The Real Future of Medtech: An Opinion
I see graphics (and, please help me, “infographics”) on the the future of medtech. These are graphics produced most often by analysts who are walking backward looking at their feet; in other words, living by the tenet of “past is prologue”. The leading companies of five years from now can be simply predicted by a 5-year extrapolation of last year’s revenue growth. Has “forecasting” really simply become a distillation of “more of the same”?
The future of medtech is dictated far more importantly by not what has already happened, or some expectation that past trends will simply continue on into future trends, but by what has not happened yet. The major thrust of any significant growth (and isn’t growth that in which we are most interested?) comes primarily from events that have not yet happened. Do you want to be Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer? Do you want to create demand or belatedly follow it?
If you have a short-sighted or narrow view, then you consider your competitors all who do what you do but who do it better, faster or cheaper. If you have a long view, you consider what might be possible based on available/emerging technology to tap into untapped demand or simply create latent demand that no company has yet been sufficiently visionary or innovative to seize. What patient populations, clinical practice patterns and their trends are the pulse that you monitor (or are you even monitoring these)? There is a gap between what is available and a whole set of patients virtually untreated, physicians unsatisfied, and third party payers struggling. Are you an angioplasty catheter manufacturer — or a coronary artery disease solution? Do you make devices — or outcomes?
Look at staid “device” companies like Baxter International and see that they have “biosurgery” divisions. Look at Medtronic and appreciate that they are as sensitive to developments in glucose monitoring and insulin pump technologies as they are to the litany of cell therapy approaches under pursuit.
Virtually every area of current clinical practice is subject to change when considering drug/device hybrids, biomaterials, nanotechnology/MEMs devices and coatings, biotechnology, pharmaceutical (and its growing sophistication in drug development), western medicine and eastern medicine, healthcare reform, cost containment, RFIDs, 3D printing, information technology – we hope you see the upside in this and not just the downside.
Of course companies, especially public ones, must consider the revenue streams in both Year 0 and Year 5, but if the focus is only on Year 0, then that number will also be the ROI in five years.