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Field Service Medical 2017: The Directors Report
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Every OEM that was surveyed in the lead up to the creation of 2017’s agenda mentioned regulatory guidelines and compliance as a concern. Right now, compliance becomes more and more critical as the FDA’s current focus is on third party providers and their relationship with OEMs.
Strict guidelines are a necessity that the industry understands. In a life or death setting, there is no time for faulty equipment. There is a reason why OEMs are concerned, however. These very same regulations can also impede innovation. For example, apps built within a CRM that are not “quality certified” get shut down. Due to the sheer number of spare parts, regulatory bodies are forced to cherry pick what, when, and where they are going to enforce. Unless you are a big hospital or facility, JCAHO cannot enforce everything 100% of the time, creating an inconsistency in who is being carefully watched over.
Still, medical device equipment, spare parts, and how the technician fixes the machine have to comply with a multitude of rules. And as long as there is consistency and a quick turnaround process for approval, the OEM can appreciate this.
Despite how much compliance crackdowns may hinder ingenuity, money is continually poured into R&D for new products since the industry is fueled by the moralistic end-goal of improving quality of life. According to MDDI in a telling article entitled American Medtech Market to Grow 6.4% Annually Through 2017, “By 2016 the medical device market is projected to reach $134 billion.” As this industry grows in revenue, there is a bigger focus on after-market service quality to create a brand differentiator, as they are selling to an increasingly shrinking customer. Service needs a PR makeover – the definition of what service is needs to be rewritten. Customers are demanding more than just having a tech come over to fix a machine when it breaks. In fact, they want to see diagnostics tools being used so that the machine doesn’t break in the first place – or at the very least have a tech fix the problem remotely if it does. While it was once considered just a cost, service has a new role in revenue production, with some companies already having their service and sales departments integrated. Due to this focus on cross-functional integration, OEM executives have finally come to realize that after-market service is a critical component to the customer’s experience.
This leads us to Field Service Medical 2017. Field Service Medical is part of WBR’s Field Service portfolio. Starting out as a specific day to the Field Service USA program in 2011, the medical device attendees were so hungry for a more focused agenda that FSM ran as a separate event come 2012. FSM boasts being the premiere event tailored for customer care, service, and support executives in the medical device space.
Cloud computing technologies improve the efficiency and profitability of business, especially as economic challenges persist. More pronounced in the medical device industry than most others, the trend toward healthcare cloud computing promises to deliver tremendous benefits as companies seek to create markets that will generate consumer demand. The move toward the cloud comes when medical device companies feel intense pressure to lower costs and improve profits, especially as a U.S. healthcare reform law goes into effect, adding a 2.7 percent surcharge on the sale of every medical device.
Maturing cloud technologies offer new opportunities as the healthcare industry adapts to a changing business environment. In the past, medical device makers could assume creating the best, most innovative product would ensure their success. Manufacturers now realize that they must provide the best possible experience for customers. They look to consumer-based industries for inspiration. Rather than competing in the market as defined by others, Apple created new products that built their own markets with insatiable demand. Medical device companies seek to emulate that success among healthcare consumers. Perhaps the ideal solution awaiting discovery will integrate a medical device that delivers a specific service through the cloud and then process the data it collects and delivers. Because healthcare cloud computing resources adjust to demand, customers can always count on needed services.
Although healthcare cloud computing offers impressive benefits to medical device suppliers and their customers, some challenges need attention. Healthcare demands a higher level of data protection and security than most industries, but cloud computing often sends data through insecure connections. Encryption technologies seem promising but have not yet satisfied industry needs. Aided by developments from Google and Microsoft, cloud computing will surge among medical device suppliers as security improves.
Geographical storage poses another concern about cloud-based medical devices. Some countries demand that their citizens’ healthcare data must remain inside the country where their laws have jurisdiction. Cloud computing must comply with all healthcare laws before medical devices can fully benefit from it. So far, medical imaging companies have led as medical device manufacturers adopt cloud technologies. However, top medical device companies expect major benefits from cloud computing in coming months.