Future medical technology: 4 concrete starting points for the digital transformation
One thing is certain: Without the digital transformation, SMEs in the medical technology sector in Germany will have difficulties in being competitive in the future. It is therefore important for decision-makers to set clear corporate strategic goals and to know how the digitization and automation of existing processes can support them in achieving these goals. Existing processes must be digitized to continue to ensure future security and resilience. In order for this digital transformation of a company to be implemented in a meaningful, targeted and successful manner, strategic digitization advice from experienced experts is recommended.
KUMAVISION industry expert Wolfgang Renner has presented various digital approaches. In doing so, he focused on the main topics that will primarily concern medical technology with regard to digitization in the coming years:
The European Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) is currently the biggest and most pressing topic that is driving the medical technology industry. It not only creates increased documentation effort, but also inhibits and increases the cost of innovation. Automation solutions are the only way for companies to cope with the enormous additional effort. An integrated ERP software can, for example, map the necessary processes in an MDR-compliant manner. Integration here means, among other things, the integration of tools and services of the Microsoft platform. With Power BI For example, business data can be recorded and analyzed. With Power Automate, companies can automate reconciliation processes and other routine tasks. Azure IoT Central, for example, helps collect and evaluate device data. However, other software components can also be integrated into the ERP system. This means that development, production, purchasing, quality assurance and management, sales, logistics, customer service, technical field service, financial accounting and controlling can communicate with each other, for example, since all areas work with a uniform database. In this way, processes can be monitored, company areas networked, information processed, data silos avoided and the error rate reduced at the same time. Of course, which tools are meaningfully integrated always depends on the individual process requirements of the respective company.
Digital Business Models
Digitization opens up a multitude of new business models for medical technology companies. Pay-per-use, for example, is already a widespread concept in a number of other industries for monetizing digital business models: Users borrow their equipment as required and only pay a user fee instead of the acquisition costs. This trend will also impact medical device manufacturers. The joint study Trendreport Medical Technology 2020 by Spectaris/Roland Berger shows that 84% of the companies surveyed see digitization in sales and service as the most important trend. 76% see increasing acceptance of telemedicine and accelerated process digitization in medical technology and hospitals. The Internet of Things (IoT) in conjunction with modern industry software provides the necessary IT infrastructure for these challenges.
The shortage of skilled workers is also a major problem in medical technology. Automating routine tasks can help compensate for the lack of staff. But: There is no “one” perfectly automated process. The true "efficiency bringers" often lie in better digitally supported interaction between the groups involved - both internally and with customers and partners. It is important to eliminate media breaks, to define the "single point of truth" so that everyone involved has a view of the same data situation in order to be able to communicate and make decisions better. In this way, unnecessary queries, coordination or time-consuming error corrections can be reduced. I would recommend that processes, tools and the necessary infrastructure should be designed in an overall design to suit the business and the respective digital use cases before diving into individual projects. Architectural changes that are detected too late cause a multiple of effort and costs that can be saved by this procedure.
Although telemedicine is still in its infancy in this country, it is already a strong growth market in other countries. The use of telemedicine for simple complaints and unproblematic clinical pictures results in massive savings for health insurance companies. This also compensates for the chronic shortage of rural doctors to a certain extent. Switzerland, for example, uses the possibilities of telemedicine across the board for the diagnosis and sick leave of patients with illnesses such as simple flu infections, for which a visit to the doctor's office is usually not necessary. Unnecessary visits to the doctor in Switzerland have been reduced by 40%. It is therefore to be expected that this topic will also play a growing role in Germany in the future. Medical device manufacturers can also benefit from the trend.
Medical device manufacturers face a variety of current and future challenges. In addition to tightened regulatory provisions, additional documentation requirements and the ongoing shortage of skilled workers, changing market and customer requirements call for quick, targeted action on the part of management. Existing processes must be digitized in order to continue to guarantee future security and resilience, especially for small and medium-sized companies. With KUMAVISION, medical device manufacturers have an experienced partner at their side who has both the necessary industry knowledge and the corresponding implementation expertise to accompany them safely and success-oriented right from the start.