TED: It has had a big impact. It is opening up a new frontier in medtech. Sure telemedicine has been around for a while. But only lately have the devices that support telemedicine and remote sensing been mades so they can interact with a smart phone. And, only in the last few years have smart phones become capable of handling the required apps. Finally, regulatory authorities have begun to clear the way for these technologies. AI is a big part of the entire equation. VR perhaps not as much. One of my favorite interviews this year was with the Pres of AMD Global Telemedicine.
SKENDER: I think it is still too early to determine the impact of AI at this stage. I believe "AI" is one of those concepts that mirrors "the cloud" from 10 years ago - everyone thinks they know what it means, but only a few people truly understand it. With that said, I believe it has the potential to have the largest impact on medicine (and the same with so many other industrial sectors) of anything in modern history - and COVID has only accelerated it's need. VR on the other hand has gained significantly more traction over the last 3 years, but again, COVID is greatly accelerating the adoption curve. VR is reducing the training and uptake calculus of new technologies already, and with an ever increasing focus on virtual solutions, VR is about to enter the mainstream.
FRANK: At the moment, AI and VR have had a small impact. VR has the ability to lead and make significant strives in the physician preference space and on the education side. Although AI is in play, it's adoption is questionable. Like IoT, AI is too broad. Most find it to be a NEW toy they can live without...it's all about outcomes and usable data.
TED: Find a way for the low tech product to share data with the wearables. This may give the low tech product more value.
SKENDER: The crossing of consumerism in healthcare and patient-centered marketing makes this the most opportune time for lower-tech products and wearables. As patients begin to advocate in the same manner they advocate for themselves in other purchasing decisions, their ability to exert greater control over the products used in their treatments and therapies will continue to grow with it. Now is the time for progressive-minded medtech organizations to "see around the corner" and begin modifying their marketing practices to the patient/consumer.
SCOTT: It's important for lower tech companies to market like consumer companies. With the growth in consumerism in healthcare, GTM will necessarily change to incorporate the end user in the decision making process, which is different than traditional medtech marketing approaches.
TED: If you are talking about overall industry growth in 2021, I say not much. This is because the company initiating the M&A is still constrained by the economic factors that will hold MedTech back. On the other hand, low interest rates and vulnerable companies could make some acquisition attractive due to the tamping down of valuation.
SKENDER: I believe that 2021/2022 will represent one of the most robust periods for M&A in history. The reason is a combination of the growing divide between the "haves" (those organizations that thrived during COVID) and the "have nots" (those that were de-prioritized as a result of COVID) along with a cheap interest rate environment (i.e. lowered borrowing/leveraging costs) will result in a peak in M&A across both the provider and supplier sides. There will be organizations who had strong foundations coming into 2020 only to find themselves in tenuous cash positions in 2021 and therefore prematurely forcing them to seek strategic acquisitions for survival. With what I expect to be a fair volume of potentially distressed organizations, it will further drive down the asking multiples, transpiring in a third driver of increased M&A activity for this period. That will change everything from innovation and growth across various modalities that will be at a deficit of attention.
SCOTT: I think bolt-on acquisitions will be a driver of growth, especially when it establishes a commercial footprint in new accounts. The name of the game is access today and that'll be a key factor in determining who wins/loses over the next several years. I do see M&A diminshing in a few years when the gov't stimulus checks increase inflation, necessitating an increase in interest rates.
TED: Telemedicine devices, telemedicine software and remote sensing. Also micro devices like diagnostic devices you swallow.
SKENDER: Anything "tele" or "IOT" is going to get the most attention in near the term. I also believe anything having to do with "prevention" will received increased awareness as the global consumer has the impetus to be more invested in their health and well-being than ever before.
SCOTT: Anything Infection Control. Additionally, if I was to point to NEW areas of opportunity, I like sleep and gut health plays. Finally, I think companies that are pivoting to software being a big part of their offering are set up for success, especially as it relates to data aggregation and analysis to drive better outcomes.
TED: I work with companies all over the world. Australia to Kazahstan. The Canadian market is similar to the US in terms of how Canadian health care professionals look at MedTech. The differences occur when it comes to regulatory approval and reimbursement.
SKENDER: We have worked with a few Canadian firms in the past, and have had several engagements in the country, so we are certainly willing and able to facilitate any reasonable requests for solutions we provide.
SCOTT: Unfortunately for the world, I do not have a Canadian twin, but it would be interesting to imagine. My parents are from New Brunswick, so there may be a good option up there. We have done work with Canadian practices on the DTC side and our experience is that there aren't significant differences in how to go to market digitally in Canada and the US. The differences are tactical (no testimonials, CASL law requirements around email, etc.)
TED: First, understand digital solutions enough that you have an idea as to what you want it to accomplish for you (lead generation, revenues, etc.). Once you understand the value, it is easy to compare it to other marketing and sales expenses. Like I said in the webinar, digital solutions are not as expensive as you may believe. For example, current virtual trade shows can be expensive with little return. Meanwhile a well executed digital solution is working for you 24/7 bringing in interested prospects and moving them to the sales team.
SKENDER: I think the first task is to take an esoteric term like "digital solution" and make it more meaningful to your targeted audience. Terms like "AI" sound cool, but very few people have an actual grasp on what it means. Additionally, we have repeatedly witnessed multiple high-tech solutions presenting high efficacy flounder due to the intimidation factor of technology on their targeted clinician and patient populations. Tech still needs to be easy to understand and easy to use if it's going to have any adoption in medicine.
SCOTT: This is probably better in a conversation than a short response. In short, you are going to want to do a market research effort to make that decision.