Medtech innovation trends for 2024
Global spend on medical devices is set to grow in real terms over the next 12 months. Yet the economic squeeze on medtech companies is still very much apparent. In this context, innovation must be targeted, commercially astute, and governed by a rigorous ROI-led mindset. Sagentia Innovation’s medtech experts have examined the market to see where the greatest near to mid-term opportunities lie.
Savvy R&D investment
According to EY’s Pulse of the Industry report, “technology advances will likely accelerate sector growth, especially when combined with demand for patient-centred, personalised care”. Indeed, EY anticipates a leftward shift in venture capital investment, from commercial stage to early-stage start-ups. This indicates growing appetite for new ideas and innovations to meet current healthcare priorities.
Digital health is set to continue as a dominant trend in 2024, fuelled by greater acceptance of digital therapeutics and telemedicine. Within this, surgical robotics, diagnostics, and women’s health will stand out as innovation hotspots. We also anticipate increased focus on digital solutions for challenging, underfunded health issues that are not well understood. These include mental health conditions, particularly the increased prevalence of anxiety and depression in young people. Chronic pain is another area where digital innovation could deepen understanding and facilitate better patient support. The detailed study of breakthrough drugs, such as donanemab and lecanemab for Alzheimer’s, may also benefit from advancements driven by digital technologies.
From a technical perspective, it’s no surprise that use of AI to enable better efficiency and effectiveness is commanding a high level of interest. There are hopes that it could be harnessed to reveal new insights that aid diagnosis and treatment. Generative AI could accelerate the planning and execution of research tasks too. However, developments involving AI as a Medical Device (AIaMD) must be rooted in a good understanding of regulatory principles. (Sagentia Innovation’s Head of Software has written about six must-have properties of AIaMD here).
Surgery is also ripe for technical enhancement. A prime candidate is the use of data fusion techniques, integrating surgical data sources for advanced navigation and visualisation which eases surgeons’ cognitive load.
Focusing on patient needs
As EY indicates, patient-centred trends will shape investment decisions over the coming year. Women’s health and healthy aging are likely to feature heavily on the innovation agenda, thanks in part to government policies.
The launch of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research could mark a pivotal moment for women’s health. And in England, the Chief Medical Officer’s 2023 annual report emphasises the need to minimise the time people spend in ill health during old age.
Both these trends are linked to the wider movement towards better accessibility and inclusivity of healthcare provision.
Driving accessibility and inclusivity
Issues hindering access to healthcare vary in different parts of the world and for different demographics. However, there is a common need to reduce barriers that prevent timely diagnoses and effective treatment.
AI is likely to be harnessed as a tool to address some of these challenges, with solutions enabling more rapid and cost-effective diagnostics and decision-making. The Institute of Cancer Research’s discovery that AI is twice as accurate as a biopsy at grading the aggressiveness of some sarcomas demonstrates the power of this technology. However, emotional intelligence can drive significant progress too. When it comes to design and development, empathy-led approaches hold game-changing potential for women’s health, and other medtech disciplines also have much to gain from a human-centred focus.
Decentralisation of healthcare provision remains a key trend, but it is not just about convenience and cost savings. It’s also about reaching populations that have traditionally been underserved by healthcare provision. China is a case in point, and the World Economic Forum’s China Edition of Global Health and Healthcare Strategic Outlook lists ‘technology and innovation’ as a high priority pillar. As the Healthy China 2030 initiative moves from vision to action, various solutions for the reduction of healthcare barriers have been identified, including patient empowerment, digitalisation, and decentralisation.
Robotic-Assisted Surgery (RAS) is also set to benefit from focused innovation to make specialist procedures more accessible in more parts of the world. Developments centred on the miniaturisation of RAS instruments are one aspect of this. They further minimise invasiveness, making it easier and safer to perform complex surgeries. This also allows patients to recover faster, contributing to overall healthcare system efficiency.
Navigating the healthcare landscape
Technology can address many of today’s healthcare challenges. However, it’s not easy to determine where, when, and how to innovate due to the many complex factors at play. US companies targeting Europe need to be especially mindful of regional variations in regulatory requirements. And we expect environmental sustainability to influence mainstream R&D in 2024 as it transitions from corporate ESG goal to practical consideration. Understanding trends, drivers, and target markets, then applying rigour to product development strategies is the key to good commercial outcomes.
Speed to market is critical in the current economic climate where a clear path to ROI aids financial stability and boosts investor confidence. Sagentia Innovation’s scientists, engineers, and technology specialists have the insights and capabilities to get new medtech developments off the ground more quickly. Contact us to discuss your R&D challenges; we’d love to help Contact us.