Cambridge Consultants foresee emerging markets to be the next frontier for surgical innovation

Our Bureau, BengaluruFriday, February 6, 2015, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Emerging markets will be the catalyst that ignites a new wave of surgical innovation, according to a new report from product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants.

But the surgical device industry will need to rethink how it develops products for these markets with collaboration and understanding of unmet needs crucial to success, noted the report.

Further the report indicated that India and China present the largest emerging market growth opportunity for the medical device industry.  The Indian surgical device market is valued at $2.75 billion, with China’s market significantly larger at $8 billion. Both are growing at 15 per cent a year, with more than three-quarters of high-value surgical devices imported.

Surgeries in emerging markets will not share the same future as surgery in developed markets. Different commercial, clinical, user and technical challenges will drive ‘need-based’ innovation, resulting in new products and solutions that are tailored for emerging markets, stated the report.

“Emerging markets offer a unique opportunity for the surgical device industry to reinvent its role in advancing healthcare. But the surgical device industry must alter how it innovates in order to grow, succeed and serve these new markets,” says co-author Rahul Sathe, a principal mechanical engineer at Cambridge Consultants.

“The combination of the surgeon consultant model and the issues surrounding training makes it difficult to optimise the team-based surgical techniques that are essential to complex procedures,” said Leslie Johnston, a senior human factors engineer at Cambridge Consultants.

“Laparoscopic surgery, for example, often requires frequent tool changes in a confined space and proper execution of these changes can be difficult, even with a surgical team that has worked together for years”, he adds.

“Future surgical tools should be designed to enable team-based surgery and reduce the physical and cognitive workload for all surgical staff. Devices that are easier to use and easier to learn how to use will be deployed on a greater number of cases immediately after commissioning. And equipment that has applications for more than one surgical department will be used more and potentially allow hospitals to branch out into more complex or specialised procedures  that is integral to the growth plan of many hospitals in India, stated the report.

Surgeons in India are rarely employed by a single hospital they are consultants at multiple hospitals, bringing in their own patients while hospitals provide the infrastructure and patient services. They usually rely on the surgical equipment available at the various hospitals and may need to switch between multiple types of equipment on a day-to-day basis, noted the report.

But it’s not just emerging markets that will benefit from innovation in surgical device development, predicts the Cambridge Consultants report. It sees that healthcare innovation will be a two-way street. “Products designed for emerging markets can infuse new perspectives into developed markets to improve affordability, accessibility and operational efficiency in healthcare,” said Sathe.