2024 medical technology trends

17 Jan 2024 16min read

Team Discussion

Multiple authors

The world of medical technologies is changing, with new innovations unlocking more ways to treat patients and improve the way we approach healthcare. Team’s world-leading experts share their insights on the key medical technology trends to look out for in 2024, from the applications of AI to personalized medicine, digital therapeutics and more.


    1. Drug delivery – the role of partnerships in innovation
    2. Digital health – personalisation, digital biomarkers and AI
    3. Diagnostics – the drive for more point of care testing
    4. Surgical – robotics, AI and the drive for innovation in surgical tools
    5. Sustainability – is device reusability the answer?
    6. Biotherapeutics – the drive for personalised medicines
    7. Wearables – driving better diagnostics
    8. FemTech – bridging the health data gap

Drug delivery – the role of partnerships in innovation

Brennan Miles, Head of Drug Delivery

2023 was a bumpy year for all, with high inflation, raising costs and challenges with releasing funds for new development and innovation projects. The state of the economy has had a belt-tightening effect on private capital which – coupled with increasing financial and regulatory scrutiny – has made it harder for BioTech and MedTech companies to access equity and make progress in the way they would have liked.

These challenges have however also brought new opportunities to innovate and grow in different ways, which are shaping the latest trends in medical technology. For example, partnership models supporting the entire ecosystem – from new clinical discovery to development, clinical trial and manufacturing – have replaced traditional in-house development teams. In the past few years, it has almost become a cliché that a huge amount of scientific and technological innovation happens outside of the large pharma organisations.

Partnerships are now the go to way for collaborating on a joint venture, enabling companies to rapidly reach important inflection points, improve efficiency and drive down operational costs, without huge capital outlays. This is playing out in all areas of drug discovery, through to technology and device innovation.

One of the key medical technology trends for 2024 will be continuing to build on partnerships in areas like the digital space, streamlining everything in the continuum of healthcare from new molecule discovery through to clinical trials management, diagnostics, screening and patient centric treatments. Pharma’s partnerships with digital and AI companies have remained steady, as they are seeing strategic long-term partnerships as the ones that will pay off longer term.

Targeted and personalised drug delivery

Targeted and personalised drug delivery remains the silver bullet for many disease areas. Precision medicine and drug delivery has the potential to significantly improve the way diseases are diagnosed and treated in areas such as oncology, immunology, heart disease and others. But there is no simple ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Companies looking to make bounds in this space are involving technology and innovation specialists early in the drug discovery process to navigate the grey-area between technology and formulation kinetics, as well as to maximise the opportunities for success. A multi-science approach is clearly needed, where formulators work directly alongside drug delivery and technology experts. This will enable companies to develop new methods for accessing organs or sites within the body, whilst controlling the dosage and release rate and establishing novel feedback loops to maximise effectiveness and minimise risk.

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Digital health – personalisation, digital biomarkers, and AI

Ben Cox, Head of Digital Health

2023 saw the first reduction after a peak in health apps and a shift towards more disease-specific products, indicating that 2024 will see further consolidation, with a focus on real value through optimizing outcomes, reducing costs, and improving patient experiences. Companies will likely continue to focus on scalability, leveraging platform approaches and partnerships to deliver impact.

As companies seek to better understand patient and health system needs, there will continue to be a growing emphasis on the need to understand customer experience and engagement. As part of this, we can expect to see MedTech trends from the consumer industry such as hyper-personalization and omnichannel experience delivery to start to translate into the digital health space. Coupled with the rise of wearable technologies and data interoperability, there are now more and more opportunities for companies to create truly personalized digital health offerings.

In other areas, digital therapeutics (DTx) hold great promise for innovation; however, the industry must build on some hard lessons from the past year. Investors and regulators have rightly set the bar high for evidence requirements, and new commercialization strategies are needed to improve the chances of success. The FDA guidance on Regulatory Considerations for Prescription Drug Use-Related Software shows promise in starting to unlock the DTx market from a pharma perspective. The guidance states that when additional clinically meaningful benefit is demonstrated through the combination of Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) and pharmacotherapy, this benefit may be included on a drug’s label. This has the potential to further drive DTx innovation in the pharma space – one of the key medical technology trends to watch closely throughout 2024 and beyond.

Over the past year, we have also seen some high-profile gains for digital biomarkers, building from recent successes with the FDA and EMA starting to accept the replacement of traditional clinical trial endpoints. We can expect to see more activity in this area helped also by the publication of final FDA guidance on Digital Health Technologies for Remote Data Acquisition in Clinical Investigations.

Last but by no means least, AI of course remains a key area to keep an eye on for 2024. Building from the growth of AI in recent years, we can expect to see the industry begin to embed AI-enabled solutions at scale in healthcare. The FDA (on the back of a new tranche of approvals through 2022 and 2023) is expected to continue to increase its rate of approvals by more than 30% for AI/ML technologies throughout 2024. It will be exciting to see the digital health innovations and new medical device technology trends that emerge from this rapidly developing space.

Diagnostics – the drive for more point of care testing

Liz Thorn, Head of Diagnostics

The IVD industry has been through a turbulent time in the last few years, from the boom of COVID testing, to the bust when testing levels dropped significantly. Throughout 2023, there was a consolidation in the market, with some companies going out of business altogether due to a lack of funding, and others being acquired by larger organisations – a notable example being the recently announced deal between LumiraDx and Roche Diagnostics.

Moving into 2024, we can expect a better year for the IVD sector on the whole. The latest trends in medical technology continue to advance at a rapid pace, with lots of companies discussing the use of AI to enable new technologies, such as Raman spectroscopy to be utilised in commercial diagnostic products. Meanwhile, sequencing will continue to be exploited more widely in routine clinical testing.

These technological advances have also allowed more accurate testing to be carried out in non-clinical laboratory settings. This trend will likely continue as point of care testing becomes widely adopted in pharmacies and other non-clinical settings.

As healthcare systems across the world deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, more testing will also be carried out by patients themselves, which will enable individuals to be monitored by clinicians outside the hospital setting. This has been demonstrated by the huge growth and success of virtual wards and hospitals at home.

While these are all exciting developments, the IVD industry still has challenges ahead, such as the transition time for the IVDR and the need to address sustainability requirements. We’re excited to continue working with companies throughout 2024 to help address these challenges and drive new innovations in diagnostics.

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Surgical – robotics, AI and the drive for innovation in surgical tools

Oliver Sowerby, Head of Surgical Innovation

Over the past few years, there has been a big focus on complex surgical technology such as robotics. This medical technology trend looks to be continuing into 2024 with advanced tech such as AR/XR and AI being used to augment the capabilities of the surgeon during procedures and to aid in surgical training. But as the market dominance of companies such as Intuitive becomes clear, it is now difficult for smaller companies to compete with such commercial might, which is often key to market adoption.

This has produced a revived focus on innovation in more traditional surgical techniques, such as laparoscopy. In the UK, there is certainly a rise in the number of surgeons who have a passion for innovation and an interest in the ability of technology to improve their procedures and benefit their patients. What is critical to achieve this is the development of simple, cost-effective and accessible technology which can be made available to as many patients as possible.

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Sustainability – is device reusability the answer?

Alastair Willoughby, Head of Mechanical Engineering and Sustainability Lead

Sustainability in healthcare will remain a hot topic in 2024 as net zero targets draw ever closer. The drive for sustainability in medical devices continues to gain momentum as more goals are set and deadlines approach for carbon reduction.

In 2023, there was a definite uptick in sustainable strategies being explored in terms of future medical device technology trends, in the form of both reusable drug delivery systems and wider horizon solutions considering the entire lifecycle from manufacture to reuse. We expect that this focus will remain for the future, as the pressure from other industries is now filtering down into pharma and biotech. Injectable and respiratory devices are often seen as very visible aspects of plastic waste from the perspective of the consumer, and those companies that are making real progress towards sustainable futures will have a competitive advantage.

One of the key ways that companies are working towards cutting back on plastic and other waste is by moving away from single use devices to reuseable devices. While this move can provide significant savings in carbon footprint, to understand the full impact we also need to consider the costs of preparing a device for reuse, whether through cleaning and re-sterilisation, reprocessing or utilising a disposable element.

In some cases, it might be that the cost of moving to a reusable device – either financially or in carbon footprint terms – may not provide a significant sustainability ‘win’, while potentially raising other challenges itself, such as transportation considerations or more complex user interactions. One example of this would be a device where the disposable element, such as a pre-filled syringe, has a high financial and environmental unit cost, as well as a higher device cost to allow for reusability. For short courses of treatment in particular, a series of single use devices may still be the better option. As with all aspects of sustainable product design, there is a clear need to understand the wider implications of your design decisions. Moving into 2024, we can hope to see more companies seeking to better understand their carbon footprint and more progress being made in sustainable device development as key medical technology trends for this year.

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Biotherapeutics – the drive for personalised medicines

Kella Kapnisi, Project Manager and Biotherapeutics Lead

Despite the decline in investments for early-stage biotech companies, 2023 proved to be a pivotal year for biotherapeutics, marked by significant breakthroughs. The surge in the number of cell and gene therapies (CGTs) in clinical trials – reaching over 1,600 in 2023 compared to around 1,000 in 2018, as reported by the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) – indicates a significant trajectory. Many of these therapies are successfully advancing from early-stage clinical trials to later stages and gaining regulatory approvals. Notably, in 2023 the groundbreaking Casgevy, the first CRISPR-based gene-editing cell therapy, secured approvals from both the UKCA and FDA.

Throughout 2024, the biopharmaceutical pipeline is anticipated to witness continued growth, with the number of CGT developers now surpassing 2,700, a remarkable increase from the 900 recorded in 2018. This will demand considerable attention from regulators and those overseeing clinical trials for CGTs.

While this expansion is positive, it brings to the forefront various challenges within the burgeoning industry, including workforce shortages, escalating manufacturing costs, challenges in supply chain management, and a lack of standardisation. In 2024 we anticipate a heightened reliance on enabling technologies to alleviate these challenges, which will itself fuel medical technology industry trends. These will likely include leveraging advanced bioprocess measurement capabilities, employing digitisation and artificial intelligence for efficient handling and analysis of collected data, and increasing automation through aseptic, closed systems. These approaches are all feeding into the longer-term trend of decentralised manufacturing, with personalised medicines moving towards the point of care.

Wearables - driving better diagnostics

Chris Baldock, UX Design Consultant

The market for wearable medical technology has seen rapid growth in the last decade, and will continue this rapid growth for the foreseeable future. Challenges such as accurately measuring complex biomarkers have been traditionally tackled using cumbersome equipment or in specialist facilities. As well as being expensive, inflexible and non-scalable, these approaches also make it difficult to measure data over time.

Small, discreet wearable devices can now be used in conjunction with intelligent software to inform healthcare practitioners of patient progress in real time, leading to much more accurately targeted and timely treatments. Notable applications include detecting Afib, diagnosing sleep apnoea, cough diagnosis, gait and foot pressure analysis and maintaining an accurate physical rehab schedule.

Therapeutic practice is also experiencing a revolution thanks to wearable technology, and this looks set to be one of the key medical device technology trends for 2024. Parkinson’s symptoms, peripheral neuropathy, depression and even gene therapy can be treated using small wearable devices. In other areas, combination diagnostics and therapeutics have been on the market for some time in the form of insulin pumps with continuous glucose monitoring. Apart from drug delivery, we may see more innovative combination products begin to emerge, especially in cases where wearable diagnostics are combined with therapeutic technology such as dermal electrostimulation, neural electrostimulation, therapeutic ultrasound and other non-invasive technologies.

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FemTech – bridging the health data gap

Lara Zaki, FEI Strategy and Innovation Consultant and FemTech Lead

Moving into 2024, the FemTech sector is set to increasingly leverage developments in AI, in an effort to meaningfully interpret data collected from advancements in digital health (for example, self-monitoring data from cycle tracking apps, or data from radiological scans to assist in oncology diagnoses).

The challenge for this sector, however, is that there remains a data gap in women’s health. While AI can help women and their clinicians interpret data, it also risks perpetuating health disparities by applying incomplete or irrelevant data to inform healthcare decisions. The FemTech industry will have a key role to play in fighting this, by creating bespoke AI solutions that are inclusive and impactful, and – cautiously – integrating them into technologies and care pathways. Part of this will involve ramping up data collection in women’s health, which will also require efforts towards improving data protection standards.

Digital health apps continue to play a significant role in empowering women with self-awareness, particularly in areas such as fertility, contraception, and menstrual health. With more companies exploring how to integrate mobile apps with wearables and AI (for example as seen with the Clue and Oura partnership, combining a smart ring with a cycle tracking app), the FemTech industry is also helping to contribute to a more holistic picture of women’s health. This will involve looking beyond the impact of hormones on fertility and menstruation, to the impact of the hormone cycle on general health, mood, well-being and susceptibility to other conditions.

Fertility tech is a subsector that is also expected to flourish, with innovations not only in tracking and self-monitoring, but in enhancing the accessibility of fertility treatments (for example the Bea Fertility at-home programme). We’ve also seen exciting growth and acquisitions that will contribute to the scaling of interventions related to pelvic health, and new developments in the treatment and diagnosis of endometriosis.

With increased awareness around intersectionality and the exacerbating effects of socio-economic status and race on gender health disparities, we can also expect (and hope) to see a proliferation of medical technology trends that increase healthcare accessibility and inclusivity.

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