Medical Devices Play Key Role in the Evolution of Healthcare
As the healthcare system evolves with digitalization and new technologies, the role of medical devices also changes. Manufacturers are developing devices that can complement traditional healthcare services through virtual care and other home-based solutions. However, to fully capitalize on these tools, technology has to become a priority within healthcare budgets in the public and private sectors.
Medical devices are transforming the way healthcare is being delivered, allowing for the creation of devices that support patients in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. These devices are expected to gain even more importance in modern healthcare. Medical devices are “a vital element and will enable a quantum leap in the personal and general health sector,” says Gervasio Videla, Co-Founder and CEO, Ellie Care. However, their main challenges include their adoption by the healthcare sector, which must balance accessibility, quality and costs.
Medical devices are becoming essential to elevate the medical service that can be provided through the internet by allowing patients and doctors to connect remotely. Some of these devices even allow for remote patient monitoring, such as wearable sensors, or remote rehabilitation, such as exoskeletons.
The growing adoption of Big Data and AI has the potential to completely transform the health sector, says Maria Salido, CEO, Social Diabetes. For example, the combination of wearables and AI could enable the detection of diseases before symptoms even appear. At this point, digital technologies have only digitized the procedures that health professionals already do but in the future the technology will have a much larger role in healthcare.
AI and ML are becoming increasingly decisive in medical devices and in the future most involved in the provision of healthcare services will use these technologies, says Patrick Devlyn, President of the Health Commission, CCE. The use of AI presents an unbeatable opportunity to drive social inclusion and close social and economic gaps, adds Devlyn. All devices that nurture these dynamic ecosystem platforms should be seen as part of an integral open system, and the adoption of these technologies should be the basis from which the healthcare system should start, he adds.
Medical devices can also improve care for specific conditions and aging. For example, senior care platform Ellie Care leverages smart watches to provide monitoring services to those over 65 years old. The platform uses smart watches as they are the device with the highest adoption, are not stigmatized and are simple to use.
Medical devices are expected to become more intelligent as they offer real-time data, allowing people to have more control over their health. The progress in the medical device sector will come hand in hand with the evolution of telemedicine, which continues to gain popularity as more users are satisfied with this technology.
While innovation will continue advancing this industry, medical devices have to become a priority in all health budgets to increase accessibility. “Access to good quality, affordable and appropriate health products is indispensable to advance universal health coverage, address health emergencies and promote healthier populations,” says WHO.
The application of innovative technology in medical devices can significantly impact patient care. Thus, medical devices have an obligation to be the innovative arm of the healthcare sector, as they have the ability to provide quality care to patients across all stages, says Jorge Daniel Alarcón, Medical Devices Director, CANIFARMA. There is, however, an important lack of awareness about the advantages these new technologies bring, so all actors must work together to spread the world about the added value this technology brings to healthcare.
It is important to ensure that every medical device and healthcare input follows the principles of quality, safety and efficacy. So medical devices benefit the patient, it is key for clinical care protocols to adhere to international standards. While Mexico has one of the most robust standards in the regulation of good manufacturing practices for medical equipment, the country ranks 46th in consumption of medical equipment, according to Alarcón.
Although there is a need to keep pace with technological innovations, it is essential that regulations ensure that these policies are correctly analyzed to take full advantage of the potential benefits of medical devices. One significant challenge is the ease of access to data, as different medical devices ecosystems make it difficult for healthcare professionals to access the full capabilities of the equipment.
To fully capitalize on the potential of this technology within healthcare, the system must process a massive level of information, says Vanessa Ballarte, Executive Director of Corporate Strategy and Digital Health for Latin America, Omron. From the perspective of medical equipment manufacturers, there will be three key points for this transformation: equipment with connectivity to transmit this information, portability and continuous use of this equipment and the use of clinically validated equipment, she adds.