Through the course of researching advanced medical technologies and the markets and opportunities for them, I see some real trends and drivers in the market:
- The drive for minimal invasiveness. NOTES (natural orifice surgery), single port laparoscopic procedures, percutaneous procedures — anything that causes less pain and collateral damage, shortens recovery and (but not necessarily) reduces cost
- The development of hybrid devices that combine multiple product forms to achieve new clinical goals: the integration of drugs with devices with drugs to enhance device performance, implanted devices to deliver drugs
- Advanced materials development: devices that dissolve, resorb, stimulate tissue ingrowth, prevent infection, prevent inflammatory response
- Information technology: radiofrequency identification devices (RFID), computer-aided drug design, surgical simulation preoperative/planning systems, electronic medical records
- Drive for healthcare reform: this is the most nebulous and significant of trends given its pervasive discussion in economic, political and business forums. For medtech, it means anything related to better outcomes at existing or lower cost, which underlies almost all other trends
- Economy: Never before has the impact of a declining or stagnant economy had as much impact on the medical technology industry. Elective procedures (cosmetic/aesthetic and others) will take the hardest direct hit, but restrictive credit markets are forcing investment — in startups as well as later stage — from alternative sources. Capital equipment expenditures are also on the chopping block.
Then there the clinical and technology areas where there is just a hotbed of activity:
- anything related to the spine: pain relief, dynamic stabilization, all tapping into aging population
- any kind of drug-eluting stent: Boston Scientific and J&J have hoarded the pie too long
- obesity drugs, devices: the burgeoning population is driving just as much activity
- neuromodulation: a true growth market, the true potential for which is untested but still a big opportunity
- glucose monitoring: the non-invasive test is a holy grail
These are just some of the drivers, trends and hot areas that I see. I would love to see your comments!