Over the course of the past year, health has been nudged into the limelight due to the rampant spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it commanded the global news cycle on a daily basis.
But while the worldwide economy suffered, the ripple affect caused by the screeching halt of in-contact interactions, many looked at this period as a time of awakening for people to start actively focusing on their wellbeing.
With the eyes of the world on the health sector, accelerated ingenuity came within the field of medicine, specifically MedTech. Everything from funding, volunteers, and continental collaborations, were drawn up to fight the pandemic.
With COVID-19 spearheading the fight for accelerating MedTech, companies and researchers saw an opportunity to use the attention caused by the pandemic toward both the scientific advantage of medical technology and for the greater cause of helping humanity.
As such, on the occasion of World Health Day, here are some advanced MedTech solutions and initiatives that are picking up traction on the global radar.
AstraZeneca developing tech for heart failure, asthma
Biotechnology company AstraZeneca announced on Tuesday that its currently collaborating with Massachusetts General Hospital to create and clinically validate patient centric advanced MedTech solutions.
According to the company, the collaboration will use AstraZeneca’s new AMAZE disease management platform to study heart failure and asthma management.
“We are incredibly proud to be working closely with Massachusetts General Hospital to utilize this digital platform to close gaps in patient care, ultimately leading to better outcomes,” Ruud Dobber, president of the BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit at AstraZeneca, said in a statement.
The biotechnology company notes that its AMAZE disease management platform uses remote monitoring to identify at-risk patients and deliver insights to the clinical care team at the point of care, all while reducing healthcare costs.
As per the details of the heart failure case study found on ClinicalTrials.gov, patients enter personal information using the AMAZE app, which will feed it into a clinician-facing dashboard embedded within their electronic health record.
Patients will be enrolled in the study after an inpatient heart-failure admission at Massachusetts General Hospital. The organizations say the first two studies are aimed at piloting AMAZE in a real-world setting with the goal of improving patient engagement, care-team communication, and clinical outcomes.
“We believe the AMAZE disease management platform has the potential to transform the current healthcare delivery paradigm for patients around the world living with chronic diseases,” said Dobber.
Following both cases of heart failure and asthma, Massachusetts General and AstraZeneca highlight that they are on looking to expand the use of AMAZE across multiple chronic disease areas to patients throughout and beyond the Mass General Brigham system.
“While there is no precedent for this type of deep relationship, we hope this alliance will serve as a model for future collaboration between pharma and healthcare providers,” said Dr. Peter L. Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital.
UK govt funds domestic MedTech and life science industries
The British government launched on Wednesday a multi-million-pound fund to support the MedTech and life sciences sectors, called the “Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund,” which is designed to the country’s ability to prepare and respond to future pandemics.
“With two-thirds of life science manufacturing jobs already outside London and the South East, the new £20 million ($27.54 million) fund will also open up economic and investment opportunities for manufacturers across the whole of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, improving our domestic supply chains and safeguarding and creating hundreds of highly skilled manufacturing jobs,” a government statement said.
The UK has one of the strongest and most productive health and life sciences industries globally, with a turnover of £80 billion and supporting 256,000 jobs, underpinned by a powerful research landscape and high-quality science base.
“This will not only boost the UK’s already strong vaccine and medicine portfolio but support top quality, local jobs across the country and put the UK in a formidable position to continue responding to the most pressing global challenges of our time,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented.
COVID-19 advanced MedTech solutions
UK-based healthcare company Medichecks launched a new antibody test to track unique responses to COVID-19 or the vaccine. According to research conducted by the NHS, men reportedly produce higher antibodies levels in response to COVID-19.
Medichecks’ CE-marked finger-prick test can be taken at home and detects antibodies to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.
According to the company, results are available within two to three days and will identify a figure on a scale of 0.4 to 2500 (units per milliliter). A score of below 0.8 means no antibodies were detected; anything above this shows the presence of antibodies to the virus.
This will allow individuals to track and monitor their antibody levels, which would prove highly beneficial in terms of information on immune responses of different people; the company explained that the test can be done at three-to-four-month intervals, to measure variation.
“What is being learnt about COVID-19’s impact on the immune system is still a moving target, but this test lets people monitor their antibody levels over time. It is not yet known how long immunity, once it has developed, will fade, what level of antibodies provides immunity to coronavirus or at what level re-vaccination will be needed,” Dr. Sam Rodgers, chief medical officer at Medichecks, said in statement.
Manufactured by Roche, the Anti-SARS-CoV-2-S coronavirus antibody test is priced at £69.
Medichecks posts a sample collection kit to customers together with full instructions on how to collect a blood sample in a small vial at home. The sample is then posted to a UKAS accredited laboratory for analysis. The result, accompanied by a doctor’s interpretation, is uploaded to the customer’s online dashboard.
The rise of wearable MedTech
Wearable medical devices have been on the up and up for many around the world, as they take a more serious view within their own wellbeing; in parallel, the manufacturers and big tech companies have capitalized.
According to market research company Mordor Intelligence, the wearable medical devices market was valued at $19,450 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $47,837 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of about 16 percent over the forecast period.
Wearable devices play a crucial role in predicting certain disorders by integrating essential vital signs with clinical symptomology.
For instance, in 2020, researchers at Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute in the United States reported that data from the Oura Ring, a wearable sleep and activity tracker, can be combined with an app that measures vital signs that predict in advance if an individual is likely to develop COVID-19 symptoms.
The device successfully predicted that an individual would experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, fever up to three days before they manifested.
“The wearable medical devices market is growing at a faster pace owing to the rising technological innovations and advancements, as they can improve the lifestyle of general population as well as patient population,” the report by Mordor Intelligence highlighted.
Wearable technologies proffer a convenient mode of monitoring physiological symptoms, featuring a multitude of advanced MedTech solutions.