Medtech predictions for 2021
Three Australian small-cap and start-up executives give their take on what we might see from the medtech industry in 2021.
Dr Hari Nair, Founder and Managing Director at Aegros
2020 has shown the importance of concentrating on advancing medical technology to deal with pandemics like COVID-19. I see 2021 bringing forth major advances in point-of-care diagnostics, including take-home diagnostics such as testing for COVID-19.
I also see advances in the use of respiratory technology for rapid oxygenation and treatment of respiratory diseases.
I envisage that technologies will emerge that allow us to set up major trauma centres in rapid time, including equipment that is portable but advanced enough to work as it would in a major treatment centre. Finally, there is an urgent need for home monitoring systems linked to major trauma centres so that patients who have milder forms of the disease can be monitored in real time but from home.
Jason Waller, CEO of InteliCare
In the last five years there have been two dominant vectors in the medtech industry — a drive towards electronic health records and improved sensor technology. These were propelled by the advent of cloud tech replacing server-based systems, and health has generally been a laggard in this space, with a reliance on paper-based systems that is 30 years in the past. Better battery and power control systems to support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have overcome the range and sustainment problems.
This year, the overlay of telehealth was seen as a dark horse coming up from the rear, and COVID-19 acted as an accelerator. However, telehealth, EHS and sensors all have one common limitation: they are data platforms that act as facilitators. They are not an end in themselves and are essentially just productivity drivers.
2021 will see, however, the rise of aggregator systems. These systems will combine the benefits of data extractions (sensors), data transmission (telehealth) and data repository (EHS) to unlock improved health outcomes. They will link niche devices and systems into a constellation, working together with the use of AI to look for trends across these data platforms that move from active detection to passive prediction. We will see winners and losers pivoting around their abilities to use these technologies and adapt.
For InteliCare this means we are focusing on linking our predictive outcomes to healthcare systems to automate workflows, increasing the range of sensors available in the ‘toolbox’ by picking best in breed as they emerge, and focusing on machine learning methods that move beyond detection of health alerts, but towards the prediction of likely risks.
Peter Ford, Founder and Director of Innovation, Control Bionics
Telepresence became more of a necessity than a novelty in 2020, as more people self-isolated.
We’ve been employing telepresence for our remote clients globally since 2006, but this year, many clients began to favour Zoom support sessions over personal visits.
We can connect with clients’ NeuroNode devices — with their permission — and see their screens, watch their telemetry from their EMG sensors in real time, guide their carers in precisely placing sensors, and upgrade their software and customise their communication screens remotely. Many carers are unfamiliar with technology in general, so we endeavour to provide real-time, live, interactive remote support and encourage people to call us with any questions, so they become comfortable, and confident working with the technology, and maintain continued communication and connection for the clients in their care.
2021 will inevitably progress this expanding remote support service, and consequently progress client and carer confidence in pushing the envelope with our communication and robotic control systems. Wearable, wireless technology will become more seamless to use. Privacy and discretion will rule and align with the need to communicate easily, and control devices such as powered wheelchairs and feeding robotics.
The coming year will see an expansion in personal care robotics — the Obi dining robot is just a beginning. NASA space station’s personal robotics are paving the way to terrestrial robot companions, especially as our population ages and seeks to remain at home for as long as possible. NeuroNode will enable control of all these systems by people with disabilities, including most people with quadriplegia and loss of speech.
2021 will continue our evolution towards more seamless Human Computer Interface as we become increasingly integrated with our technology. It is an exciting time, no more daunting than the advent of personal computers, and ideally far more personally empowering over time.
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