Life Science Companies Adapt As Healthcare Goes Home

Jonathan Burdette

Many countries in the developed and developing world are facing an aging demographics problem. As longevity increases, so does the percentage of the population that is over age 65.
This means that governments and private insurance companies in countries like Japan, China, and Germany are going to see higher costs of care. Older patients can be more expensive to insure, especially with fewer younger people to balance out the higher costs. As a result, the profitability (or even feasibility) of insuring a population with aging demographics becomes problematic.
One result of this trend is the increasing prevalence of telehealth and at-home healthcare options. Rather than being cared for in a high-cost hospital or clinic, more patients are being treated at home, using technology as a tool to reduce costs. Examples include the use of video conference consultations using mobile devices, medical devices that can be operated and remotely monitored by clinicians or patients, and smart devices to monitor health metrics.
This 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 tools that 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 has been in manufacturing rather than providing services.
Most medical device companies are striving to innovate to provide products and services that enable telehealth and at-home use. But outside of an innovative few, many simply piece together existing and third-party capabilities and processes. This can create complex technology stacks and customer/patient experiences. Instead, companies need to focus on creating a unified and user-friendly customer/patient experience.

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 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 stakeholders on problems, compliments, or recommended changes to the value chain for future product innovation
    • How your process tie front- 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 devices was unified and integrated, what would it look like?
There is currently a race in the medical device industry to create seamless patient journeys while also improving overall health and quality of care and reducing costs. Companies that can achieve this will have first-mover advantage and will likely enjoy profitable new revenue models by charging for services instead of selling physical products. 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 is not going away. The question is, which players in the medical device industry will reach the future first, and which ones will be disrupted by those that do?
For more on how digitalization is transforming healthcare, see Current And Future Role Of Wearables In Healthcare.

Jonathan Burdette

About Jonathan Burdette

Jonathan Burdette is Senior Director of Customer Engagement and Commerce for the Life Sciences Line of Business at SAP.