The medical technology industry is one of the most dynamic segments of our economy. Today, this segment is advancing rapidly and introducing various new technological solutions.
Simultaneously, the industry is experiencing consolidation through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as industry players seek continued growth. This consolidation, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, has strained supply chains and challenged medical device companies' growth and development strategies.
As a multi-billion dollar industrial technology leader with global scale, localized engineering expertise and relationships with more than 1,500 medical device companies worldwide, TE Connectivity has a front seat to many of the trends emerging in the medical technology space.
Emerging Trends in Medical Technology
A Device-First Approach for Minimally Invasive Treatments
Historically, diseases have been treated pharmacologically, via intensive surgery, or often a combination of both. Surgical procedures frequently involve significant bodily trauma, long recovery times, not to mention burdensome healthcare costs. However, with today's technology, patients can many times have the same or better outcomes through a minimally invasive approach. Using devices such as catheters dramatically reduces the risk, recovery time and costs associated with more complex operations.
Take, for example, stroke treatment, a prime example of the benefits of this approach in action. “Time is brain,” as they say, is a fundamental aspect of stroke treatment; in each minute of a stroke, 1.9 million neurons, 14 billion synapses, and 12 km (7.5 miles) of myelinated fibers are destroyed. Whereas strokes have traditionally been addressed through pharmaceutical treatments which aim to dissolve the clot over time, landmark procedures that leverage new technologies allow physicians to use a device-first approach to physically remove the clot – a direct, rapid treatment with better patient outcomes.
Real-Time Patient Monitoring
Advanced sensor technologies are transforming medical devices into smart devices, enabling physicians to monitor temperature, pressure and position, and giving them access to a vast quantity of previously inaccessible data. This new wealth of information allows doctors to reach new areas of the anatomy and conduct real-time patient monitoring. To borrow an example from the automotive market, it’s like moving from conventional vehicles to fully autonomous cars guided by highly intelligent systems that can ingest and process huge amounts of data and make adjustments in micro-seconds.
As a leading provider of sensor solutions across many industries, we are excited about the potential for advanced sensor technology in the medical field. Our IntraSense Micro-Invasive Pressure Sensor is smaller than the tip of a pencil, making it small enough to mount on a variety of tools, including catheters, guidewires, endoscopes and needles. In addition, this technology is an improvement on external sensors, delivering more accurate information in real-time.
Leveraging Technology to Reduce Disease Transmission
Today, there is a heightened awareness of the need to ensure safe and clean medical facilities. Since early 2020, the focus has been on reducing the transmission of COVID-19. But for many years, the concern has been around healthcare-associated infections, which the CDC estimates sicken almost two million people each year in American hospitals alone. These "Superbug" outbreaks are often linked to contaminated surfaces and medical tools, such as endoscopes, which have largely been developed as reusable technologies and are very difficult to clean. Thus, the use of single-use medical scopes has become imperative.
In partnership with our customers, TE Connectivity is currently developing advanced, cost-efficient, single-use endoscope technology that provides medical professionals with high-grade tools while minimizing infection risk through reuse, ultimately reducing disease transmission among both patients and hospital workers.
While continuously evolving compared to some of the existing technologies in the industry, automated technologies —including robotics — are an intriguing area for the next wave of advanced medical technology.
Robo-assisted surgery allows doctors to perform complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques. With TE Connectivity's existing engineering expertise, along with our footprint in the medical industry, we are primed to design advanced solutions for a robo-assisted medical future.
In Vitro Diagnostics
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we are in a critically short supply of rapid detection and diagnostic capabilities, including solutions that can be self-administered at home. Now, we have the power to radically change the practice, speed and accessibility of complex molecular testing for a variety of diseases. In vitro diagnostics will play a crucial role in enabling earlier detection of disease, and in turn, allowing for earlier preventative action.
Read further insights from TE about Medical Device Innovation
The future of medicine will be realized by advanced technologies that remove human risk and supply healthcare professionals with vast volumes of previously inaccessible information. From miniaturized, advanced sensor technology to connectivity solutions enabling a new era of digital medicine, TE Connectivity is proud to be working in partnership with the medical community to usher in a new era in medical technology that leads to better patient outcomes and improves overall patient health.
For more information about TE Connectivity, please visit: te.com
About the Author
Pat Duane is senior vice president and general manager of TE’s Medical business, where he leads a global team that helps customers solve their toughest design challenges and deliver breakthroughs in medical science. With more than 30 years of experience in the medical device industry, Pat is a named inventor on over 11 internationally issued patents. Prior to TE, Pat served as an executive with Creganna Medical and led global operations during Creganna’s integration with TE, following its acquisition in 2016. He also held senior management roles with Medtronic and CR Bard, in business development and R&D. Pat holds a Doctorate in Business from Henley Management College, London and a Master's in Engineering Design from University College Dublin.