Beyond medical devices: integrated solutions key to greater efficiencies, outcomes and value


Michael Buck

President, Medical Products


When we hear the term “disruptive technology,” we typically think of the latest gadget or online service that creates a new market or reinvents an old one. In terms of medical devices, it means the latest breakthroughs that address unmet clinical needs, open doors to better treatment options—and create opportunities for innovative device companies.

As the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care reshapes healthcare delivery, new demands are driving the medical technology industry to redefine disruption. Products alone are not enough. To respond to the new disruption, medical technology providers need to offer business models based on services, not just devices.

That’s because our customers—particularly leaders of large healthcare institutions—are under tremendous pressure to achieve fewer readmissions, improved adherence to treatment protocols and better outcomes under new payment models. Their biggest concerns are around high-volume, routine procedures. To get the results they need, they must carefully manage the entire episode of care. That means it’s not just about a product or device. Services are critical.

Treatment of acute myocardial infarction is a good example. Under value-based care, the drug-eluting stent used in the procedure will not be paid for under a pure DRG (diagnosis-related group) payment. The stent is just one part of a broader episode-of-care evaluation that extends long after the patient returns home.

3D rendering of a stent clearing blockage in a vein

A 3D rendering of a coronary angioplasty stent. With value-based care, stents are now usually part of a broader episode-of-care evaluation that extends long after the patient returns home.

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The same principles apply to introduction of CCJR (comprehensive care for joint replacement). Products such as bone cement are important. But hospitals are more concerned about their responsibility for the patients’ outcome for 90 days after surgery. A successful hip replacement is less a result of the latest implant and more about ensuring all people, components, assets and technologies are in place to ensure the entire process works optimally.

Finding more efficient ways to treat patients over the entire episode of care means treating the right patient, at the right scheduled time, using the right product, and utilizing the right discharge, post-op and follow-up care. To be successful, providers need a combination of services such as medical therapy management, inpatient and outpatient pharmacy solutions, patient outreach and care transition and bedside medication delivery. For example, our naviHealth solution provides evidence-based care pathway analytics to help providers manage post-discharge care.

From an industry perspective, without core competencies in services and analytics, medical technology firms are challenged to provide the types of solutions that are needed in today’s environment. It is typically a much easier route for a service-oriented company, such as Cardinal Health, to add whatever products customers need than it is for a product-focused firm to add services.

Mike Buck in The MedTech Strategist

2.6MB – PDF

Our healthcare industry is in the throes of major disruption as we transition to from volume to value. To meet the needs of providers in this environment, medical technology firms must come to the table with innovative services—not just products.

Editor’s Note: Read more of Mike Buck’s thoughts on how the med-tech business model is changing to better meet health system needs in this issue of The MedTech Strategist.