LIFE-CHANGING MEDICAL DEVICES: THE NEXT DISRUPTOR IN HEALTHCARE
Why devices are becoming a first line of treatment rather than a last line of defense
Healthcare is on the verge of a disruption brought about by advances in sophisticated, compact medical devices. Today’s devices are having life-changing impact for patients, while at the same time lowering healthcare costs. Consequently, more and more physicians are using medical devices – not as a last line of defense but as a first-line option for treating some of the most serious and debilitating health conditions of our time.
What trends are accelerating the use of devices as firstline treatments?
MP: Increasingly, patients battling complex medical conditions for which treatment options have been limited are now exploring new technologies with their physicians as a result of increased awareness, proven effectiveness and better outcomes.
Contributing to this trend is that devices are smaller and procedures are less invasive, meaning many procedures no longer require a hospital visit, general anesthesia or invasive
1 surgery. For example, our CardioMEMS heart failure monitoring system can be implanted through a catheter inserted in a blood vessel in the leg. After the procedure, the patient may go home and get back to daily activities quickly. Minimally invasive procedures are enabled, in large part, by advances in technology, materials and manufacturing processes that are delivering smaller, more portable, and more patient-friendly devices. Sophisticated imaging equipment and flexible, maneuverable intravenous delivery mechanisms are giving surgeons the capabilities to perform minimally invasive procedures with precision.
Digital technology is often viewed as the next great disruptor in healthcare. How is digital technology contributing to the increased use of devices?
MP: The explosion in data-enabled technology is making it easier than ever to share data across connected devices. Connected technologies enable doctors to monitor patients’ conditions, or even deliver care, from afar. These devices that enable remote monitoring and treatment have the potential to improve patients’ lives and save billions of dollars in the process.
For example, patients who suffer from irregular heartbeats can have a paperclip-sized monitor implanted just below the skin in the chest through a minimally invasive procedure. The Bluetooth-connected device pairs with a patient’s smartphone to automatically upload data, such as heart rate and rhythm and any potential signs of a problem, directly to a hospital, clinic or physician’s office.Doctors can promptly review the data and make timely interventions as needed. Patients, in turn, have real-time visibility of the heart’s function and greater peace of mind knowing they’re connected with their doctor.
Clinical studies show that remote monitoring through connected devices lowers healthcare costs by reducing the number of in-hospital device evaluations, hospital admissions, the length of stay and follow-up officevisits.
Why would a physician recommend a device, especially one that needs to be implanted, over a proven drug?
MP: For many chronic health conditions, like heart failure and rhythm disorders, medicines have been the only treatment option – often indicated to treat symptoms but not the underlying cause.
Today, there’s a growing body of clinical evidence showing that devices can improve outcomes, independent of medicines.
Medical devices can reduce the reliance on medications as the first and only course of action – while improving outcomes and, in many cases, fixing the root cause of the problem. For example, Abbott has launched clinical trials to evaluate ablation as a frontline therapy option for patients suffering from irregular heartbeats who are unresponsive to drug therapy. For years, medication has been a frontline therapy option, but for some patients, medication is ineffective. If we can establish a meaningful body of clinical evidence supporting the use of ablation instead, we think people will greatly benefit.
What are the biggest hurdles in moving medical devices up the patient-care continuum?
MP: Abbott and others in the industry need to help leaders in governments, payors, and health institutions, as well as healthcare professionals around the world understand and recognize the value of medical devices. We need to demonstrate how devices can be a first-line treatment for some of the most prevalent, costly and difficult-to-manage chronic conditions. Our goal is to enable people to get back to health and back to living their lives – faster, more fully, and more independently. Medical devices are the next disruptor to lead us there. ●
1 For Important Safety Information, visit https://abbo.tt/CardioMEMSSafetyInfo
Mike PedersonSenior Vice President, Cardiac Arrhythmias and Heart Failure, Abbott