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Patients demand innovation, and health systems need it

A recent meeting with a private equity investor went down the path of minimally invasive surgery and the incredibly fascinating innovation in implantable medtech.

My mother in law suffered two brain aneurysms in 2018 and underwent a complex eight-hour long procedure called endovascular coiling, where a wire was inserted up through the leg into the brain to close the hole. The level of precision and intricacy astounded me at the time and still does today.

However, the new technology means that this complex and incredibly expensive procedure could be replaced by a minimally invasive procedure done in as little as 25 minutes.

Aneurysms are serious, but interventions don’t always need to be immediate. Many people can continue to live a completely normal life, while simply monitoring them.

Swapping family health experiences, this particular investor revealed that a relative is currently living with an aneurysm and waiting for the very best technology before having surgery.

Such technology is pretty new. It emerged in the last 10-15 years, but – thanks to extensive research, trials and investment – has the potential to revolutionise quality and outcomes. Currently its success rate is already around the 70% mark, and will only continue to improve.

Another innovation being tested is a coating that mimics the body’s tissue cells and reduces blockages and the secondary risk of stroke.

Today’s patient has access to a huge amount of information. This includes the ability to research and understand the treatments and procedures they are being presented with online. The power dynamic shift from doctor to patient brought on by immediate access to information means that patients are increasingly demanding the latest tech.

As general interest in one’s own health and wellness continues to ramp up, demand from patients for the best and latest technology and treatments will only increase.

And health systems need innovation if we are ever going to reach the goal of health equity.

Taking a U.S. cost estimate for a coiling procedure versus using a flow diverter, the difference is $300,000 per procedure for the former and $50,000 for the latter – music to payors’ ears! An EU or UK cost estimate would see a roughly similar saving. The challenge will be convincing surgeons to adopt it.

Healthcare is such an exciting sector and we are in an age of incredible innovation.

A CEO of a primary care group remarked to me this week that healthcare hasn’t changed much since the 1920s and that technology, particularly digital technology, is simply a tool to enable the real innovation in processes to take place.

We are seeing reams and reams of examples of innovation in healthcare making incremental gains in access, outcomes, quality and reducing costs.

The use of AI for efficiency gains is showing enormous potential. For example, according to one AI imaging company, a 30% reduction in the time taken to read a diagnostic image can directly translate into a five-to-seven percentage point increase in EBITDA margin. As providers continue to experiment in AI to reduce clinical admin burden (with applications such as emergency room triage, recording medical notes and writing discharge notes) doctors will gain back more time to spend with patients.

Monitoring patients remotely from home, and even moving minor surgical procedures or chemotherapy and dialysis into a home setting, has a huge impact in freeing up beds and capacity for hospitals.

In care, investment in innovation is being heralded as a way to repair the reputational damage that the pandemic and recent scandals have had on the sector. The hope is that investing in technology, digitalising processes can free up time for carers to care for residents, and will rapidly increase the quality perception and performance in nursing homes and homecare settings.

The potential for innovation is enormous, but so is the challenge. It requires investment, experimentation and for leaders to drive change and take successful pilot projects to scale initiatives across entire organisations and health systems. It also requires payors, governments and regulators to be on board and for them all to take a long term view.


HBI 2024, “New Models for the New Era”, June 10-12 in London features CEOs from all corners of the sector share their success stories in innovation. Hear directly about the impact made and lessons learned in scale and growth through case studies and data-driven presentations.

You can find out more and book your tickets here

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Lee Murray or call 0207 183 3779.