technologies expanding access to healthcare in 2019. Telemedicine is still in its infancy, but with population health on the forefront of medical technology conversations, 2019 will see major strides in advancing virtual care to support the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have access to safe or affordable surgery.
Medical students and experienced surgeons alike can wear a VR headset to immerse themselves in a surgery simulation that teaches thousands, as opposed to traditional instruction. This application of VR affords continued education to surgeons across the globe, also enabling them to practice particularly complex operations in advance.