Medical-based devices and software are now a huge part of everyday patient care with more and more new technology being released into the market place all the time. It is one of the most innovative industries around, and each innovation can help make a positive impact on people’s lives.
But like most things in life, it’s never straight forward…
Just because you have a good idea, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to get it out to your audience. The MedTech industry has been massively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic like everyone, but what other challenges are being faced by companies in this space? And has the pandemic made these challenges harder or has it actually created some opportunities?
Let’s jump straight into it with the 4 biggest challenges (in my opinion) that MedTech companies face right now – feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below!
1. Data Security
Since the introduction of GDPR a few years ago, people have been more aware about the security of their personal data. This came back into the forefront of people’s minds recently with the announcement of NHS Digital’s GPDPR (read more about it here).
Whatever your medical innovation is you need to be aware that the data you’re collecting is a precious commodity. Yes the data can help identify trends and new ways to provide patient care but on the other-hand mis-handling this data can be your company’s downfall (through fines and reputational damage). You need to ensure that users, customers etc have the right for their data to not be shared. Giving people this clarity and option is vital but in some cases creates an extra challenge.
We’re also in the era of constant cyber-security threats like the WannaCry attack with cost the NHS £92 million. The financial challenges that attacks like these can have can massively dent confidence in your solution or in extreme cases end your company overnight. So it is paramount that you have a robust cyber security plan in place.
2. Reduced Buying Budgets
The next challenge is one that has been massively affected by the pandemic and it relates to reduced buyer budgets.
From an NHS perspective you could be fooled into thinking that they may have more to spend when you read stories that their funding is set to rise by £7 billion. However a lot of this will be tied up with the ongoing fight against coronavirus (annual booster vaccines etc) and clearing the ever growing waiting lists. So in the long term a lot of this money will already be accounted for and will probably leave less available for procurement of new solutions.
Also non-NHS funded organisations may have to rely on donations (e.g. the air ambulance sector where the majority are charitable organisations), which have taken a big hit these past two years. A lot of fundraising events have been cancelled meaning the number of donations they have been receiving has fallen dramatically, therefore impacting their spending power.
All of this means that MedTech companies will need to be smart in their pricing and contracts in order to sell into organisations who are definitely feeling the pinch right now.
This next challenge isn’t a new one and is one that will probably always be present and it’s regulation and legislation.
Whilst we can all agree that they are essential as they prevent rogue products entering the market place where they may inhibit patient care, there’s no denying it’s a big headache.
The amount of legislation and certification to be aware of can end up being a full time job. Knowing if you need to be on G-Cloud or accredited in Cyber Essentials, ISO 9001, ISO 13485:2016 etc can eat up a lot of time, so it’s something companies must factor into their go-to-market plans.
These regulations can also lead to long tender processes, so the time it takes from pitching to getting a signed contract can be a lot longer than you’d think.
4. Focus / Reduced Complexity
As the old saying goes ‘a camel is a horse designed by committee’ and this can be true in the world of MedTech too.
A lot of things are possible now but does your medical device need all the bells and whistles or does it need to focus on doing one thing really well? This is a common challenge during the product development stage where the original idea gets lost amongst other voices and add-ons suggested by others which ultimately leads to scope creep.
‘Keep it simple stupid’ is an old US Navy saying but it still holds true. Don’t overload your devices with lots of extras as this can make adoption harder amongst users. In order to get traction you need to make it as easy as possible for them to use the feature which brings them the most benefit.
Also it could be easier to integrate with existing services rather than spending time and money building your own (one example that springs to mind is that everyone integrates Google Maps now as it’s the industry leader so to make your own would be a folly).
Also if your solution relies partly (or entirely) on an app, having more features could lead to having extra bugs to fix when the regular iOS and Android operating system updates are rolled out.
Keeping focused on the original idea you had that set you off down this path is important but also a big challenge with all of the noise and distractions out there in the world.
What Do You Think?
Well you’ve read what I think are the biggest challenges, but do you agree or disagree with them? It’d be great to hear from you so please get in touch.
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