Medtech Resolutions for 2013: Open Innovation, Harmonisation and Enlightenment (Literally)

December 20, 2012 – 6:06 pm

As we bid adieu to 2012, we asked some of our friends and colleagues what, if any, new year’s resolutions they would like to make for themselves or on behalf of the medtech industry. Here is a sampling of what we received. We also invite you to add your thoughts in the comments box: What would you like to achieve in 2013? What resolutions would you like to see the medtech industry take on board in the new year?

If you are a regular reader, you will recognise the name of indefatigable Erik Vollebregt. We often link to his blog posts on medicaldeviceslegal, which he somehow manages to maintain when not tending to his day job as a medico-legal specialist at Axon Lawyers. True to form, he vows to do even more in 2013.

“My new year’s resolution is to work even harder on my blog and share useful legal and regulatory information, and to help more small and medium sized companies with EU device questions via Question Time on my firm’s website. And of course, I will strive to maintain a positive personal risk/benefit ratio with as few incidents and corrective actions as possible!” Vollebregt also has a suggestion for the medtech industry. “I hope that international harmonisation progresses—that the GHTF legacy is taken up by IMDRF, that US FDA and the European Union bury the hatchet on who has the better system, and that intra-EU authorities finally start cooperating on a common regulatory goal. The only way to regulate devices well and to give everybody access to the newest medical technology is by means of across-the-board good faith and effective cooperation. Make innovation, not squabbles, and allocate the resources to make that happen.”

Paru Deshpande, Program Director, Life Science Technologies, at Belgium’s R&D organisation imec, places at the top of his wish list an open innovation model for the medical industry. “I believe this is the only way to reduce rising costs for the development of new drugs and diagnostic tools. Above all, this model will increase the pace of innovation and the rate at which new technologies are introduced into the market,” writes Deshpande.

“At our research institute, we introduced this open innovation model for the semiconductor industry back in the 1980s and it proved to be very successful,” adds Deshpande. It led large companies to work together on early-stage technologies and to share costs and risks. “I believe it’s time for the medical community to turn to this open innovation model. It’s the only way to bring better treatments to market in a faster and more cost-effective way,” he explains.

Christoph Lhota, Head of Engel Medical, doesn’t have a desiderata as much as a prediction. “Thanks to capacitive electronics, controls are hidden beneath a continuous, smooth and durably resistant surface that is easy to clean. A technology that has mainly been implemented for automotive applications, it will attract the interest of medical technology manufacturers to a greater degree in 2013,” he writes. This technology will completely replace mechanical switches, buttons and control knobs in electronic medical equipment deployed in sterile environments, predicts Lhota.

Manfred Beeres, Head of Communications at German device industry association BVMed, would like to see more opportunities for innovation. “It is important for us to have clear perspectives for medical device innovations in 2013. This includes extended and improved research development programmes; finding new ways to finance clinical studies; developing more and better university programmes related to medical device technology, development and design; revising standards and regulations, as appropriate; and increasing networking between the medical device and IT industries. Last but not least, it’s important that we continue to strengthen Germany’s leading position in the medical technology and healthcare sector. For that we need a strong domestic market,” adds Beeres.

David Hill, Ronin Solutions and EMDT editorial advisory board member, had a downright biblical moment as he pondered prospects for 2013. “Let there be light,” he writes. “Is it not time for all those product designers to knuckle down and create the ideal light source for medical use? Whenever you talk with surgeons, somewhere in the conversation the whinge starts: ‘not enough good light, poor access to lighting, cannot see correctly to do the job properly.’ Well let’s shed some light on the subject (poor pun intended).

“Scientists in the United States and Ireland are working on a new type of light source that will be flicker free, brighter than florescent sources and more energy efficient than an LED,” writes Hill.

Field induced polymer electroluminescent light source (FIPEL) technology involves three layers of white emitting plastic containing a small amount of nanomaterial that glows when an electric current passes through, explains Hill. It can be formed into any shape.

“Shape is no longer a problem, voltage is down to a sensible level, and there are no worries about breakage of the device while in use—the technology could lend itself to the design and manufacture of surgical clamps that glow or produce light at the bottom of a wound, where the action is,” writes Hill.

“Why not lighten up, go look for that glimmer of light or flash of illumination so you can radiate among your peers and show that spark of genius that will blaze a trail to new products? Follow up with physicists at Wake Forest University in North Carolina or Trinity College in Dublin. Alternatively, read pages 8 to 18 in the January 2013 issue of Organic Electronics,” writes Hill. You will find it enlightening, he promises.

The medtechinsider team wishes you and yours the merriest of holidays and an innovative and prosperous 2013.

Norbert Sparrow, Yvonne Klöpping and Camilla Andersson

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