Health IT, Devices & Diagnostics

Bringing the sexy (back) to medtech

AdvaMed, the medtech industry association in Washington, D.C., is launching AdvaMed Digital to give digital health companies a voice in the policy battles ahead, and perhaps to shore up its own membership that was affected by medtech mergers.

digital health makeover, change

Underscoring the trend of digitization that is on an inexorable path to influence all segments in healthcare, a medtech lobby group announced Monday that it is launching a digital-focused sector within its organization.

Washington, D.C.-based AdvaMed, an industry association said that AdvaMed Digital will be dedicated to the needs of the “burgeoning digital health space.”

It’s a smart move by the medtech association to serve a growing sector within healthcare, one that is now interfacing with the traditional medtech industry to create smart, connected devices. For example, the sexy makeover of the humble blood pressure cuff into things like the connected Withings blood pressure monitor with the companion Health Mate app. Or even St. Jude Medical’s implantable pressure sensor that communicates wirelessly warning of worsening heart failure remotely.

“From mobile devices that provide individuals personalized health care information to harnessing Big Data to find solutions for entire patient populations, digital health companies are transforming how we think about health care every day,” said Scott Whitaker, AdvaMed president, and CEO, in a news release.

The goal is to help digital health companies find a voice in the nation’s capital.

“This new frontier of care promises incredible benefits for patients and efficiencies for healthcare systems,” Whitaker stressed, “but only if public policies are in place that promote innovation along with high standards for patient safety, and companies understand how to navigate the regulatory and reimbursement systems still being developed. That’s why AdvaMed Digital is an essential resource for digital health companies and a key stakeholder in shaping the policy environment for this emerging area of health care.”

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While this play allows digital health companies to have a group that is ready to go to battle for them in Washignton, D.C., it also is a way to shore up the AdvaMed’s own revenue. With more and more traditional medtech’s seeking mergers – think, Medtronic and Covidien; Biomet and Zimmer and the list goes on, membership dues likely saw some impact. Now with AdvaMed Digital, the association can increase the numbers of new members, which should have a positive impact on its cofferes too.

Along with this announcement, AdvaMed also announced its first AdvaMed Digital conference – in where else but San Francisco- in March. From the agenda, it looks like it will have some level of participation from Verily Life Sciences, formerly Google Life Sciences and FDA’s Bakul Patel, a fixture on the conference circuit who explains the agency’s take on regulated mobile medical apps and digital health.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether other large healthcare lobbies have created a special subgroup within its ranks to reach digital health companies. An AdvaMed spokesman said he doesn’t believe other associations have similar initiatives.

BIO’s website shows that it collects members from companies that makes therapeutics (biologics, large molecule), drug delivery devices, diagnostics, vaccines as well as academics, food and agriculture and companies that provide services – be it professional or financial.

However, the annual BIO annual conference in San Francisco now has a strong digital health component.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America also doesn’t appear to have a focused outreach t0 digital health companies, based on information available on the website.

The broader umbrella of health IT is represented by the HIMSS(Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society)  association, which boasts of a membership of more than 600 corporations and 250 not-for-profit partner organizations worldwide.

Photo: andresr, Getty Images