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From Wireless Age to Consumer Age

Wed, 05/08/2013 - 11:54am
Sean Fenske, Editor-in-Chief, MDT

Wireless healthcare is upon us. Each day, it seems more devices and technology are becoming untethered or new capabilities are being added to wireless devices. No longer are the applications of wireless devices limited to patient monitoring, but rather an array of therapies are now available for treating patients at home or even on the go.

As patients come to expect this type of convenient healthcare from their doctors, medical device manufacturers will look to explore new options for continuing the movement of technology out of hospitals and into patients’ homes. Our advanced age of wireless technology being the driving force for innovation in medical devices is quickly shifting to a consumer age where patients being treated in their homes is the primary driver. In some areas of healthcare, we’re already there; the shift has already happened. However, I think it will continue in new areas of medicine as more medical device manufacturers explore the opportunity.

This movement has the potential to change the way medical devices are marketed. Currently, healthcare technology advertising is still primarily directed toward medical professionals. Of course, there are exceptions as I do see commercials for mobility “scooters” as well as monitoring devices (would the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” monitor qualify as a medical device?). However, I look at the pharmaceutical industry and how they are speaking to patients directly when it comes to medication for everything from anti-depressants to pain management.

Diabetes management does seem to be getting a bit of air time of late, but how long will it be before stent manufacturers are pushing their drug eluting technology to the general public in People magazine? Or will we see orthopedic implant makers pitching the idea of getting that joint replacement for improved mobility and quality of life (we’re almost there with current commercials)?

I don’t know if this type of marketing is good or bad for healthcare in general, but it certainly makes for an interesting look at where the future of medical device marketing could potentially be headed. I’ll be sure to keep a closer eye on ads for healthcare-related products to see what type of device might next be pitched directly to potential patients.

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