MaRS Future of Medicine: Market access for medical technology

MaRS Future of Medicine: Market access for medical technology

Breaking through the barriers: The 2012 MaRS Future of Medicine Conference

“The role of innovators is not only to innovate, but also to actively play a role in the adoption and valuation of the innovations in the health system, in order to ultimately convince society that they’re willing to pay for them.” — Zayna Khayat, MaRS Future of Medicine closing remarks

On November 15, the MaRS life sciences and healthcare team hosted our fourth annual MaRS Future of Medicine Conference. In response to the needs of our growing base of client startups in the medical device and health information technology (IT) fields, we focused the conference on market access for medical technology.

Throughout the day we learned about superb innovations and trends in the global medical technology market. We had a thought-provoking panel session on how to break the barriers to innovation adoption in the Canadian healthcare system. Finally, we saw a pitch showcase of emerging companies in the medical device and health IT sectors.

With over 180 entrepreneurs, researchers, government representatives and industry members in attendance—a 40% increase over previous years!—the conference was a great success. Some of the highlights included:

  • Dr. Ted Schreiber discussing innovations in cardiovascular health that have been successfully implemented at the Detroit Medical Centre’s Cardiovascular Institute.
Dr. Theodore Schreiber giving a keynote address on innovation in cardiovascular medicine to a packed house (provided by MaRS Media).


  • Hamid Sadri discussingthemarket trends toward remote monitoring:
    • As the North American burden of chronic disease increases, trends in device development have moved toward miniaturization, telemetry and usage of devices for remote monitoring as well as diagnosis.
    • Remote monitoring—the automatic sending of data from a patient to their physician, on a pre-defined basis—can significantly decrease the healthcare cost burden, and data has shown that remote follow-ups are no less effective than in-clinic follow-ups.
    • Data has also shown that response time from an event to a clinical decision can be three times faster after remote monitoring than in-clinic visits.
    • Remote monitoring will increase the utility of patient data going forward with applications such as cardiac monitoring, diabetes, etc.
  • Nitin Kaushal presentingtrends in the global medical technology market:
    • Personalized medicine is on the rise.
    • The biggest sectors in the $10 billion Canadian med-tech industry are medical-surgical supplies ($4.5 billion), in-vitro diagnostics ($1.5 billion) and orthopedics ($1.2 billion).
    • The global in-vitro diagnostics market is $46 billion, with 4 to 5% annual growth since 2010, a rate expected to remain consistent for 2012. Clinical diagnostics is the largest market segment and there has also been rapid growth in molecular and tissue diagnostics.
Nitin Kaushal offering insights into the global medical technology market (provided by MaRS Media).
  • Deeper insights into the personalized medicine market from Katherine Bonter:
    • The traditional pharma business model will be replaced by more co-operative partner-centric models that increasingly use IT companies, data specialists and financiers to enable truly personalized medicine.
    • Valuing a companion diagnostic test is difficult but critical for informing wise investments. Valuation can vary depending on the prevalence of the biomarker in the target population and the development pathway (clinical trials).
    • We need to recognize the value of molecular diagnostic tests in order to promote innovation and investment in personalized medicine.
    • Diagnostic tests account for only 5% of hospital costs and 2% of healthcare costs, but they influence 60 to 70% of clinical decisions.
    • Applications filed and patents granted in the molecular diagnostics area have been increasing rapidly since 2007, but exponentially more so in the United States than in Canada. Businesses must take the quickly changing landscape into consideration as they grow.
  • A panel discussion with Dr. Les Levin, Sarah Friesen and Bill Mantel on the barriers to procurement and adoption of innovative technology in the healthcare system highlighted the challenges that so many entrepreneurs face. It is not enough to validate the technology in the clinical setting; the innovator must also have a road map that allows assessment of the potential impact on quality of care and ease of implementation.
Sarah Friesen, Les Levin and Bill Mantel share provocative thoughts for healthcare and innovation in a panel discussion moderated by Peter Heywood (right) (provided by MaRS Media).
  • Closing remarks from KPMG’s Zayna Khayat, (including this blog post’s header):
    • Medical innovation is typically focused within the primary care setting, but over 40% of personal health is driven by an individual’s own personal behaviours (as opposed to medical care, which is 10%). There is a great need for medical innovation to look beyond “care.”
    • Even within medical care, thoughtful innovation is needed as up to one-third of healthcare expenditures do not provide value or improve health.
    • Significant challenges remain: an aging population with an increased burden of chronic disease, and many cost barriers to get novel technologies that have impact into the clinic.
    • Innovators must be actively engaged in the whole process—not just innovating new products, but also convincing society and the healthcare system that the investment in their products will outweigh the cost and lead to long-term benefit. Disinvestment is key!

All discussions raised many issues about the commercialization of new technologies that could be excellent content for future conferences.

The MaRS Future of Medicine program is not just an annual conference, but a monthly speaker series as well. Join us on December 12 at 12:00 p.m. for our next event with TSX’s Justin Canivet and Byron Capital’s Douglas Loe speaking about life sciences companies in the public markets. Register now!

And finally, thanks again to our eight generous sponsors for their support: