Caitlin Clement|4/14/2022|3 min read

The Role Of Biomedical Companies In Telehealth

Expanding patient access to diagnostic testing


Biomedical engineering is the application of the principles and problem-solving techniques of engineering to biology and medicine. However, humans have technically been using biotechnology, a broader term, for millennia through processes like fermentation. Yeah, that brewski in your fridge is the work of age-old biotechnology!

For the purposes of this blog, though, we’re going to stick to the biomedical field. Biomedical engineering really started to pop up after WWII. Major strides were seen with inventions like the first artificial heart valve and its successful implantation in 1953. The first external cardiac pacemaker and its successful implantation in 1958. Or the introduction of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s.

Today, the work of biomedical engineers is utilized everyday. This blog will cover what a biomedical company is, what it looks like today and its contributions to the telehealth industry. Let’s jump right in!

What is a Biomedical Company?

A biomedical company or biotech company applies modern-biological principles in their engineering design process to produce healthcare-related products. Over the last few years, you’ve seen quite a few of them fill your daily news. Companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are both biomedical companies, though they’re known more recently for their pharmaceutical work.

Others focus on genetic testing, like 23andMe, where they use genotyping to find specific genetic traits in an individual's DNA. This can help predict future individual health risks and offers medical professionals access to a research database for those who opt-in.

The biomedical industry is still in its infancy when compared to other engineering and medical practices. Biotech’s have a plethora of business models, but they can all fall under two main categories.

Closed business models

These models take a more vertical approach with all key activities taking place in the four walls of the company. This can lead to higher overhead costs and closes off access to any external research and development resources. Making them dependent on their own research and data.

  • Product-based

  • Technology platform-based

  • Hybrid business model

  • Royalty Income Pharmaceutical Company model (RIPCO)

  • No Research-Development Only model

  • Pure licensing business model

  • Research service companies

  • The IPO (Initial Public Offering) financing model

Open business models

The opposite of the closed model, these open models utilize external research and development resources. They typically get around rising development costs by leveraging outside innovations. Open business models also tend to be more efficient at showing stakeholders a return on investment (ROI) because they utilize more resources.

  • The open innovation-based R&D model

  • Networked business models

  • Collaborative discovery business model

  • The Fully Diversified model

  • IP-oriented business models

  • Repurposing and technology brokering business model

  • The distributed partnering model

  • The virtual collaboration model

  • The outcome-driven business model

  • The crowdsourcing business model

  • Software as a Service

  • Bundling

  • Patient-centricity

  • The EFQM excellence model

Bioengineering’s contribution to telehealth

During the telehealth boom in the last couple of years, bioengineering has been an important partner in its success with patient care. It empowers virtual care through services like remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology and easy access to genetic testing.

Rethinking preventative health

Genetic testing has been a big contribution to preventative care and allows patients and their providers, to learn if they are at a greater risk of certain hereditary and chronic conditions. In addition, it provides telehealth providers with more insights into their patients, whom they can’t physically examine. This makes the telehealth experience more efficient and easier for the patient and provider.

This access to a patient's health data can also encourage early detection through tailored testing recommendations from their virtual provider. For example, say a 30-year-old female patient tested positive for a harmful variant of the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. The virtual care provider will see this on the patient's Electronic Health Records (EHR) and may recommend she start mammogram exams earlier. Increasing the patient's chances for early detection.

Remote Patient Monitoring

The use of RPM technology gives geriatric patients and those who live with chronic conditions more freedom. For example, a glucometer that tests a patient's blood sugar using a drop of their blood, is an essential biomedical device for those who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Even that Apple Watch or FitBit can be used as an RPM device to send biometric data back asynchronously to a patient's provider.

This data then becomes part of the patient's EHR and can be used to determine treatments and offer more accurate diagnosis. Limiting the amount of times patients have to take a trip to see their provider.

Common Types of RPM Technology:

  • Weight scales

  • Wearables (Apple Watch, FitBit, Withings)

  • Pulse oximeters

  • Glucometer

  • Blood pressure monitors

  • Apnea monitors

  • Heart monitors

  • Specialized monitors for dementia and Parkinson’s disease

  • Breathing apparatuses

  • Fetal monitors

Increased accessibility

Telehealth and biomedical companies are working together to create the greatest amount of access to health care we’ve ever seen. Much of what once could only be performed in a provider's office can now be done in a patient's home and communicated via EHR. Patients who live in rural areas, suffer from chronic conditions or have mobility issues now have the accessibility to receive and ensure care wherever they are.

Benefits to increased accessibility:

  • Early diagnosis

  • Shorter and reduced hospital visits

  • Better preventative management

  • Greater access to care

  • Reduced exposure for those with immune disorders

Powering biomedical companies

Now that you know more about the role of biomedical companies in telehealth, we’d like to introduce OpenLoop! Think of us as a telehealth company that powers other telehealth companies seamlessly, behind-the-scenes. We work with a variety of healthcare organizations seeking to launch or scale their virtual care services across the United States.

What does it mean to partner with us? We offer full-stack, intuitive telehealth support services to assist you wherever you need it the most across:

Interested in what we can do for your organization? Get in touch here!

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