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So, how did my predictions go for 2018? Was it a year filled with cyber attacks? And did robot technology replace human hands in manufacturing medical devices? In this retrospective blog post, I will go through my predictions for the past year.

In one of my previous blog post, “The 5 most important Medical Device trends in 2018”, I listed these 5 trends that could prove to be the most important industry trends this past year:

  1. Cyber security and possible increase of cyber attacks
  2. Medical device companies are transforming to be more efficient
  3. The rise of Big Data and digital health
  4. Breakthrough in the use of A.I.-based technologies
  5. IoT & cloud-based solutions and how it would dramatically shape the medical device industry in 2018

So how did it go?

Before we look at the predictions, here is the 2018 global medical device industry in brief:

 

There is little doubt that the coming years will set new landmarks for the industry. One of the drivers behind the growth is powered by digital transformation and the increased use of technology. But as the #implantfiles case has shown, the individual health authorities as well as the industry itself faces some serious risk management challenges in the future.

 

Now, let’s  have a look at last year’s predictions.

1.      Cybersecurity and the possible increase of cyberattacks

The global medical device industry as well as the general healthcare industry has anxiously been waiting for the big cyberthreat in 2018. But in contrast to the indiscriminately “WannaCry”-attack on unpatched Windows-based systems in 2017, an emerging hacker-group called “Orangeworm” successfully infected a number of medical imaging systems in the US this year.

Nearly 40 percent of victims from the “Orangeworm” attacks are part of the medical device and healthcare industries, including medical imaging equipment manufacturers and information technology firms that support medical clinics. About 17 percent of these attacks occurred in the United States, more so than in any other country in 2018.

More info: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2018/04/23/x-ray-machines-taken-over-by-healthcare-hackers/#31a1b18f44c8

2.      Medical device companies are transforming to be more efficient

While the largest players in the medical device industry are at the forefront of digitally transforming their businesses, smaller and medium businesses are beginning to recognize the need to change manual processes and old tools to keep up with the competition.

One good example we saw this year was the German manufacturer of medical and safety technology, Dräger, who initiated a strategic cloud-based PLM initiative as a foundation for its next stage of company growth. By selecting the Aras PLM Platform as its future PLM system to enable enterprise-wide visibility of product data, the Lübeck-based company will supplant Dräger’s legacy systems, connect more than 2,500 users, and be hosted in the cloud.

Read more about it here.

3.      Rise of Big Data and Digital Health

The dramatic growth in the amount of medical and health data from patient has created new opportunities for health organizations as we also saw this year. The ability to extract insights on patients from the massive pool of available data has led to the creation of Electronic health record systems.

Healthcare professionals use the big data to provide diagnosis faster and easier, the data analysis can improve the efficiency within a healthcare organization. And insurance companies use the data to offer tailored insurance products.

As of now, 94% of hospitals in the USA are in the process of adoption EHR’s and by 2020, a centralized European health record is planned to become a reality.

For more on this subject, here is an interesting blog: Big Data in Healthcare

4.      AI-based technologies

The adoption of artificial intelligence technology gained momentum during 2018. Amongst the areas where A.I. -technology was put to use was these:

  • Medical diagnosis. AI applications significantly improve the speed and accuracy of the diagnosis. AI tools help to analyze survey data more quickly and accurately, allowing doctors to be more accurate with diagnoses and to see more patients. Today, AI-based image recognition diagnostic devices are already used to diagnose dermatological and optical deviations, diabetes and other diseases which cause appearance changes.
  • Medical product development. The process of research and development of new drugs is very slow and expensive. Pharmacists need to take into account hundreds of variables starting from financial appropriateness and finishing with legal and ethical issues. Today, AI is used to safely explore chemical and biological interactions in the drug discovery process based on early-stage clinical data. Among the most prominent examples here are IBM Watson and GNS Healthcare AI system used in the search of cancer treatment.
  • Workflow optimization. AI helps to automate such repetitive tasks as routine paperwork, scheduling, and time-sheet entry. These are the task which medical staff often consider to be the most tiresome and frustrating because of their monotony.

Other areas like Clinical insights and interventions, Supply chain management and operational efficiency, Customer service, Security and risk was also affected by the adoption of A.I.-technology this year.

Moving forward, experts forecast the healthcare industry will face complex workforce surpluses and shortages leading up to 2030, making the need for AI technology surge. 

5.      IoT is reinvigorating the medical device market

IoT has influenced many industries during 2018, and the medical device industry is no exception. Integrating IoT features into medical devices greatly improves the quality and effectiveness of service, bringing high value for the elderly, patients with chronic conditions and patients requiring constant supervision. According to this report from McKinsey, spending on the IoT solutions in the healthcare industry will reach a staggering $1 trillion by 2025, potentially setting the stage for highly personalized, accessible healthcare for everyone.

Medical device manufacturer – OEMs, system integrators and others – should consider an enterprise IoT platform to establish cross-device connectivity and be able to implement smart features into medical devices and related software systems. Such a platform will enable companies to meet their IoT objectives faster and at little expense. Consequently, these companies now have a vantage point for further business development that later movers are still yet to claim.

To sum it up:

2018 has been a defining year for digital transformation in the global medical device industry. When reviewing the top trend list, digital technologies in every shape and form stands out as the phenomenon that will impact medical device companies in the industry, big or small.

Companies that does not have an infrastructure that can embrace the digital transformation, will lose the competition, in my opinion.

As always, you can contact me at tsk@minerva-plm.com if you want to know more about the benefits of new technology, digital transformation and industry-specific solutions that is flexible enough to support anything the future may throw at you.

About the author

Thomas Skogen

Thomas is an expert in Supply Chain and Manufacturing Optimization with more than 10 years of experience originating from Medical Device and High-Tech & Electronic Industries. He comes with a background as an Electronics engineer, complimented with a Master in Technology Management. Thomas has held positions in multinational corporations such as Nilfisk, heading the internal optimization program as well as the supply chain organization.

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