Artificial intelligence, consolidated healthcare, and obesity drugs to impact medtech 2024

Mike Monovoukas, AcuityMD

Artificial intelligence, consolidated healthcare, and obesity drugs to impact medtech 2024

By Michael Monovoukas, AcuityMD

Prediction #1: AI will turn windshield time into work time.

In 2024, field sales reps will spend more time in transit as the makeup of their territories changes to reflect a new type of healthcare landscape. Notably, Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) – a safe, convenient, and inexpensive alternative to hospitals – have and will continue to grow, especially as more medical technology manufacturers engineer more streamlined robotics products (i.e., Livsmed’s Artisential system) that fit the smaller footprint of ASCs. Already ASCs perform more than half of all U.S. outpatient surgical procedures. Since Q1 2018, total knee and total hip arthroplasty procedures done at hospitals have decreased by 1.3% per quarter, whereas ASC volumes have steadily increased by 5.4% per quarter. ASCs now perform over 15% of TKA and THA surgeries in the United States plus an increasing number of other types of outpatient procedures.

The result is a wide dispersion of surgeries, requiring reps to spend more time driving long distances and adding to their already 2+ hours a day in transit. Artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) will help reps make better use of this ‘dead’ time by enabling hands-free audio productivity. When they are driving, reps will be able to listen to their AI-based system to prepare for their upcoming meeting, respond to email requests, and more. The top-performing reps will leverage LLMs to be dramatically more efficient and make the most of their longer travel stretches.

Looking beyond 2024, AI can also bring a similar audio experience into the operating room, audibly guiding surgeons what screens to view when, and capturing surgical context that can be automatically transcribed into notes for highly individualized post-operative care.

Prediction #2: Medtech will return to demanding a return on investment.

Financial instability experienced in 2023 will continue to impact business in 2024 and will challenge organizations to prove the return on investment for every major purchasing decision. Specifically, in the medtech industry, data and software purchases that were previously largely unchecked will now be considered with increased scrutiny. Buyers will need to justify their expenditures, which will cause them to carefully re-consider how each data purchase will be used. Whereas medical device companies blindly purchased static datasets from familiar providers, in 2024, they will seek dynamic data that captures real-time fluctuations and that can be integrated into commercial workflows to track ROI and analyze performance automatically. The resulting metrics will fuel future purchase decisions so that they are based on verifiable insights – which is good for everyone, not just the corporate bottom line.

Prediction #3: Consolidated health care will demand empowered quarterbacks at medtech companies.

Healthcare providers continued to consolidate this past year, affecting their purchasing power – medtech companies have started expanding their national accounts teams to provide a single point-of-contact for independent delivery networks (IDNs). In 2024, successful medtech companies will further centralize their engagement with IDNs to offer bundled offerings while also managing contracts. Companies will empower their national account leaders with better data and insights so they can serve as quarterbacks between contracts and sales while remaining a valuable central point of contact for their healthcare customers.

Prediction #4: Breakthrough obesity drugs will change healthcare supply-and-demand dynamics.

A single event can have a material impact on the entire healthcare system, including medical device manufacturers. For example, smoking cigarettes has decreased by about half – from 20.9% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2021 (the latest CDC data) – and not surprisingly, there’s been a commensurate decline in cardiac interventions per capita.

Today, the blazing success of Wegovy and Mounjaro has electrified the pursuit of new treatments for obesity. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are leading the market with injectable drugs that target receptors of the GLP-1 hormone to mimic the hormone’s effects of helping people feel full. As these weight loss drugs flood the marketplace, 2024 will start to see their impact on related healthcare interventions for obesity, diabetes, and orthopedics, among others. We may not need bariatric surgery at all someday soon. How we treat diabetes – and the sheer volume of diabetic patients – is likely to drop. And, there will be a significant impact on orthopedic interventions without the strain on joints from obesity.

We work in an exciting industry at an equally exciting time with scientific breakthroughs like Wegovy and technology innovations like AI and I expect this year to bring more of the same!

Mike Monovoukas, AcuityMD Michael Monovoukas is the co-founder and CEO of AcuityMD. Prior to launching AcuityMD, he was a MedTech entrepreneur. He also held a leadership role at PatientPing, a leading provider of Care Coordination software. Michael started his career as a management consultant at Bain & Company, where he advised leading life sciences companies on growth and commercial strategy. Michael received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and his B.A. in Public Policy and Finance from Princeton University, where he was captain of the varsity swimming and diving team.