Innovator Spotlight: discover the main drivers for healthcare innovation

healthcare innovation interview Alher Mauricio Hernandez Valdivieso

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Improving people’s health and lives is a relentless driver of innovation across the world. As technology became fundamental for improving and delivering healthcare, it also acted as a catalyst for growth. This is visible not just through sheer observation but especially when you look at the data.

In Europe alone, the medtech sector drives the highest number of patent applications when compared to other industries.

medtech innovation patent applications

The European Medical Technology Industry – in figures 2019

The US is “the largest medical device market in the world”, with an estimated value of $156 billion in 2017. “By 2023, it is expected to grow to $208 billion,” according to the US Department of Commerce.

The second largest medical technology market is the European one, with a value of $126 billion (€115) billion in 2017, according to data released by MedTech Europe.

In spite of the heavy regulation to ensure safety and performance, the medtech industry is growing at an astonishing pace.

The biggest drivers behind this growth and innovation in the medtech sector are SMEs. In Europe, they make up 95% of the total number of medical technology companies (MedTech Europe).

As persistent pursuers of true innovation, we wanted to unearth some valuable insights about this thriving sector. To get to them, we interviewed Alher Mauricio Hernandez Valdivieso, medtech veteran and Professor at the Antioquia University, one of the best and the oldest departmental university in Colombia.

When we asked him about the most important issues medtech is trying to solve today, Alher shared his experienced perspective:

I think the biggest problem is health care personalization in terms of medicine, home healthcare, and treatments.

A secondary and related problem is the interoperability, the information’s ability to travel between devices, software, and providers of healthcare services and its capacity to be understood and useful to the actors in the ecosystem.

Alher also named the biggest proponents of medtech in terms of industry stakeholders which, unsurprisingly, turn out to be some of the companies that invest the most in research and innovation.

The main company working on healthcare personalization is Philips healthcare and Abbott, but I know that Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung are working on the issue as well. Other important companies are Omron and Siemens.

Alher also draws attention to the sector’s dynamic which is heavily influenced by advancements in technology but also by the changes in societies across the globe.

I think this sector will experience an enormous growth because of people’s needs (elderly population), the possibilities devices provide (new wearables), and the fast developments in the sector of artificial intelligence, that will be the most important in the context of personalization.

If you’re wondering which are the most prolific sources of innovation in medtech, Alher has the answer:

“Software, wearables, and tissue engineering (which requires enormous investment),” are driving applications and solutions such as non-intrusive glucose monitoring systems, advanced diagnostic tools, and medical devices that, once implanted, can significantly reduce the risk of stroke or cardiovascular problems.

So medtech is teeming with innovation and there is a wealth of startups trying to break through industry barriers and tackle burning problems.

Alher points out that, while startups may be good at creating point solutions, they’ll also have to think longer-term and see how their operations can integrate with the rest of the ecosystem:

Nowadays, startups are offering small services to hospitals and healthcare providers or patients. They are creating the needs and respond to specific requirements but, in the near future, healthcare organizations will need integrated solutions (interoperability).

To maintain their edge in terms of creativity and focus, biotech and medtech specialists leverage two important things:

Being close to the patients and health economics because only cost-effective solutions will survive.

Alher envisions a future where “healthcare services will move from the value created by the process to the patient’s assessment of the service’s value.” The way he sees it, “services will be paid according to the patient’s satisfaction.”

Throughout these changes, persistent innovators will not only develop and improve their tactics, processes, and mental models – they will also change how people live and thrive in a world that will most likely look very differently than we can anticipate.


If you’re looking to understand more of what’s behind the scenes in innovation, keep an eye on the WiseUp blog for interviews with global experts and our own insights gained from hard-earned experience or join our free course: Introduction to corporate innovation.


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