An article in the New York Times today confirms and highlights a key trend in the development of medical technologies – the marriage of medical devices and information technology, resulting in an order-of-magnitude shift in the performance of medical devices. The article, by NY Times writer Gina Kolata, hightlights the use of implantable defibrillators, such as those by St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific and Medtronic, that provide feedback to physicians on the devices’ status, the patient vital signs and other parameters, enabling physicians to be alerted to changes in either the patient's – or the device’s status – requiring intervention. The result is “smart implantables” that dramatically increase the overall value of the devices. Such a marriage of information technology and medical technology increases the likelihood that physicians may be better alerted to changes in the patients’ or the devices’ status that may ultimately equate to saved lives.
The use of these devices is not without challenges, including the occurrence of false positives (alerts to physicians of inconsequential patient/device status) and the liability or other burden on physicians in correctly interpreting and/or responding to status changes. Nonetheless, the significance of the device or patient status change is potentially of major significance in patient management, so a medical device integrated with information technology is inevitably going to provide value over the inert implanted device, and this is must be a benefit in the long run.
The trend of information technology being imbued in the design of medical devices is a key trend among many in high growth medical technologies, the subject of a MedMarket Diligence white paper. (Although our white paper was updated last fall, this trend was identified and its relevance is represented in this article.)