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The MedTech Boom: Five Considerations to Optimize Viability of Health Innovations
December 13, 2017

The MedTech Boom: Five Considerations to Optimize Viability of Health Innovations

Rick Burnett, PharmD, FACHE
The future is bright with technological innovation intended to improve every corner of our lives and, accordingly, there has been a virtual explosion in advancements designed to address the many challenges faced by patients, hospitals, and healthcare professionals.
Does the technology represent a true solution or just a Band-Aid?
For many, the creation of a product that does something new may, understandably, represent an end, in and of itself. But, for health professionals on the frontlines of patient care, the success of a technology must be measured on how completely it solves patient problems. For example, a tool to remind patients to take their medications when they leave the hospital ultimately may not be very effective if the primary reason patients aren’t taking their medications is because they can’t afford them—as is the case for 1 in 10 Americans, according to the CDC.

Depending on their varied backgrounds, the innovators of these advancements might not have a comprehensive understanding of the drivers behind some of the challenges they’re working to address. Healthcare leaders can help connect the dots to results in more comprehensive solutions.

How well does the technology align with the audience that might need it most?
According to the National Council of Aging, 77% of adults age 65 or older currently have 2 chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, or diabetes. And, according to the latest data available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than one-third of hospital stays were by patients over the age of 65. Clearly, then, addressing the critical needs of these older patient populations is necessarily high on the list of priorities.

So, healthcare professionals who may be exploring solutions for aging populations that leverage new technologies, such as smartphones, tablets, or even virtual reality, should consider how widely adopted they are within this age demographic. It may be difficult for relatively young and healthy innovators to put themselves in the mindset of an older adult struggling with a chronic illness, so hospital executives engaging in an open dialogue with these patients and their caregivers about what types of products they are, or aren’t, comfortable using is vital.

How much staff training will be required to get new tech operational and fully integrated?
Training on a new app or a new piece of tech, might not—in itself—be terribly time intensive. But, for the devices designed to put more control directly into the hands of patients (with oversight from their respective care teams), there will need to be coordination that can be, at times, complex. Many of these personal monitoring or medication-dispensing tools will require integration with a facility’s EHR system and might need to pull data from multiple disparate systems into a single interface. What sort of programming know-how will be required to get the new tech assimilated into existing systems and, perhaps, even talking to them in ways they’ve never talked to themselves?

It could be minimal, or it could be exorbitant, but the question should be posed to all who might be involved.

A judicious approach
The rapid pace of innovation in healthcare is astounding, and it will unquestionably represent a major component in tackling the challenges of an evolving world. But, however promising these solutions might appear, a judicious approach is required to ensure that each new application or device will be a true, long-term benefit to patients, the providers, and the health system.

 
Copyright AJMC 2006-2017 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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