Did you hear the story about the implant that restores movement in Parkinson’s patients, or the neuromodulation chip that restores physical mobility, or the robot surgeon that removes your cataracts? They may all sound like science fiction, but each of these are in use today. Not only that, they are boosting patient care to a new level, delivering unprecedented benefits through the use of advanced technology. Commonly referred to as medical technology or “medtech,” some of the most creative, innovative and powerful interactions between humans and technology occur at the successful intersection of medicine and technology.
The truth is that medtech, however, has been around for a while. From pregnancy tests to ultrasound scans, medical technology is with you from before you are born. Similarly, when you are unwell, diagnostics and medical devices assist healthcare professionals restore you to good health as quickly as possible. Should you need surgery, medical technologies will ensure you get the care you need in a way that is safe and minimally invasive. If your blood vessels become blocked, stents can help clear the way. If you are seriously ill, an MRI scan can find the cause. The point is, that you may not always be aware of medical technologies, but they are always there for you. And guess what? There are going to be more and more medical technologies assisting you and looking after you in the future.
Today there are already 500,000 medical technologies available in hospitals, community-care settings and at home. The global medical devices market alone is expected to reach $543 billion by 2020—that is, in less than 12 months! The medical robots market alone will be worth some $35 billion by 2025, and the global medical implants market will valued at $140 billion by 2025 as well, painting an exponential growth picture in med tech. In Europe alone the market for medical technology is worth €110 billion, with some 27,000 companies involved and some 675,000 people employed in Europe in medical technology.
So what is driving that growth? Mankind has always looked to technology to make things faster, safer and simpler, but specific advancements in technology have made the world of med tech even more progressive and exciting. To start we have miniaturization, and in healthcare terms that translates into less invasive. Think miniature robots, more sophisticated drug delivery systems, scaled down and ever shrinking implants, just to mention a few. Coupled with this is the amazing advancements in design, where today we have a much better understanding of materials, ergonomics, and the human factor, and can therefore healthcare can offer much greater personalized and often truly individual prosthetics, implants and other artificial parts introduced into the body for monitoring, regulating and stimulating.
Finally, we have trust. Today we are placing more trust in technology than ever before, and when it comes to healthcare this is vital. After all, having your eyes operated by a robot takes courage, understanding and belief. Adopting and trusting technology to assist and in some cases replace human interaction requires dedicated communication encompassing education, persuasion and influence.
Medical technologies today save lives, improve health and contribute to sustainable healthcare. Already through innovative devices and diagnostics, the industry is delivering immeasurable value to patients, healthcare professionals, healthcare systems and society. Medical technology companies are also drivers of economic growth and job creation across Europe. Further investment and focus in the advancement of medical technologies will undoubtedly become one of the most powerful antidotes for ensuring mankind continually improves patient care.