Fine-tune your market strategy: learn in which setting your medtech is most demanded and where market opportunities exist

As discussed in the article on Minimally Invasive Procedures, there is a clear trend across medical specialties to seek and apply minimally invasive interventions and treatments, in order to reduce critical care demand, improve the patient experience, and to ease the volume and financial pressures off the hospital care environment.

Paired with this trend, due to the very nature of minimally invasive techniques, patients are often no longer required to stay overnight in hospitals, and day patients and outpatient cases are growing steadily.

Medtech suppliers should ask themselves: which procedures are shifting to ambulatory departments? Which specialisms are showing the strongest trends outside of the hospital setting, and which ones are remaining strongly imbedded within hospitals?

A worldwide unsustainable demand upon inpatient hospital care

As described in M. Porter’s article The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care, hospitals are seeking ways to relocate routine procedures to out-of-hospital facilities, in order to free up budgets, operating rooms and highly specialized staff, so that these can deal faster and better with the more complex cases.

The care setting evolution is clear: there is a systematic preference to perform patient care and interventions in such a way that patients can return home as soon as possible.

Care setting

In the dynamics and shift of traditional in-hospital care to outpatient and ambulatory care, arose a pull-and-shove between what is best for the healthcare system as a whole, the payer, the patient, and the provider’s purse.

The growth of ambulatory and outpatient markets

Outpatient markets in certain EU nations are growing to over 50% of overall expenditure on healthcare. In Sweden, for example, outpatient costs are close to 62%, 52% in Germany, and 43% in France.

Regarding private care – in the EU- around 30% of private health insurance spending is on inpatient care, and 20% is spent on outpatient care. Due to the inherent nature of private care, where patients are willing to pay more out of pocket for additional attention and care elements such as an overnight stay- inpatient care volumes and reducing critical care settings are not being targeted as heavily as within the public sector. Nonetheless, at the same time, private clinics are also expanding their outpatient service portfolio, as ambulatory technology becomes more available and demanded, and/or to serve as ambulatory centers for hospitals (from either public or private sector).

Which surgical procedures exactly are trending the most? Or the least? And where should one target the consumer group; who is the appropriate payer and procuring party?

The role of the payer in this market development should not be underestimated. Health insurance companies and other public payers have a substantial influence on the drive from stationary to ambulatory care, following one principle belief: (almost) any care is obtained at a lower cost outside of a hospital, than inside a hospital by a specialist.

The most common procedures shifting from in to outpatient/ambulatory are those in post-operative segments, i.e. care that can comfortably, safely and easily be performed from home, and intervention follow-up that has shown to have low risk rates of post-op complications, where a non-specialist physician or nurse can lend the care (ambulatory).

Specialty procedures within cardiovascular and neurological surgical domains, and oncological treatments (e.g. chemotherapy), are least likely to shift massively any time soon into ambulatory fields, as these are high risk and impact areas. However, follow-up care solutions from e-health apps and tele-monitoring are growing quickly, specifically in these specialties, precisely due to their high risk character. So even in fields where inpatient hospitalization care remains strong, ambulatory care solutions are growing simultaneously in order to aid/follow-up on them.

Opportunities in ambulatory markets

  1. Porter, in the same article as referenced earlier, gives an example of a hospital’s care guarantee stemming from Germany, where the hospital will cover the patient’s cost if and when the patient must undergo a re-hospitalization related to the original treatment. More and more care providers are adopting shared-risk costing schemes of this nature. Although this case study reaffirms an unavoidable and continued reliance upon hospitalization, it also draws out new opportunities for home care solutions, for thorough and clinically responsible follow-ups outside of the hospital setting, treatment/medication adherence applications, tele-health and e-health. Any and all product that stimulate, improve and boost out-of-hospital care.

Another interesting opportunity, is that within product development itself. More diagnostics are continuously being devised for outpatients, to provide faster results that require lesser hospital contact time for the patient; again, freeing up hospital resources to handle more acute and critical cases and saving the hospital costs.

Endoscopic and laparoscopic equipment and devices are evidently highly demanded, as these are core instruments within the field of MIS.

The Tool for Growth to fine-tune market strategies

  • The key is to identify WHERE what procedures are being performed, and to learn what the preference is of a given sector/setting. To know where and how a particular intervention is approached on a nationwide level, enables you to tailor your product offer in such a way that is responsive (and or proactive) to the needs, demands, and growing trends within the providing facility.
  • When you can see statistically whether a procedure is performed in-hospital, ambulatory, or out-of-hospital (typically private clinics) – you can identify market/product opportunities, gaps in provision, bottlenecks, overall trends, declines, etc., and gear your sales teams and appropriate your product offer accordingly.

For these reasons, TforG has created additional search filters in its online platform myToolsforGrowth, that divides surgical procedure volumes into various settings: in-hospital, ambulatory, and out-of-hospital.

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About Laura Weynants

Performs primary and secondary market research to create country reports at TforG. Interviews KOLs and medical sector professionals to build on TforG’s healthcare market expertise and competence networks. Complementing five years of sustainability policy and CSR communication, she now focuses on grasping key medical market trends, structures and opportunities in medical sectors worldwide. Coming from an international background of living in Germany, Spain, USA, UK and Belgium, she has gained a keen insight in international organizations and language skills to perform first hand investigations. She graduated from Sussex University Brighton, UK with a BA English Literature and Sociology and achieved a Master Degree in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility in EOI Business School in Madrid, Spain.