20 years ago, I’d have called you foolish if you suggested that the world’s largest taxi company would not own any taxis. I’d have called you ill-advised if you suggested that the world’s largest hotelier would not own any hotels. I’d have thought you unwise if you suggested that the world’s largest book store could have centered its business model around not owning physical sales points.
The world is changing, fast.
The next sector in line for this wholescale disruption is healthcare. Regulation, high entry barriers and the sacred place healthcare holds in society have slowed the disruption. Now, it is gathering momentum.
Robotics are entering the operating room with confidence1. New digital services are facilitating procedures for the healthcare community2. Virtual, AI assisted, consultations are becoming a reality with large scale deployment in London3. Digital reviews of doctors, which might someday evolve into public national rankings, are catching on in the US with questionable consequences4. Will we soon see healthcare primarily provided outside the hospital setting? Will our smartphone become our patient record? Will we go to our local 3D printer instead of pharmacies for personalised pills? None of these are as far away as we think.
This changing landscape casts major questions for legacy players in the market: how should we react to forces that are disrupting and re-shaping our industry?
The medical technology industry has major choices to make in the coming years that will shape our destiny. As I think through this, I increasingly believe a profoundly new vision is needed for medtech. I will be asking myself 3 big questions as we discuss amongst industry leaders in the coming months what such a direction might be:
1. Is the strategy bold enough?
2. Does it truly put people at the centre?
3. Will it protect the vibrant European ecosystem?
Is the strategy bold enough?
Being inflexible to change and unable to manage market disruptions would be a disservice to the patients we serve. To avoid this outcome, we need to be bold. Our strategy should make us somewhat uncomfortable. If not, we are not being bold enough.
Does the strategy truly put people at the centre?
As patients become more consumer-like we need a different approach to our core community. In fact, we need to redefine our relationship with people. A way must be found to shift the societal narrative around medtech, and this begins by positively recasting our relationship with patients.
Will our strategy protect the vibrant European ecosystem?
Diseases are not like taxis. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to disease control. The constant discovery of innovative ways to address unique patient needs is made possible through a diverse ecosystem of SMEs. Europe should be proud of this. Any new strategy must do everything to protect this essential space by lowering regulatory burden on SMEs, and facilitating market access for them.
How will we look back at our strategy 20 years from now? As new opportunities and challenges emerge, let us craft a bold vision for the medical technology community to address change with confidence.
1. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/29/the-robot-will-see-you-now-could-computers-take-over-medicine-entirely; https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2017/11/16/new-surgical-robots-are-about-to-enter-the-operating-theatre
3. Health secretary says Babylon-style GP model should become ‘available to all’
4. Are patient satisfaction surveys fuelling America’s opioid epidemic
This blog is part of the MedTech Forum blog series. You can follow the conversation under #MTF2019 and find more details at medtechforum.eu.