Rethinking the Patient Journey, Part 2: The Therapies and Investments Revolutionizing Health Care

Medical therapeutics is the art and science of treating a patient’s disease or alleviating their pain through a combination of physical therapies, pharmaceuticals and medical technology (MedTech). This branch of medical science, specifically referred to as MedTech, is receiving renewed interest thanks to the rapidly changing landscape of embedded electronics.

For many years now, patients have had access to direct-to-consumer monitoring technologies that can be used away from health care facilities. Think Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitors or home glucose monitoring kits. The acceptance of home-use medical monitoring technology is causing the expansion of these devices to also provide therapeutic relief, shifting therapy from the clinic setting to the on-patient ecosystem. Having therapy delivered based on the monitoring of various biomarkers and biosignals means it can be made more effective and efficient than having care provided on an “every X hour” basis.

Technological Developments Lead to Automation

Thanks to smartphones, inexpensive yet consumer-friendly hardware and advances in next-generation software algorithms, it’s becoming increasingly likely we will live in a world in which therapies are delivered automatically without medical professional intervention. Historically, this has been both a technological as well as an ethical challenge for medical professionals. And while technology continues to evolve at breakneck speeds, only recently has there been an acquiescence to the fact that the pros outweigh the cons in favor of allowing more wide-spread therapeutic hardware to be available to patients at home.

Therapeutics encompass a vast array of technologies and methodologies. Some therapeutic modalities of note include electrical stimulation, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, interferential current and deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is essentially a “brain pacemaker” for the treatment of Parkinson’s and even Alzheimer’s patients. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is another Parkinson’s treatment.

Today’s Cutting-Edge Therapies

Thermal therapies such as thermotherapy and cryotherapy are useful in treating soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries. Drug delivery systems are expected to greatly expand beyond decades-old tech such as insulin pumps and nebulizers. As an example, for those suffering from sleep apnea, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines have long been the prescribed therapy. Such cumbersome machinery, though, is giving way to implantable technologies, thanks to advances in technology miniaturization and materials science. These same advances will yield new implantable treatments for next-generation pacemakers and neuromodulation therapies. Rounding out the list are therapies based on ultrasound, lasers, and even robotic hardware for use in surgeries, physical therapy, and at-home senior care.

Investments to Revolutionize Health Care

The future of therapeutic technology is even more exciting. MedTech solution companies are optimistic about their future. According to MedTech Dive, the medical device market is projected to experience a 4.9% compound annual growth rate in the U.S., reaching $200 billion by 2023.  Furthermore, Lucintel reports that the global device market will expand at a CAGR of 4.5% throughout 2023, reaching nearly $409 billion.

So, what will these investments mean for therapeutics?

With the advent of the “connected health” health care management model, it is possible to shift the time and place that patients can receive their necessary treatments. No longer burdened by having to be physically present at a treatment facility staffed with medical professionals, patients of the future will be able to receive therapies automatically wherever and whenever they need relief. The blending of therapeutic and monitoring modalities will give patients back time to live their lives on their own terms instead of living their lives around their treatments. Telemetry from their monitoring and therapeutic devices will be transmitted back to their healthcare providers in real time via their smartphone or other wireless connection. Doctors will then remotely tweak each patient’s therapy regimen as needed.

More therapies will become non-invasive as well. Percutaneous (the delivery of active ingredients through absorption by the skin), natural-orifice delivery and minimally invasive radiotherapy technologies are primed to make this a reality. Furthermore, advances in optical therapeutic devices and MEMS/MOTES-based miniature devices are also contributing to changing the “how, when and where” discussion of the therapeutic modality. Advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-in-the-loop algorithms will help with the determination of correct therapies for any given patient’s exact situation and genetic signature. As reported in a U.S. National Institutes of Health report, “Natural Language Processing [NLP] for reading the chest X-ray reports would assist the antibiotic assistant system to alert physicians for the possible need for anti-infective therapy.” NLP is a subset of the larger knowledge base that is found in AI technologies.

Lastly, therapies vary widely, and increasingly they are combined in one procedure. An example of a crossover is the process of using imaging and other tests to determine what’s causing arrhythmia (this is called an electrophysiology (EP) study). This multimodality uses imaging techniques and invasive catheters combined to provide a complete therapy (ablation, cryotherapy, surgical), since it is already in the artery.

The Molex Advantage

Molex is continually tracking and sharing information regarding what the MedTech market is looking for. And because MedTech is such a wide-ranging and complex field, we work across multiple divisions of the Molex family to constantly advance our product offerings, developing products across our business units and in concert with contract manufacturers. This allows us to stay on the cutting edge and respond quickly to new issues as they arise. We have the experience as well as technical, regulatory and business knowledge to handle our client’s toughest challenges. From addressing concerns with the biocompatibility of materials to supplying complex cable assemblies for robotically assisted surgical devices, we are proud to be able to quickly and effectively develop new methods to handle these urgent client requests.

Learn more about Molex MedTech Solutions.