The third year of the MedTech Strategist Medical Alley Innovation Summit proved to be its most captivating yet. The conference once again featured an international class of startups looking to solve healthcare problems ranging from the need to keep patients warm during surgery to AI-enabled robotic surgery, as well as a crowd of investors looking to find what’s coming next in healthcare, but there was one major addition to this year’s presentations that had been less noticeable in the past.
The need to show real value to the healthcare system was a dominant theme of nearly every presentation, panel, and address. Veteran entrepreneurs, VCs, and even opening keynote speaker Achin Bhowmik were in agreement that the days when simply being new and innovative was enough to get a product paid for and used are gone.
Dennis Wahr, the president and CEO of Nuvaira, went so far as to say that he believed that the presenting startups were facing a nearly zero-sum game: In order to break into mainstream use, they would need to displace something already in use.
Establishing clinical efficacy, once the sign of an advanced product and strong leadership team, is now table-stakes. Many of the startups that presented discussed products they would dislodge from the marketplace through superior performance and how that would drive cost out of the system – both monetary cost and the burden on doctors and nurses, though the latter can be difficult to quantify as Wayne Paterson, President & CEO of Admedus cautioned the entrepreneurs gathered at the panel, saying “There is no one body that monitors these costs, which makes calculations incredibly difficult.”
Even though they are working to enter a landscape that is shifting rapidly, the presenting startups demonstrated that challenging market conditions would not stop innovation from changing the delivery of healthcare. And while the venture capitalists that presented urged patience to those in attendance, investors eagerly connected with companies that caught their eye in the consistently busy networking hall. Both groups keenly were aware of the challenges ahead of them, yet both believed the right product in the right circumstance could both improve patient outcomes and draw costs out of the system as the panelists had advised.
While the path to reimbursement has gotten more challenging, there is still incredible upside for products that do what they say they will do and get patients back on their feet sooner and with fewer side effects. As the MedTech Strategist Medical Alley Innovation Summit heads into its fourth year, it’s safe to say that the event is developing a reputation for unearthing startups that can do exactly that, and investors have taken notice.