Is this the end of the age of Apple? That was the question posed by Kara Swisher, editor at large for the technology news website Recode, in a column for The New York Times recently. Her piece was prompted by Apple’s announcement that it was going to miss its projected revenue by billions of dollars this quarter.
She wondered where the next great boom of innovation is going to come from. We would argue that the next great boom of innovation is already here – and has been for quite some time – in medical technology.
In fact, this month’s issue of National Geographic Magazine features a piece called, “The Future of Medicine: 12 innovations that will revolutionize the future of medicine.” The piece covers everything from sensing technologies like the Fitbit that, in the future, will be central to disease prevention, diagnosis, and therapy, to smart contact lenses and ingestible devices in capsules that perform tasks in the gastrointestinal system.
According to the piece, sensing technologies will measure health objectively, detect changes that may indicate a developing condition, and relay patient data to their clinicians. Examples include medical tattoos and stick-on sensors that can take electrocardiogram, measure respiratory rate, check blood sugar and transmit results seamlessly.
There’s more: smart contacts will be packed with biosensors and engineered to detect cancer and other conditions early on. Ingestible devices will be able to do anything from delivering treatment to isolating foreign objects. Artificial intelligence, smartphone otoscopes, and countless others will dramatically change the way we detect and treat conditions that negatively impact our health
These advancements are the result of tremendous investments – both in terms of dollars and time – in research and development within an industry that is driven by the pursuit of saving lives and improving the human condition. This dynamic ecosystem brings together physicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, patient groups and various other stakeholders who work together to transform the delivery of health care.
At a time when it seems that almost every issue with political implications is divisive, innovation in medical technology is one that everyone can get behind. In fact, in 2012 the Obama Administration pushed for and signed into law the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, which included updating the De Novo pathway for new innovative devices. Even under what most agree was very partisan times, it passed with broad bipartisan support.
Medical technology saves lives, improves patient outcomes and helps lower the overall cost of healthcare. It is also one of America’s strongest and fastest-growing manufacturing sectors. Today, the medical technology industry supports nearly 2 million U.S. jobs spanning all 50 states.
Fortunately, medical technology innovators remain passionate about making sure that tomorrow is brighter than today, but it is critical that policy makers continue to support an environment that allows this dynamic ecosystem to thrive