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MedTech Forum 2023 Reflections

MedTech Forum 2023 Reflections

Innovation Unleashing Human Potential

The Asia Pacific MedTech Forum 2023 proved that innovation is more than a buzzword with its theme of “Innovation Unleashing Human Potential”. Global and regional speakers ranging from representatives from the World Health Organisation, to health regulators from various countries, industry executives, tech evangelists, care providers, healthcare practitioners, payers and patient group representatives presented and engaged in discussions addressing critical issues facing the healthcare industry today.

Underscoring the importance of our theme, Mr YB Jagdeep Singh Deo, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, Penang State EXCO for Human Capital Development, Science, and Technology, ADUN for N29 Datok Keramat delivered a speech on fostering innovation within the region during his visit.

The 2-day event with a variety of presentations, interactive panels, fireside chats and expert summit tracks centred around innovation.  In part, because this was the #1 voted on topic coming out of the 2022 MedTech Forum, and because it’s core to the impact and future of the MedTech industry.  And yet, we put a twist on the 2023 theme by attending to the “human potential” element as well.  We observed MedTech and innovation on a similar journey post COVID-19 – the need to embrace a disruptive culture and to make a real human impact.  Governments, similarly, are positioning significant resources behind tech and talent.

We defined innovation and human potential for the MTF 2023 around three main areas:

  • Empowering patients;
  • Enabling the healthcare workforce; and
  • Elevating the MedTech industry.

 

Key takeaways from the discussion included:

  • For patients, they see great merit in MedTech in terms of life-saving diagnostics and treatments. Yet, patients seek more involvement in industry topics like design-with-empathy and sustainable access.  Patient representatives at MTF called on APACMed to further collaborate together on innovation.
  • For the healthcare workforce, tremendous progress has been made in the digital/data era (with various use cases shared), pushed in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the healthcare workforce’s perception of the MedTech industry is positive from the perspective of driving the innovation agenda, they are under stress too. Thus, it is important to also consider a focus on their well-being. 
  • Within the MedTech industry, stakeholders reflected on the decades of innovation and human potential investments which are coming to fruition, and shared their excitement for the Asia-Pacific region. That said, the industry must remember that the region is highly diverse and local cultural considerations require a tailored approach.  There remains much more work to be done around both internal and external capability development.

Ultimately, when discussing failures, all stakeholders agreed that the issues are usually more related to the people and process rather than the technology itself. Therefore, stakeholders discussed the need for inclusiveness, co-creation, and Asia-Pacific-centric designs for products and solutions. 

While only about 50% of delegates surveyed initially felt that healthcare innovation is delivering on its promise in the region, nearly 80% felt this way by the end of the sessions due to the recognition of issues while framing out clear progress and collaboration plans to take things forward.  All-in-all, MedTech Forum 2023 and the innovation + human potential theme left delegates with a sense of optimism and inspiration for the future.

Beyond the plenary discussions, the MedTech Forum also held break-out tracks for multi-stakeholder groups to deep-dive into relevant areas of interest.  These break-out tracks included topics such as evidence-based decision-making (for market access), AI/ML frameworks for regulatory pathways, access barriers for IVD technologies, among other tracks such as digital health, ethics & compliance, and China-ASEAN collaborations.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, were plenty of opportunities for delegates to network with one another. Activities included a networking app, exhibition spaces, social reception, and an Innovation Day with corporate-startup matchmaking.

We look forward to seeing everyone next September for MedTech Forum 2024 and the celebration of 10 years of APACMed’s impact in the region.

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