Tonight, Brazil and Croatia will kick off what promises to be a great month for football fans the world over. And what will make it extra special for us in the MedTech industry is that the first kick will be given by a paralysed teenager. This remarkable feat is made possible thanks to an exo-skeleton controlled by the teenager’s brain. While I’m sure we are still a few years away from these medical devices becoming a mainstream treatment option for paralysis, it is great to see that they get mainstream attention thanks to events like the World Cup.
The Walk Again Project is headed by Duke University’s Center for Neuroengineering in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich and a number of other universities and research groups worldwide. Together they are designing the exo-skeleton and a 3D printed helmet that contains a series of electrodes capable of capturing brain waves. This brain activity will then initiate the suit’s movements.
And exo-skeletons are not the only medical technologies making the rounds in mainstream media as of late.
Great stories are popping up more and more, lately. I’ve already discussed it in my previous blog on how ICT-companies are entering the healthcare arena, and since then, i’ve seen several new articles, blogposts and videos from well-known brands touting how they are (partly) improving real people’s lives.
Take this video by Microsoft which was aired at the 2014 Super Bowl and gives an overview of how technology in general, and medical technology specifically has improved the lives of countless people around the world.
Another remarkable video is this one from Duracell where an American Football player tells the story of how, despite being deaf, he managed to become a professional NFL player and play in the Super Bowl thanks to his hearing aid.
A last video I wanted to bring to your attention is this one that was shown for the first time only last week at Apple’s yearly WorldWide Developers Conference. Now 17-year old Patrick Kane from the UK tells developers of iPhone apps how his smartphone helps him control the bionic hand he’s been fitted with and how it’s allowed him to perform day to day tasks much more easily.
These stories matter
Many of you reading this blog are either working in the MedTech industry, or are in some other way a healthcare stakeholder. And we all, from patient over policymaker to industry, share the same goal: to deliver, safe, effective and sustainable solutions. Everyone plays their role: patients want to make sure technologies are safe, policymakers want to ensure the regulatory environment maximises this safety without hindering innovation, payers try to ensure that new technologies are cost-effective and/or offer significant improvements, while industry ties all these requirements together. And in doing so, each of us is busy talking about Quality Adjusted Life Years, transition periods and reinforced control procedures, and many more technical terms I won’t go into right now.
Being busy everyday with our very own specialised area of healthcare, all of us can sometimes forget about the real impact we make on people’s lives, day in day out. The videos above and similar ones, and events such as the World Cup kick-off do just that. And that is why I will be a very attentive spectator tonight.
If you are interested in more videos such as these, head over to our YouTube channel at youtube.com/eucomed.
This topic of how medical technology companies and non-traditional healthcare companies are starting to get interwoven with one another is truly a fascinating one, and an evolution that our industry should be following closely. That is why it will be part of this year’s MedTech Forum programme, together with plenty of other great sessions, workshops and networking opportunities. So check out medtechforum.eu and be quick, as the early bird discount is running out in about 2 weeks.
Chief Executive Officer MedTech Europe, EDMA & Eucomed