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MedTech

Medical technology explained very simply: Medical technology is an engineering discipline. Medical technology develops and manufactures products, devices, and procedures for the prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of diseases. It is a highly regulated, but also steadily growing industry.  Medical technology provides the link between medicine and the engineering sciences. Advances in diagnostics and therapy are largely based on technical innovations. For non-invasive diagnostics and monitoring systems, for example, control technology, sensor technology, and data processing play a major role. The implementation of innovative ideas in powerful, practical, and cost-effective applications therefore increasingly requires interdisciplinary knowledge that combines engineering and scientific know-how.

Special features in medical technology

Demographic change is increasing the demand for healthcare services. On the other hand, technology is developing at a rapid pace – diseases can be detected more quickly and treated with ever better methods than was possible just a few years ago. Since innovations in the field of medical care are generated by the development and market launch of new medical technology products, medical technology represents a steadily growing market that requires skilled personnel with a technical background as well as solid medical knowledge. However, according to the German Medical Technology Association, companies lack technologically skilled professionals. The demographic change increased health awareness and medical-technical progress point to strong long-term growth rates and great employment potential in medical technology. Many new ideas are generated each year by the small companies or start-ups that emerge from university spin-offs or research projects. Compared to other industries, medical technology has been ranked number one in patent applications for years.

How are innovative medical products created?

The industry generates more than half of its sales with products that are no more than three years old. It is new, innovative medical products that promise the most sales – in contrast to imitations of existing products. To generate innovations, medical technology companies often work closely with research institutions such as the industry-oriented Fraunhofer societies. Ideally, research projects are even funded. EU-funded projects are one possibility here.

What counts as medical devices?

Medical devices include, for example, medical software, laboratory diagnostics, implants, products for injection, infusion, transfusion, and dialysis, human medical instruments, medical software, catheters, pacemakers, dental products, dressing materials, visual aids, X-ray equipment, and medical instruments. Medical devices are also products that contain or are coated with a substance or preparations of substances that, when used separately, are considered to be medicinal products or components of a medicinal product (including plasma derivatives) and can exert an effect on the human body in addition to the functions of the product. The legal definition of medical devices is contained in the Medical Devices Act.

Careers in medical technology

The broad spectrum of medical technology relies on numerous key technologies. These include microsystems technology, nanotechnology, optical technologies, and information and communication technology applications. The range of careers that engineers in medical technology can enter is correspondingly wide. Graduates in medical technology work primarily in the medical technology industry, but also hospitals and research institutes. They develop medical devices, work as computer scientists in hospitals, advise medical technology companies, or are active in science and research. The prospects for the future are good. After all, medical technology is an innovative field that will continue to develop rapidly in the coming decades due to demographic change alone.

Future and challenges of medical technology

A German medical technology company invests an average of about 10% of its sales in the research and development of new technologies. That is more than twice as much as an average industrial company invests. And it shows: The industry has a future. This is confirmed by the German Medical Technology Association. However, it also points out the problems. Regulatory requirements, in particular, pose major challenges for companies. The association calls for a faster approach to benefit assessment. The U.S. regulatory authority has already accelerated the processes – Germany should therefore not allow itself to be left behind, according to one of the association’s demands. One of the greatest challenges facing medical technology in the coming decades will be to enable people to live independently into old age. Especially against the background of the shortage of skilled nursing staff. New medical technology devices can ensure that people will be able to cope and be cared for better in old age and with chronic illnesses in the future than is still the case today.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
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Start-Up Network

The start-up cosmos is large and yet many founders feel alone at first. Especially at the beginning, you are faced with countless new tasks, unpredictable questions, or even a new industry. Once the initial sensory overload has been overcome, it is worth pausing and looking around the scene. After all, all founders have to take their first uncertain steps and it is all the more logical to learn from those who have already done so. But where can you meet like-minded people, idea sharers, fellow sufferers, and potential business partners?

Network & Contacts

Networking is a key component for your start-up success. Good business contacts open doors for the future of your business idea. You might also leave a good impression on potential financiers. But how do I do “real networking”?  It is important not to rush to every event, but to select only those events and functions that deliver added value and to take the time to prepare for the right events accordingly. After all, not every event has the right audience. Also, it is important not only at events but also in personal conversations to get the most essential info across in a short time. It is important to make yourself and the idea interesting, exciting, entertaining! You should give your counterpart a reason why she or he should learn more about you.

70-20-10 Rule 

Most people don’t like to be bombarded with information. Networking should not be a monologue, but a conversation in which a lot of listening is involved. For a good conversation structure, you can follow the 70-20-10 rule:

70% of the time: offer help

Most of the time one should demonstrate that potential partners and customers can count on them and offer your support. Provide useful contacts, make a helpful phone call, or offer tips – you make sure that the contacts in your network benefit from you. The goal is to build trust. By asking for help early on, you can be mistaken for being greedy or inconsiderate, and in the worst case, scare off your partner. Therefore, you should be the source of trust yourself first. It is also possible to involve others at events, listening to people and engaging them in conversation as opportunities arise.

20% of the time: communicate your idea

After you have proven yourself to be a useful contact for others, it is time to put yourself out there as a person. Be careful, this does not mean representing yourself as a show-off, but

rather the project you are working on or how you would like to improve the working atmosphere in the company or similar things.

10% of the time: asking for help

After you have built trust, gained sympathy, and communicated your ideas, you can ask your network for advice or help with problems.

Consulting & Coaching

Online, at events, and in networks, founders can make their first contacts easily and without complications. Another decisive advantage is that these spheres are often home to financially and substantively strong partners who are happy to invest in innovative ideas. Of course, they are primarily looking for the one business idea that will ultimately bring in a lot of money. But many strategic investors are also looking for new fields and founders who are simply convincing. Unlike classic venture capital or business angels, they do not just want to help the founders achieve quick success with a lot of money. They advise and support professionally as well as financially over a long time and thus ensure a more sustainable scaling of the start-up. So if you prefer to grow steadily, but with a lot of know-how at your side, you should rather turn to a strategic consultant. Therefore, one should make sure to have entrepreneurs in one’s network who have already made it to where one wants to go. Because these entrepreneurs were also once founders and know the situation from their own experience. However, they are already one step ahead and it is precisely from them that you can learn a thing or two.

Founder competitions

Since most start-ups crave funding and exchange with experts at the beginning, participation in founder competitions is recommended. The own development starts already with the application. This is because extensive idea sketches, initial building blocks for a business plan, or other details are often required, forcing someone to formulate the project as concretely and convincingly as possible. Especially at the beginning of a start-up, this can help to get structure and clarity for the idea. Also, participating in a start-up competition allows direct contact with professionals, mentors, and the jury, all of whom are experts in their respective fields. Through the exchange, one can take away a lot of valuable know-how, especially since the participants more often receive direct feedback on their idea. Depending on the stage of the company, the competitions themselves are also designed to further develop the participants’ idea or business plan and take it to the next level. This means that in addition to the prospect of winning great prizes, you can also pick up some free coaching. Some contests also provide teams with personal mentors to work on the concept together. Participants also get access to contacts that wouldn’t be as easy to come by under normal circumstances, such as potential partners. Many start-up competitions also offer exclusive events for (former) participants or alumni networks. Another advantage of start-up competitions is the press coverage. Visibility is the factor that founders have to fight hard for. However, during and after participating in a founder competition, all eyes are on the teams. This guarantees the attention of media, potential first customers, cooperation partners as well as investors. The competition’s seal of approval can also be of great importance: Depending on how well-known and prestigious the competition is, a competition title increases the start-up’s reputation and can also act as a door opener.

It is important to take the time to select a competition and check to what extent you can benefit from the supporting program of the corresponding start-up competition. Not every one of the many competitions will advance someone in the same way. However, with such a wide range, there is certainly something for everyone. But above all, it is important to be true to yourself, to dare to take the step toward self-employment, and to never lose patience.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
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Digital Health

Digital transformation has fully taken hold of the healthcare sector and has come at just the right moment. Because of the large number of important medical decisions and the associated impact on patients’ quality of life, the healthcare sector is in urgent need of the possibilities offered by digitalization. After all, patient care often happens under high workloads, time constraints, complex paperwork, and an ever-changing job profile for medical staff. Also, the increasing aging of the population, the rise in chronic diseases, and the explosion of costs in the healthcare sector pose an enormous challenge for the healthcare system. Digital innovation seems to be the only and viable solution to all these difficulties. Digitalization is shifting the focus away from individual healthcare to a networked, global mindset. In the future, communication and information technologies will help to improve the electronic processing of communication, information, and data acquisition for medical care, documentation, and treatments in the healthcare sector, to provide ideal and individualized patient care.

What does digital health mean?

 

Digital health describes the combination of medicine and technology. It serves as a collective term for various technological innovations and applications in the healthcare sector. This ranges from hospital management and electronic health records to health apps and fitness trackers. For doctors, digitalization in the healthcare system is great support, as it can facilitate the diagnosis of complex diseases, analysis and interpretation of patient-related data, and treatment of diseases using artificial intelligence (AI). Digital health can also support patients in their everyday lives through monitoring sensors, rehabilitation robotics for people with disabilities, or long-term care.

What are the digital areas in healthcare?

 

health IT: it deals with the design, development, creation, use, and maintenance of healthcare information systems. It deals with the application of information processing, storage, retrieval, and use of data for communication and decision-making in healthcare. 

 

e-Health: stands for electronic health, which merges the three industries of medicine, IT, and healthcare management. It serves as an umbrella term for electronic health records, electronically supported disease, and knowledge management, and personally delivered healthcare for the diagnosis, monitoring, consultation, appointments, and prescriptions.

 

m-Health: stands for mobile health and refers to the use of smartphone or tablet apps to support medical processes. This includes, for example, the determination of vital signs such as blood glucose or body temperature, but also communication or motivational applications designed to remind people to take medication, among other things

Telemedicine: describes the provision of healthcare services and medical education over a distance, using information and communication technology. All healthcare providers can be involved in the delivery of telemedicine. 

Health Smart Home (HSH): describes the equipping of the living space of people with special needs for healthcare purposes. The aim is to increase patient/resident safety by monitoring and controlling the immediate physical environment with a focus on health status.

How will digital health develop?

 

The first steps in the digitalization of the German healthcare system have been set 2019 in motion by various legal measures. In addition to electronic prescriptions and electronic patient files with smartphone or tablet access, the new laws also enable the establishment of a telematics infrastructure to which service provider groups (midwives, physiotherapists, and care facilities) can voluntarily connect. With the help of these measures, the German Federal Ministry of Health would like to enable medical prescriptions for prescription drugs to be issued only electronically via the telematics infrastructure from 2022. But for this to happen, good digital services must be available promptly and services such as video consultations, electronic prescriptions, and the electronic patient file must become a natural part of everyday care. Another step in digitalization is the expansion of artificial intelligence. 

What are the obstacles to digitalization?

 

Before healthcare providers can realize the enormous potential of digitalization, several obstacles must be overcome – from efficient processing of the growing flood of data to better integration and education of the population. Physicians need new tools to process the flood of medical data quickly and accurately. Artificial intelligence capabilities provide the critical foundation for efficient decision support in routine clinical practice. Acceptance and trust are elementary prerequisites for advancing digital healthcare. That is why it is important to educate and create understanding for digital solutions in healthcare. This does not only apply to doctors, psychotherapists, and other service providers. It is equally important to build and strengthen the (digital) health literacy of patients. More and more people are informing themselves about health issues on the Internet. But one in two faces problems in finding their way around the healthcare system, evaluating information, and making the right decisions in the face of an increasing wealth of information. The goal of digitalization should be to sustainably increase health knowledge and thus help make it more user-friendly and modern.

What prospects does digitalization promise?

 

Digitalization promises to improve patient care while increasing efficiency in the healthcare system and also reducing costs. It can close information gaps, avoid misdiagnoses, improve prevention, and individualize diagnostics and therapy. Digitalization thus represents a huge growth market from both a medical and an economic perspective. In an international comparison, the U.S. and China are currently leading in the state of healthcare digitalization and innovation, as they are already dominant in other high-tech industries. In this context, Artificial intelligence represents a technological megatrend. It could be shown that in more than 2/3 of the companies in Germany AI is classified as important or even essential. Intending to make Germany a leading location for artificial intelligence, the German government’s National AI-Strategy has launched funding programs, initiatives and cooperations to use AI to improve and facilitate not only advanced patient care but also everyday life and work.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.