As computer processor and wireless communications technology continues to improve, the Internet of Things will continue to transform healthcare. The Internet of Medical Things, or IoMT for short, has enabled more powerful wireless devices which can improve the standard of care for patients with chronic diseases. With advances in the high-tech industry, medical devices have gotten smaller and implanting procedures have become less invasive, which has also fueled these smart devices’ ubiquity.
What Are the Benefits of Connected Medical Devices and How Do They Work?
Importantly, smartphone-connected wireless devices have the ability to help manage and track conditions remotely – not at the clinician’s office, but from home. The app can even use advanced analytics using artificial intelligence or machine learning to analyze collected data, and send alerts to the patient or their healthcare providers when action is needed – for example, when it’s time to take a medication, or if the patient missed a dose, or it’s time to refill prescriptions. Generally, medical data that is collected by the device (e.g., blood sugar levels for glucose devices, or heart rate information for a cardiac medical device) is sent to a companion smartphone app via Bluetooth and can be uploaded to a server in the cloud, and can even be sent directly to the clinician’s office.
Some connected devices can even interface directly with the human body. A subset of diabetes medical devices can even administer insulin to control blood sugar from veering into dangerous levels without the patient having to do anything. In this way, connected devices in healthcare can help reduce in-person visits while providing more around-the-clock care, thereby improving the standard of care for patients.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Need for At-Home Monitoring
The COVID-19 pandemic has invigorated the connected device industry, especially as accurate, reliable at-home monitoring is needed to take care of patients at home to reduce in-person hospital visits and the medical burden on hospitals. The reduced reliance of patients on in-hospital care not only helps at-risk patients like diabetics avoid exposure to COVID-19, but also can help ensure that only those needing medical attention are seen in the hospital, saving precious medical resources for those in need of urgent medical care. In fact, the revenues relating to wearable connected medical devices are expected to grow by 27.9% over the next few years.
Leaders in the Connected Medical Device Industry
While connected medical devices have not been immune to the effects of the COVID-19 economy, a few game-changers have emerged, and tried-and-true leaders in this industry continue to thrive A few industry leaders in smart medical devices include:
Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM) is a medical device maker focusing on diabetes which has thrived in the pandemic. DXCM’s stock price has increased by 193% since January 2020 and, with a solid $1.5 billion in sales in 2019, its market cap nears $40 billion.
Abbott (NYSE: ABT) is a leader in the biotech industry, and medical devices are no exception here. The company offers medical devices for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic pain, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease. Abbott’s stock price has skyrocketed in recent months, largely unrelated to their medical device performance and as a result of their novel five-minute COVID-19 test.
Medtronic (NYSE: MDT)’s cardiac and vascular devices, including pacemakers, bring in over $11 billion in annual revenue. Medtronic’s pacemakers feature a companion app that interface directly with smartphones for added functionality such as remote monitoring. Data collected by the company’s pacemakers can be sent to physicians to notify them about “clinically-relevant patient events,” according to a 2019 press release. While MDT shares took a nosedive in the early days of the pandemic, the stock price has made a rebound and is currently at about 85% of its January 2020 value, and is likely to increase as the economic outlook in the COVID-19 pandemic improves.
Livongo (NASDAQ: LVGO) is a medical device company that started out focusing on diabetes medical devices, but over time branched out to other chronic disorders, including high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, and weight-management. With this expansion in its target market, and given the fact that 147 million Americans have a chronic health condition, things are set to improve for Livongo. Before the COVID-19-related economic recession in March, the company was trading at about $25/share. Since then, the stock price has gone up by nearly 500%.
The bottom line? In light of COVID-19 changing all aspects of the way we live and work – and, of course, obtain health care — the scene is set for smart medical devices to continue to prosper in the pandemic, especially with the decline of in-patient medical visits and a growing need to monitor patients remotely.