Neglecting Consumer Needs is One of the Key Reasons MedTech Startups Struggle to Scale (The MedTech Download)

Kelly Springs-Kelley
February 22, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • MedTech and health-tech startups often struggle when it comes to scaling, with failing to understand consumer needs and behavior as a critical misstep.
  • Dexcom’s recent Super Bowl commercial was meant to spread awareness of the technology, but it also sparked debate related to  high costs and inequities in patient access to diabetes technology.
  • Even as medical devices and healthcare become increasingly integrated with technology, a shocking 88% of MedTech leaders in the US believe their companies are unprepared for a cybersecurity threat.

4 Reasons Why Health-Tech Startups Struggle to Scale

The MedTech industry is rich with purpose. Inventors, executives, investors, and their teams develop innovations that change – and often save – lives. Some companies grow from personal stories; others from professional ones. But in each case, these startups are focused on revolutionizing the medical world.

It is for this, and many other reasons, that failure in this realm can be devastating. Sometime companies show clinical value, but fail to enter the right market or iterate their value proposition. Other times, companies experience a successful launch but then struggle to grow and adapt to the market. In this article, Dr. Nayan Kalnad, the CEO of Avegen, discusses 4 key reasons why MedTech startups struggle to scale and grow. He mentions that, in some cases, companies don’t practice upstream marketing and involve patients in the development process and neglecting consumer needs.

Dexcom’s Super Bowl Ad Puts Focus on Cost, Access Issues in Diabetes Tech

Photo: Dexcom

Over the past few years, insulin manufacturers have experienced a reckoning over the skyrocketing cost of the hormone. For the 1.25 million Americans living with type 1 diabetes, as well as some with type 2 diabetes, insulin literally keeps them alive. The issue with cost has become increasingly clear, as some patients have died rationing insulin due to high prices. In fact, the cost of insulin has more than tripled over the past decade, while the substance of the product itself has not changed.

This conversation has served as yet another example of the disparities in care between patient populations. And in the case of diabetes, insulin isn’t the only significant expense. Blood sugar monitoring is also critical in achieving positive patient outcomes and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications like neuropathy, loss of eyesight, and more. And, like insulin, access to monitoring technology is lopsided. During this year’s Super Bowl, continuous glucose monitoring technology company Dexcom aired an ad featuring Nick Jonas, a type 1 diabetic and Dexcom user. While the company explained that the ad was aimed at raising awareness of the product, it sparked a debate surrounding the cost of its product and inequality in access to life-saving technology.

More Cyberattacks in Healthcare, Yet Most MedTech Leaders Unprepared, Says Survey

The pandemic has ushered in a new age related to access to healthcare, as many hospitals, practices, and health systems seek products and services that allow them to deliver care remotely. This has led to an increased investment in telehealth, from delivery platforms and virtual ICUs to remote monitoring devices and point-of-care technology. As demand has increased, so too has the pipeline for newer technologies. And while these advancements have allowed the industry to adapt, the rush to market has unintended consequences, much in relation to cybersecurity.

The nature of these technologies requires that massive amounts of patient data be integrated into the cloud. It has also increased the use of AI and machine learning related to patient use and delivery of care. And this use of connected health solutions is more than logistical – there are massive risks related to cyber attack, which can in some cases pose immediate threats to the lives of patients. Astonishingly, a recent report found that 88% of medtech leaders in the United States said they didn’t believe their company was prepared for a cybersecurity threat.

LabCorp Warns COVID-19 Testing Sales Could Plummet as Crisis Abates

The story of the pandemic in the healthcare industry has been told in the extremes, as we live through what has required an extreme reaction. Some healthcare sectors are shut down, making way for COVID-related treatment. Some sectors are booming, such as those related to remote care or the COVID response. But while many people believe that remote care and telemedicine is here to stay, those who are responding to the virus know that the boom is only temporary.

Such was iterated last week by LabCorp, who issued a warning to investors that “COVID-19 testing revenues could fall by as much as 50% this year as the mass-vaccination campaigns now underway start to drive down cases.” While testing will remain a necessary part of combating the virus in the future, there is no doubt that demand for COVID testing, and the associated revenue, will drop this year.

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