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Smart Medical Devices: An Rx for Life Sciences Business Success


Manufacturers that listen to and act on the data generated by IoT-connected devices will thrive in the digital economy.

Medical device manufacturers face a host of concerns: heightened competition, continuous innovation, compressed product lifecycles, closer regulatory scrutiny and complex approval cycles. Many of these challenges can be surmounted, however, by leveraging Internet of Things (IoT). These connected systems can enable manufacturers to quickly link and share data, improve customer experiences, sharpen efficiencies, heighten responsiveness and better inform future innovation.

In fact, healthcare IoT is expected to reach an estimated $117 billion by 2020, according to some estimates. By seizing the opportunity that IoT technologies enable, medical device companies can realize three key benefits. 

A differentiated user experience. 

IoT-enabled devices close the gap between device owners and technology providers. For example, one of our clients previously relied on field representatives to manually update software and firmware, based on device usage data, such as surgery type, tool-usage sequence and the amount of time spent on incision, ablation and cautery. After helping the client develop an IoT-powered solution to connect its more than 10,000 devices in the field, the company now saves thousands of hours per year by optimizing the IoT-enabled devices and laying the foundation for connected field-service management.

Streamlined operations and lower costs. 

IoT-generated data streams allow manufacturers to actively monitor the condition and use of their devices in real-time. Devices that trigger treatment, service, replacement and defect alerts immediately offer a more responsive service platform, and as technology capabilities advance, manufacturers will be able to issue software updates and perform service remotely, in real-time. Addressing problems before they arise by analyzing usage data and predicting potential issues can significantly reduce costly downtime and lower recalls.   

Instant feedback. 

With the IoT, research and development groups no longer have to rely on manual processes, surveys, focus groups and other third-party data to inform product development. The IoT replaces the human feedback cycle with real-time, highly automated and readily available data from the devices themselves. This eliminates errors in gathering qualitative reviews, allowing development teams to build and prioritize features throughout the product lifecycle. 

Companies can develop their next-generation products based on real usage data that reveals features that are most critical to end users. This capability can differentiate the product and build customer loyalty by providing automated updates. An example is a device that improves glycemic control through real-time monitoring of insulin administration.

Monitor, Manage, Monetize

Company stakeholders often have different agendas when it comes to developing an IoT strategy (i.e., R&D has different priorities from IT, which has different priorities from manufacturing and other business units). Device manufacturers that want to monitor, manage and monetize IoT data must first identify how an enterprise-connected services model can best be developed and delivered. This involves understanding the processes that are best suited to as IoT business model and setting a long-term strategy for optimizing the company’s IT and business assets, gauging risk and measuring success. 

Additionally, IoT strategies must comply with regulatory requirements and current safety standards, as well as consider data security and privacy. Importantly, organizations must be prepared to overcome the challenges of collaborating and sharing data across multiple data sources.

In short, IoT’s global network of sensors and touchpoints is already raising the bar across the healthcare spectrum — allowing device manufacturers, labs, healthcare providers and patients to reap more benefits from the increasingly digital, closely connected and highly competitive market.

To learn more, please read “The Internet of Things: An Excellent Prognosis for Medical Device Makers” or visit our Healthcare, IoT and Medical Devices practices.

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Smart Medical Devices: An Rx for Life Sciences Business Success