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Embracing Medical Technology Innovation Hype or Reality?

Speakers:

  • Charit Bhograj, CEO, Tricog Health Pte
  • Veronica Descotte, VP, Business Development, Strategy & Commercial Operations Latin America, Medtronic
  • Paulo Diniz, CEO, Lifemed
  • Euan Thomson, Global Head of R&D, Digital Technology, and Advanced Innovation, Johnson & Johnson
  • Frank Zhong, CTO, BGI Research USA

Moderator:

  • Alexandre Oliveira, Chief Investment Officer, IFC

Three innovators discussed how medical technology can advance healthcare in emerging markets, while a fourth, India-based Tricog, provided a live demonstration of its remote heart monitoring system.

According to Veronica Descotte, Vice President at medical devices company Medtronic, ‘innovation’ in this space includes both R&D into new products and changing business models to increase access to care. “It doesn’t really matter how many great devices we have if we don’t get them to the people that need them,” she said. Emerging markets were at the forefront of the company’s growth plans and this thinking needed to be imparted to R&D teams and engineers too as otherwise they may tend to develop products more with developed markets in mind, she added.

“It doesn’t really matter how many great devices we have if we don’t get them to the people that need them.”—Veronica Descotte

Euan Thomson, a Global Head of R&D, Digital Technology, and Advanced Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, outlined the three pillars that drive outcome: quality of the device or instrument; patient selection and engagement; and surgical skills—both the surgeon and the surgical team. Digital technologies can improve outcomes, he said, by making it easier to obtain pre-surgery information on patients and track them post-surgery, and to track and guide surgical teams in real time during surgery. In emerging markets, these technologies should be deployed at lower costs and drive efficiency, he said.

Paulo Diniz, the CEO of Lifemed, a Brazilian medical devices manufacturer that seeks to integrate clinical environments, especially Intensive Care Units (ICU), said that technologies which enable remote monitoring of patients help a lot in a country like Brazil that is so vast in size and has many remote areas. “We have more than 5,500 municipalities but only 10 percent of them have an ICU. With remote monitoring, the physician can control at a distance…we can reduce costs effectively and create a loop of quality and safety,” he said.

“Genetics allow you to identify infections in the patient’s body very early on, and infections typically cause a quarter of cancers.”—Frank Zhong

Silicon Valley-based Frank Zhong, CTO of BGI Research, a Chinese genomics company that uses DNA sequencing to better understand medicine at a molecular level, said their ultimate objective was for “everybody to have their own genome data” that their doctors could then use to prescribe medicines. BGI has been working for 20 years to demonstrate to policymakers how their technology can have tangible benefits for the population. “Genetics plays a very important role for early, preventive care. Genetics allow you to identify infections in the patient’s body very early on, and infections typically cause a quarter of cancers,” so its deployment in emerging markets can lower healthcare costs, he said.

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