It has already been said that medical technology is getting complicated. Now it’s time to point out that the world is getting strikingly small(er).
Even the youngest startup has to consider market opportunity on a global scale. So a little medtech startup with not much more than a patent (and sometimes not even that) and with a staff you can count with one hand, is highly likely to be considering their moves based on global markets. The opportunities are all too apparent and tangible.
A caseload of 100,000 U.S. patients annually as prospects for a new device can be reasonably attractive if the device offers a measurable clinical advantage over alternative approachesÂ — approaches that may include a device, a drug, a hybrid of both or just a lifestyle change — and if that advantage is tangible and can be sold as such. But if the real potential market is any healthcare system sophisticated enough to use the device, willing and prepared to pay for the device and one reachable by distribution systems, then that U.S. caseload can actually represent a minor share of the total. The “rule of thumb” is that for most medical device markets, the U.S. represents roughly 50% of the world market, and while clearly the U.S. healthcare system is ready, willing and able to pay for medical technology that sometimes shows only marginal clinical advantage, that remaining 50% is comprised of an awful lot of Westernized, democractic, and capitalistic geographies, with sophisticated distribution systems, well established reimbursement schemes and, not least of which, painfully favorable currency exchange rates against the dollar. Combine this with increasingly sophisticated manufacturing and design companies capable of producing prototypes, CRO’s capable of generating clinical data, and tax structures, work forces and economies globally just begging for outsourcing opportunity and it seems a rather foolish notion to limit market consideration to the U.S., does it not?
Then there is that other earth-shrinking force, information technology. Time was when my business’s worldwide focus meant a rather heavy FedEx bill to deliver reports to Europe, Japan, China, Australia, Korea and the Middle East, but thankfully, the idea of the “paperless” world is getting more and more real, since now the vast majority of business reports are ordered and delivered electronically within 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s only the deliberative dialogue that takes longer as clients decide on the relevance of report content and that process takes place largely electronically, of course.
Worldwide marketsÂ MedMarket DiligenceÂ have covered recently: