Virtual engagement is the key to the future success of the medical device industry – Med-Tech Innovation
Kim Hale, Vice President, Medical Device Development at Within3, explains the importance of virtual engagement for life science companies going forward.
Throughout the past year, the medical device industry, like all other industries, has been forced to adapt. Serious disruptions, shifting priorities, and new emerging challenges have all impacted how the industry operates, and with an ever-changing landscape, these challenges promise to impact organizations through 2021 and into. -of the.
But through these problems also come innovation, adaptation and new solutions. For the life science industry, digital trends that were already on the move have been accelerated to the fore. In particular, virtual engagement strategies have become a virtual necessity for growth.
With an eye on future successes, the medical tech industry will re-evaluate its strategy and those who do it first will gain the edge. In this new virtual engagement strategy, companies will need to take a new approach to education, patient engagement and clinical trials, in order to meet their end of contract with the public.
How have medical technology companies innovated in 2020?
In 2020, the engagement landscape has changed forever. Companies had to balance an increasing focus on patient engagement with restrictions on physical contact, varying time availability, and travel restrictions.
While some of these challenges are diminishing, their impact remains. Some forecasters estimate that nearly 40% of business trips may never return, and in 2020, many medical professionals felt they preferred some meetings and events, such as medical conventions, to be virtual.
In addition, many teams have experienced shorter deadlines, productivity gains and better results through virtual interaction. These teams will be more selective in their face-to-face meetings in the future, and many will question the need for a commute when virtual engagement can deliver better results.
Looking to the future of communication with patients
Due to the innovations of the last year, patients are more accustomed to programming and monitoring devices remotely. Regulatory changes that were agreed to in response to the crisis have also facilitated this development. As a result, we expect remote solutions to become a permanent feature of life science communications.
Organizations that embrace this virtual engagement throughout the lifecycle of their products gain a remarkable competitive advantage over those whose adoption is slow. Organizations that embrace this have seen the benefits firsthand. Patient and KOL relationships are built more efficiently when performed through a virtual platform with built-in features designed to produce high quality information.
Improving the competence of a remote workforce through virtual learning
Medical instrument clusters were better positioned than most to navigate the shift to remote work. Their current knowledge of virtual technology for training and internal meetings reduced the knowledge gap that many had to fill. In the future, many will continue to take even greater advantage of these capabilities to drive demand for virtual interaction and knowledge sharing.
Healthcare professionals will still need virtual training in the future, both to retain top talent and to equip teams for an ever-changing landscape. To be successful, teams must standardize and manage their virtual training plans to maximize efficiency. E-learning initiatives will become a strategic pillar for all medical technology organizations to embed into their fabric, as opposed to an ad hoc activity when an acute need becomes visible.
How has virtual engagement transformed clinical trials?
With over 1,000 clinical trials halted at the end of 2020 due to heavy reliance on physical data collection, travel, and physical presence, virtual engagement has become the only solution.
Virtual engagement has already streamlined parts of the testing process. It provides the ability to monitor patients after the procedure without a physical presence, allows for increased device monitoring, and facilitates the ability of patients to register digitally.
To match this existing digital transformation, companies are considering whether other aspects of the trial can follow or be improved, including site selection, patient recruitment and activation.
Additionally, virtual engagement can streamline data dissemination, facilitate online communities, and help design a standardized protocol. These factors can unite global teams to maintain a high degree of integrity around test data, while streamlining processes for efficiency.
What does it look like in practice?
While the progression to virtual engagement makes sense, it can be difficult to undo more than 20 years of office experience, even after the year we’ve had. However, companies that adopt it now will have a measurable advantage over those that don’t.
To use an example from our own work at Within3, during the pandemic we worked with a sales team at a leading medical device company. They were to hire a group of 19 doctors from around the world to gather information on patient follow-up. The team opted for a multi-day meeting on Within3’s online engagement platform. With the extension meeting, attendees log in at their convenience rather than a scheduled meeting, and designing how they would interact was key to that meeting.
Our team has reduced potential communication barriers by refining the format of questions and comments to allow advisors to focus. In addition, we have enabled translation on the platform so that doctors can communicate seamlessly in the language of their choice, thus removing the language barrier usually present.
Through this streamlining process, the team was able to maintain a high level of engagement with advisors and gain more holistic feedback.
The result was a huge success. Thereafter, the company plans to continue with virtual advisory boards to involve more people and improve the quality of interactions between healthcare professionals and life science companies.
Over the past year, the life science industry has earned its reputation as the one that constantly pushes the boundaries to improve the health of patients. Through virtual engagement, we are able to gather more in-depth information at more efficient rates, enabling companies to fulfill their contract with patients and the public.