Q: What opportunities and/or challenges does the growing pressure to control the rising costs of healthcare present to medical device designers and manufacturers?
The opportunities brought about by this pressure include a trend toward evidence-based medicine. This trend necessitates new medical devices that can sense, analyze, communicate, and store personalized health indicators. These new devices promise to eliminate subjectivity and human error, resulting in more accurate, effective, and cost-effective treatments. The evidence-based medicine coincides with a trend toward more real-time and continuous diagnostics. These goals can typically only be met with wearable or implantable devices.
Another significant opportunity is the trend toward implantable device miniaturization. Through device miniaturization, we enable minimally invasive implant surgeries that are performed in outpatient clinics instead of hospitals, reduce the risks of complications and infections, and expedite healing. Overall, device miniaturization can lead to significantly more cost-effective solutions.
The primary challenge presented by cost-control pressure is that substantial funding is required to support the significant engineering efforts required for the development of these new therapies, systems, and devices. Due to the highly regulated nature of the medical device industry, the returns on these investments are not quick. Under the pressure to reduce healthcare costs, it is often difficult to find the investment capital required to get the required development work started.