By KELLI MURRAY, CEO, MedSpeaks & Co-Founder Health Innovators
The medical device landscape is an important one for many reasons - one of them being that it is a leading area for capital investment. According to a recent report by CBInsights, global funding in 2017 is expected to reach $6.6B with over 700 funded deals, a 5 year high - with most of these transactions happening here in the U.S. Additionally, the range of market applications for devices is extremely diverse and support a variety of specialty areas such as general surgery, cardiovascular and orthopedic to evolving areas such as neurology, urology, and ophthalmology.
From a "big data" perspective, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become paramount as intelligent data and devices converge. The result aims to produce personalized pathways in terms of when and how health care is delivered. Additionally, expect to see a fresh onset of new devices ranging from lifestyle management and monitoring, imaging and diagnostics, and, of course, wearables and they will forever change the way by which patients and physicians engage.
In June, The Nicholson Center at Florida Hospital Celebration was the very gracious host for our free Health Innovators community event focused on Medical Device innovation. The event brought together nearly a hundred people, including 16 startup companies plus technologists, physicians, investors, incubators, ideators, economic development leaders, and support providers of our ever-growing healthcare ecosystem.
The forum moderator was Roger Smith, the Nicholson Center's Chief Technology Officer. Roger is responsible for establishing the technology strategy and leading health-tech research experiments at the Nicholson Center, and was the perfect guide for this conversation.
Our panel of experts were:
- Jack Abid, Patent Attorney with ADD&G, one of Florida's oldest and largest law firms practicing intellectual property law.
- Errol Singh, MD, Urologist, Founder and CEO of PercuVision® LLC, inventor of a camera guided Foley catheter that reduces pain and complications from difficult catheterizations.
- Vanaja Ragavan, MD, Endocrinologist, CEO of Aviana Molecular Technologies and expert in FDA regulations and medical affairs for global pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Many questions were discussed but opinions varied when it came to the topic of what kind of impact and role tech giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft will have on medicine.
Roger: "Google, for example, in the robotics space, may emerge as a second-tier player by bringing big data and intelligence to match your case with a personalized approach."
Dr. Singh: "I believe these organizations will be big players; predominately in terms of Artificial Intelligence in the use of medical procedures."
Dr. Ragavan: "Augmented Reality (AR) is emerging from these companies - this is a big deal and very important in the healthcare space."
Jack: "I have doubts about their staying power. This (healthcare) is a different space and not as easily scalable. There are privacy issues...let's face it, Google profits from a person's data and this is a conflict for the healthcare industry."
I pondered these opinions and decided to dig into the giants to find out the latest on device invention and investment. Here's what I found.
Google Ventures has taken the lead on the quantity of investments. The company is hedging their risks by diversifying their (data) portfolio with a variety of healthcare companies ranging from life science and insurance to tech and wearables. Meanwhile Apple appears to be maintaining its focus on personal health and fitness data. Microsoft tried its hand in health care but sold its Health Solutions Group to GE last year. It's now turned its focus towards its technology strengths in the Intelligent Cloud and leveraging growing its AI and AR capabilities.
A few recent examples of device developments for 3 of the top 5 tech giants (excluding Facebook and Amazon):
- May 2017, Google's holding company, Alphabet. Inc., and its life science research arm, Verily, recently published a patent on a device worn on the wrist. The device contains a diagnostic method that uses contrast agents to identify blood particles such as specific proteins and antibodies.
- March 2017, Apple published a patent that measures intraocular (blood) pressure using sensors worn on the wrist. (Perhaps a new addition to Apple Watch technology.)
- Stryker is incorporating Microsoft's HoloLens AR platform to enable remote planning of operating room designs without needing physical mock setups.
Let's cover Amazon for just a moment because there's potential for a medical device-like play here. It's been widely published that Amazon may take serious aim at the multi-billion-dollar retail pharmacy market. (In case you missed it, in April, Japan was the first market where Amazon began selling Class I drugs online.). Knowing this, I can't help but contemplate whether Amazon will jockey for partnership or acquisition with smart pill bottles such as Orlando-based company, SMRxT simply because it could fit squarely into Amazon's auto-fulfillment and Dash platforms. Medication adherence is a well-known, complex problem and it seems feasible that this approach could be a win particularly for senior care.
Speaking of senior care, one of my favorite quotes of the event came from Jack in regard to a question about what future opportunities exist in geriatrics. He said, "As baby boomers age, it's all about the issue of scalability around mobility. Without enough doctors, we will literally be forced to change the way care is delivered." Dr. Singh comically opined, "If you live long enough, you're going to end up in the hands of a urologist. Telemed (technologies) that keeps patients where they are instead of transporting them, is the future. The need is already here." In response to a growing need to keep geriatric patients in the home, Dr. Ragavan added that "mobile diagnosis of patients in their homes is imperative to early diagnosis and treatment of things like infections and strokes."
When it comes to breakthrough innovation, the ongoing dialog exchange is not only important among experts, but also young companies determined to drive change in an industry going through massive shifts in care and payment models. To see such talent congregating, learning, and building relationships is exactly the reason why Florida is poised for growth. It's up to us to collectively build bridges and move the proverbial needle in supporting meaningful, tangible medical inventions.
Do you have an invention or a natural curiosity about new developments happening locally? If so, then now is the time to get involved. There are a host of opportunities to share your expertise, ideas, patents, tools and devices with a group eager to engage, connect and grow.
Join the movement at www.meetup.com/FLHealth%20%20 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KynderMed: Patented, effective light therapy mask reduces the frequency, intensity, and duration of preterm contractions to such a low level that birth is less likely to occur. Learn more: www.kyndermed.com
EASE: (Electronic Access to Surgical Events) is a simple and HIPAA secure medical communication and survey platform used to educate and update families on the status of patients throughout the hospital experience. Proven to improve HCAHPS scores. Learn more: www.easeapplications.com
Prevacus: Biopharmaceutical company developing drug candidates to advance treatment of traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders. Its first nasal neuro-steroid candidate (PRV-002) represents a breakthrough for treating concussion working at the molecular level to simultaneously reduce inflammation, swelling, ischemic injury and oxidative stress. Learn more: http://prevacus.com/
LUMI: Developed by CloudWell Labs, this patent-pending, home-use smart device examines patient-assisted vitals, images, and sounds for a more accurate TeleMed visit. Learn more: www.cloudwelllabs.com
The Intersection of IP and Healthcare: An Expert Forum. July 18 | Noble Headquarters, Orlando | www.meetup.com/FLHealth/events
Cardiovascular, Allergy, & Respiratory Summit (CARPS) - 24 CMEs July 31 - Aug 2 | Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Orlando | http://carps-cme.org/
Pain Care For Primary Care Meeting - 18.5 CMEs August 3-5 | Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Orlando | http://pcpc-cme.com/
AHA's Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) September 24-27| |Marriott World Center, Orlando | www.shsmd.org/conference/17/