6 Trends for Medical Technology & Device Development

by Wei Huang


July 03, 2020

As the MedTech industry enters a new decade, let’s pause and reflect on the probable evolutions we already can anticipate.
Important innovations and development are likely to happen in the following six domains:

Trend 1: More diagnostic tools will come

Research on accurate diagnostic tests for cancer will make further progress in the identification of early-stage tumour development. Researchers at the University of Nottingham have achieved positive results with a series of blood tests for breast cancer diagnosis. The diagnosis may predict outcomes five years before any symptoms. Such a test could be used to screen women, potentially replacing mammograms and allowing treatment to start far earlier, when it is most likely to succeed.

More research is expected to follow, as well as clinical development such as Owlstone Medical Respiratory Biopsy System and CancerSEEK liquid biopsy tests licensed by the American medical company Thrive Earlier Detection.

In other areas of in vitro diagnostics, the development of rapid point-of-care monitoring (POC) equipment will continue, which will not only avoid delays, but also reduce the cost of transferring samples to the laboratory. Key areas include: Site-monitored blood, saliva, and urine tests for cardiac markers, cholesterol, iron, and contagious disease pathogens.

With the development of this technology, more devices that can test multiple markers simultaneously (xPOCT) are expected. The analysers will further evolve towards increased portability and lower cost.

Trend 2: Personalised medicine

Pharmaceutical companies are always driven to research sensational therapies, drugs and medical devices that work for patients worldwide. People are also gradually realising that, for some drugs, diseases, and different situations, if targeted adjustments can be made to independent patients, treatment effects can be improved and side effects reduced. For example, for patients using warfarin (an anticoagulant), if the dose is appropriately adjusted according to the measurement level of the others CYP 450 ensyme , the risk of stroke will be reduced. In addition, for cancer treatment based on genetic biomarkers, such as overexpression of HER-2 protein, 30% of breast cancers are treated with Herceptin.

The customised therapy as well biomarkers for variations for lung and colon cancer, melanoma, and myeloid leukaemia, have been under progress.

Other research areas include Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer disease. Customised therapies have proven effective in a variety of contexts, which will therefore drive the need for the development of new in vitro diagnostic devices to detect more patient-related biomarkers.

The application of 3D printing in the medical field is rapidly developing along with customised accessories including prosthetic, dental and orthopaedic implants. In the field of regenerative medicine, 3D printed stents have been used in the construction of blood vessels and bones. Organovo , California, a leader in this field, has successfully implemented many different biological tissues, including kidneys, intestines, and skin for in vivo drug testing.

The development of stem cell therapy is also moving towards the growth of more complex organs, such as lung tissue and liver from patients' own cells, which has the potential to overcome the risk of being rejected by the patient's own immune system.

Trend 3: The convergence of artificial intelligence and digital healthcare

We predict that digital healthcare technologies will merge with each other. For example, telemedicine services and wearable technology are connected to devices, and AI technology will also leap forward in 2020. Major consumer technology leaders, such as Apple and Google in the US, Huawei and Tencent in China will continue to invest in this area. According to Data Intelligence research, the global telemedicine market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 19% and the market size will reach $ 113 billion by 2025.

Many of these services can transfer data through the application on smart phones or smart watches, while others need to rely on connected medical equipment, such as diagnostic equipment, connected drug delivery equipment (for monitoring drug compliance) for diabetic patients Continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels. AI is constantly being used in these areas.

An image processing AI has proven to be more accurate in diagnosing malignant melanoma than consulting a dermatologist. Although smartphones claims to accomplish this task have not been verified and are potentially misleading. More studies are expected to show AI diagnosis from a range of medical images.

The initial use of AI tools is more likely to support doctors in making diagnosis and treatment decisions than to replace the work of the other party. Robots will also likely become a means of gradually increasing their role to support simplified diagnosis and treatment. The realisation of the above two will undoubtedly place demands on the development of devices that can effectively interact with patients.

Trend 4: Cyber security for medical networking

With the increase in the amount of patient electronic data and the increase in the number of connected medical devices, in 2020 people will pay more attention to the network security and data privacy of connected devices and systems. Both the FDA and the EU are aware of the problem and emphasise the responsibility of manufacturers to manage their risks. Data security and personal privacy should be considered by manufacturers as the top priority at the early stages of developing those products or systems.

Trend 5: New surgical therapies and expanded use of robots

Minimally invasive surgery has changed people's perception of surgery in many ways, such as shortening the recovery period and reducing the recurrence rate. With the continuous development of new instruments, minimally invasive surgery technology will expand to a wider range of surgical fields. The FDA has approved mitral valve minimally invasive surgery in 2019 and looks forward to expanding it to more patients by 2020.

In the past three years, surgical robots have continuously become one of the focal points in the development of the medical field, and the field of precision and minimally invasive will become its development focus. The Dutch company Preceyes has successfully tested its developed eye surgery robot assistant and will test the CMR Versius system for the first time in 2020, becoming a direct competitor of DaVinci surgical robot. DaVinci has 5,300 units of install bases worldwide.

At the same time, the two leading companies in the orthopedics field have taken different paths. The Stryker ’s Mako robot replaces the surgeon ’s hand with integrated tools and a multi-degree-of-freedom robotic arm, while Smith&Nephew ’s Navio handheld robot system is designed to expand doctors ’hand operation capabilities.

Outside the operating room, we will also witness the initial development of robots in rehabilitation, such as limb recovery for stroke patients, but the commercialisation of the product may take some time.

Trend 6: Multi-use drug delivery devices

With the increasing number of diabetic patients worldwide, the demand for insulin infusion devices and other therapeutic devices continues to grow. At present, most of these therapies are based on disposable devices. However, with the increasing awareness of plastic waste in developed countries and the expansion of developing countries in diagnosis and treatment, it indicates that products that have been used repeatedly will become the focus of pharmaceutical companies.

In 2020, IDC designed single and multiple injection pens for diabetes self-management and other therapies will be available. As more connected devices enter the high-end market, inhalation therapy will continue to evolve. In the mass market, due to the demand in many markets, we will also see more drug dosing devices.