Last month, I attended the 2016 conference for AdvaMed (Advanced Medical Technologies Association). Five key external pressures for the medtech industry emerged. What are they and what do they mean to marketing and communications strategies?

  1. Burden of product benefit is evolving – gone are the days of “benefits and features” selling products. Even clinical outcomes are no longer enough. Medtech companies must look for ways to quantify patient outcomes, economic outcomes and societal outcomes. Increasingly organizations are creating or partnering with health economic outcomes and research (HEOR) teams and bringing these insights into product development.
  2. Economic uncertainty and taxes – changes in regional and global economies and the significance of events such as Brexit make planning more challenging. In the U.S., the medical device tax was suspended until 2017, but a decision to reinstate or repeal is looming and outside the U.S. the tax environment is changing. This uncertainty makes planning more difficult and is having a negative impact on research and development, investment and risk taking.
  3. Operational challenges – large medtech companies continue to maintain global footprints and the associated facility and talent costs are being evaluated. IT infrastructure costs to upgrade existing systems are increasing across the medtech sector. Also, companies need to increase investment into new digital health opportunities and address IoT and cyber security concerns.
  4. Consistent and increasing pressures to ensure affordability – in the U.S., the ACA and payment models such as Bundled Payment for Care Improvement (BPCI) were created to deliver value in healthcare spending. Outside the U.S., several countries are exploring universal health care and/or have public bodies like National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that assess and determine product affordability and effectiveness.
  5. External partnerships – whether it’s being first to market (Verb Surgical from Johnson & Johnson and Google that I blogged about last month), finding new ways to improve outcomes or improving speed to market (Boston Scientific and Mayo Clinic), the industry is looking to innovative partnerships for a competitive edge.

What is the impact of these pressures on marketing and communications strategies?

HEOR is the new HERO

  • With HEOR teams moving into product development, the data resulting from this work should be mined and leveraged for marketing and communications strategies. This is especially important as the sales channels for medtech expand to include procurement, group purchasing organizations, payers and consumers.
  • Companies that create and share data-rich messaging to demonstrate how their product benefits patients, positively affects costs and improves health, will have a greater competitive edge than being first to market.

Multiplying Audiences and an Expanding Ecosystem

  • As reimbursement and affordability shape the market, having premarket communications strategies that demonstrate product affordability and effectiveness as well as tailored messages for more and different key influencers (CMS, payers, potential partners and consumers) will be critical.
  • Mapping out and leveraging the greater healthcare ecosystem (providers, payers, patient advocacy, policy organizations) is an essential skill for creating go-to-market communications strategies in this new environment.

In less than one year, AdavaMed 2017 will be upon us. How will the external environment changed? What organizations evolved to meet these changes? And how are smart marketing teams and partners responding to help their organizations leapfrog the competition?