Top MedTech Trends to Watch in 2024

As the MedTech industry continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, professionals across the sector are keenly observing emerging trends that promise to reshape healthcare delivery, patient engagement, and operational efficiency in 2024. This blog highlights the integration of advanced technologies and regulatory strategies aimed at enhancing healthcare outcomes and patient experiences. From the transformative potential of Generative AI and the immersive experiences of the Medaverse to the precision of Robotic Surgery and the advancements in Digital Health, each trend represents a significant leap towards a more connected, efficient, and patient-centered healthcare ecosystem.

1. Use of Generative AI to Enhance Delivery and Patient Engagement:

Generative AI (GenAI) is making significant strides in healthcare, enhancing diagnostic accuracy, patient care, and operational efficiency. With AI’s application predominantly aiding radiologists and pathologists, the FDA has approved over 520 AI/ML-enabled medical devices, reflecting the technology’s growing integration into healthcare. The agency’s development of draft guidance and a Predetermined Change Control Plan (PCCP) aims to ensure the safe use of AI, addressing challenges like device recalls and enhancing transparency in AI-driven solutions. GenAI’s capability to analyze unstructured data is revolutionizing personalized medicine, with leaders such as Siemens Healthineers and DiagnaMed leveraging it for advanced radiological and neurological applications. Yet, the FDA remains cautious, particularly with devices powered by Large Language Models, emphasizing a balanced approach to AI’s potential and risks.

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2. The Rise of the Medaverse

The integration of Extended Reality (XR)—including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR)—is transforming healthcare delivery by blending physical and virtual worlds for realistic simulations. These immersive technologies are enhancing preoperative planning, intraoperative guidance, and medical education, paving the way for the “Medaverse,” a digital space for training and collaboration. With applications in wound care, pain management, rehabilitation, and telehealth, XR is improving patient experiences and outcomes. The FDA’s clearance of around 40 AR/VR devices across various medical specialties marks significant progress. However, the ethical, social, and legal implications of XR in healthcare necessitate clear guidelines and patient-centered development to ensure equitable and safe access to these innovative technologies.

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3. Enhancement of Precision Through Robotic Surgery

Robotic and Robotic-Assisted Surgery (RAS) is transforming the global healthcare landscape by offering minimally invasive surgical options with unprecedented accuracy and reliability. Advances in technology have enabled the miniaturization of RAS instruments, incorporating features like miniature cameras, 3D imaging, and immersive technologies to improve surgical precision, lower costs, and broaden access to complex procedures. The introduction of telesurgery expands the possibilities for cross-border operations and tele-mentoring, promoting worldwide medical education and collaboration. Significant investments, highlighted by EndoQuest Robotics’ $42 million and CMR Surgical’s $165 million funding rounds, reflect the robust growth and potential of RAS to optimize surgical outcomes and efficiency globally.

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4. The Rise of Digital Health

Digital health is transforming healthcare delivery through IoT, wearables, and remote monitoring, ushering in an era of personalized patient care and enhanced engagement. With the advancement of AI and XR technologies, medical device companies are innovating with user-centric wearables, smart fabrics, and hospital-at-home solutions to monitor health metrics and detect illnesses early. Innovations such as electronic finger rings, voice-controlled devices, and smart textiles are leading the charge towards more interactive and responsive patient care. Notable developments include Vital View Technologies and VitalConnect’s use of FDA-cleared software for remote monitoring of congestive heart failure, demonstrating the potential of digital tools in managing chronic conditions. The post-pandemic boom in telemedicine and telepsychiatry, alongside apps like Akili’s EndeavorRx for ADHD, highlights the growing reliance on digital solutions for mental health care and flexible patient service delivery.

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5. The 5G Revolution

The advent of 5G technology is set to transform the healthcare industry by overcoming the limitations of 4G, such as speed and latency, thus enabling a more efficient and real-time healthcare delivery system. With data transfer rates approximately 100 times faster than current networks, 5G will significantly improve the transmission of large medical images, streamline diagnoses, and facilitate expert consultations. This technology promises to advance personalized care, optimize resource utilization, and increase patient satisfaction through faster and more reliable connections.

5G’s impact extends to enabling telesurgery, enhancing the use of immersive technologies, and improving video analytics for medical purposes. Innovations like BioIntelliSense’s 5G-enabled medical devices, Chunghwa Telecom and Ericsson’s 5G-connected ambulances, and GE Healthcare’s 5G Innovation Lab exemplify the practical applications of 5G in healthcare.

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6. Regulatory Advances Boost Safety and Accessibility

The FDA’s new de novo classification rule clarifies the device authorization process, aiming for a balance between public health and industry efficiency. This move, along with targeted inspections for cases with significant concerns, enhances device safety and innovation. The FDA also implemented guidelines under Section 506J to combat device shortages during public health emergencies, ensuring manufacturers maintain critical device supply.

Key industry advancements include LumiThera’s potential market entry with its Valeda Light Delivery System for macular degeneration, following a de novo request. CGBio’s NOVOSIS PUTTY received a Breakthrough Device Designation for quicker approval, and Rehabtronics achieved MDSAP certification, expanding its global reach. These developments reflect the FDA’s support for MedTech innovation, prioritizing both patient safety and market accessibility.

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7. Smart Solutions for Supply Chain:

The MedTech industry is leveraging smart supply chain solutions to address the challenges highlighted by the pandemic, such as device shortages, delayed surgeries, and supply chain disruptions. The implementation of End-to-End Visibility and Supply Chain Control Towers offers solutions to issues like data silos and the need for real-time visibility, facilitating data-driven decision-making. Enhancements in supplier risk profiling and diversification improve sourcing, while advanced forecasting and inventory management optimize the supply chain further. Blockchain technology plays a pivotal role in transforming supply chain management by ensuring traceability, authenticity, and patient safety, creating a unified, decentralized system that enhances transparency and efficiency. This approach not only addresses the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic but also steers the industry towards a more resilient, patient-centric, and digitally advanced future, underscoring the industry’s commitment to innovation and sustainability.

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8. Sustainable Innovation in MedTech

MedTech companies are actively advancing sustainability through innovative manufacturing, materials, and eco-friendly practices to minimize environmental impact, economic costs, and enhance social value. By reprocessing medical devices, they significantly cut waste and ozone depletion, using Lifecycle Assessments (LCAs) to understand and mitigate product impacts. Embracing green procurement and aligning with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, these companies are working towards carbon neutrality amid regulatory and investor pressures. Energy efficiency and sustainable building practices, including the use of renewable energy sources, are becoming standard as firms adapt to stricter environmental regulations. The role of Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) or Chief ESG Officers (CESGOs) is becoming more prevalent, focusing on sustainability, stakeholder engagement, and compliance. The industry faces challenges in packaging waste, device longevity, and disposal, pushing towards circular economy goals. This shift towards sustainability is not only a regulatory compliance strategy but also a pathway to revenue generation and long-term industry resilience.

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9. Strengthening Cybersecurity in Healthcare

The healthcare sector faces escalating cyber threats, emphasizing the need for stringent cybersecurity standards for internet-connected medical devices. The rapid evolution of the cybersecurity landscape, marked by the rise of AI, automated vehicles, and 5G networks, introduces new vulnerabilities, especially in the Internet of Things (IoT). Persistent threats, including ransomware, cyber warfare, and insider risks, necessitate continuous monitoring and robust security measures. In response, the healthcare industry is prioritizing the cybersecurity of medical devices amidst growing digitalization and connectivity, spurred by the tangible impact of cyberattacks on healthcare services. Regulatory bodies like the FDA, Health Canada, and MHRA are collaborating on guidelines to ensure the secure implementation of AI and machine learning in medical devices. The Omnibus Appropriations bill enhances the FDA’s regulatory powers over medical device cybersecurity, advocating for a comprehensive approach to protect sensitive data. This collective move towards improved cybersecurity measures underscores the critical importance of safeguarding healthcare services against digital threats.

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10. Navigating Payment Changes

Recent shifts in healthcare reimbursement focus on cost efficiency and supporting innovation. The approval of Ambu’s aScope 5 Broncho HD series for transitional pass-through payment by the CMS in December 2023 exemplifies efforts to back medical device advancements. Additionally, the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA) from November 2023 aims to update Medicare laboratory service rates, promoting both routine care and diagnostic innovation. July 2023 saw CMS proposing updates for FY2024, potentially increasing rates by 2.8% for IPPS hospitals meeting quality and EHR criteria, reflecting a push towards value-based reimbursement. However, these proposals also consider reducing Medicare DSH and uncompensated care payments by $115 million, balancing innovation encouragement with financial sustainability.

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This is just the beginning!

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Co-authors

Picture of Divay Gandhi
Divay Gandhi

Client Engagement Director

Picture of  Aishwarya Paul
Aishwarya Paul

Senior Research Analyst

Conclusion:

As the MedTech landscape undergoes significant transformations driven by advancements in technology, regulatory updates, and shifts in healthcare delivery models, professionals within the sector face both unprecedented opportunities and complex challenges. Navigating the intricate web of trends requires not just awareness but strategic action. Cetas Healthcare stands at the forefront of this dynamic environment, offering expertise and solutions that enable MedTech companies to not only adapt to these changes but to thrive within them. With a deep understanding of the regulatory nuances, technological advancements, and market demands, Cetas Healthcare is uniquely positioned to guide businesses through the maze of innovation and regulation.

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