Medtech is finally going digital
The COVID-19 pandemic sped up developments that were going on before the virus jumped from bats to humans. Count the digitization of medtech among those trends. Electronics have become so miniaturized over recent decades that it seemed only a matter of time before anything used on human beings would have sensors collecting information.
However, industries are slow to change when they are highly regulated — and sell to big health providers paid by big public and private insurers.
Why remotely monitor a patient when it seemed to work just fi ne for them to stop in at the clinic to get checked out? Plus, there was the bureaucracy involved in trying to get paid for the remote monitoring.
COVID-19 shook things up because just stopping in to get checked out sometimes wasn’t logistically possible. People also wanted to limit their exposure to others. Health providers quickly shifted to doing many things remotely.
It’s little wonder, then, that 2021 is the year that we’re expecting a major orthopedic device company to roll out a smart knee implant.
Zimmer Biomet’s Persona-IQ is a next-gen version of its successful, personalized Persona Revision knee implants. It incorporates the Canary Health Implantable Reporting Processor (CHIRP), created by the startup Canary Health. The CHIRP is about the size of a triple-A battery and can transmit data to a base station in a person’s home for up to 20 years.
Zimmer Biomet and Canary Health are seeking reimbursement decisions from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that could enable doctors to receive extra payments for monitoring CHIRP data. It’s little wonder that there’s so much buzz around the Persona-IQ: Doctors could get an extra steady income stream for years, and they’d be grateful for the extra data after a year of trying to evaluate knee patients over Zoom.
Dr. Bill Hunter, the founder and CEO of Canary Medical, recently told Medical Design & Outsourcing that the Persona-IQ will be able to do even more in the future: “If we can identify problems early, then it really becomes a ‘why not’ therapy at that point in time.”
Hunter had several more insights to share for our cover feature about smart knee implants.
The Persona-IQ story is just one in our March issue that covers the digitization of medtech:
- Senior editor Danielle Kirsh, for example, “attended” the CES 2021 virtual trade show and reported back on a host of wearables and digital health tools — many with a potential use against the coronavirus pandemic.
- Associate editor Sean Whooley meanwhile interviewed Mike Coyle, who left an 11-year career at Medtronic to take the helm of iRhythm Technologies. The Zio XT from iRhythm is an ambulatory cardiac monitor among a number of promising technologies that could supplant the Holter monitors that doctors have used for years to discover heart rhythm problems.
- Pharma editor Brian Buntz checks out continuous glucose monitoring systems, which have already made a major difference among many people with diabetes.
As I write this editorial in late February, the U.S. has crossed the 500,000 mark for COVID-19 deaths; nearly 2.5 million are dead worldwide. It’s hard to feel optimistic about the future with those types of numbers, and yet here’s to hoping that the accelerated innovation that we have seen in pharma and medtech will genuinely make a difference and enable people to have healthier and happier lives in the future.
Medical Design & Outsourcing