Last month was The MedTech Conference, a large medical device industry conference. For the past 5 years, the conference has included the MedTech Innovator Award to a company voted on as a game-changer in the industry.
This year, for the first time, MedTech Innovator paired up with other industry representatives to announce a Global Health Innovator Award. The creation of this new award marks a sea change in the medical device industry and aims to help accelerate the creation of healthcare technologies for the developing world.
One of the most interesting aspects of working in the Global Health arena is the often unarticulated differences in what an organization means by the term “global health.” The term can mean different things across non-profit, academic, and commercial communities, and the differences are reflected in who the communities see as stakeholders, the kind of problems they seek to solve, and the scope of their agendas.
Non-profits and foundations often tie Global Health to public health, identifying pressing medical challenges among a population and devising national-level and international strategies to address those issues, often with programmatic interventions. In recent decades, such initiatives have ranged from working with pharmaceutical companies to make HIV ARTs available, reducing malaria cases with mosquito abatement and bed net distribution, and reducing maternal and child mortality through a variety of safe birth initiatives.
For the academic community, Global Health often means doing the basic research that helps to identify those national level priorities. It also involves pairing up with the non-profit sector and conducting research on interventions, such as developing treatments for neglected diseases to clinical trials to work strengthening health systems.
For the companies out there --- especially multinationals -- Global Health has meant, among other things, creating initiatives to develop low cost medical devices for emerging markets, creating specific product lines that eliminate features from existing devices to lower costs, and building training programs to expand the reach of new standards of care.
This new MedTech award is a sign of new ways of thinking about healthcare gaps worldwide -- one that balances top-down and bottom-up approaches. It’s part of a movement to bring a customer-focused approach to solution creation. The healthcare sector in the developing world is expanding rapidly, with a growing private sector component. It’s a perfect time to think about healthcare equity in terms of a combination of what public health agendas need and customers want.
See our press release "Shift Labs Wins Global Health Innovator Award Recognizing Innovative IV Infusion Technology"
Learn more in the MedTech Conference Blog
Co-founder & CEO