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These past three years have created a cataclysmic shift in the world’s appreciation for health innovation.  The healthcare industry as a whole showed the world what we can do when we allow our best minds to collaborate on groundbreaking research – and now, people want more.  People’s expectations of care have shifted; they not only need but are demanding more from medical intervention. The evolution and major changes in public policy, consumer behavior, and enabling technologies are setting a new benchmark in the standard of care. But, can we deliver?

These days, the success of just about any industry is increasingly defined by its capacity to innovate. However, the innovations occurring within the medtech industry are among the most exciting — and the most meaningful. In the medtech industry, we’re not just looking for efficiency gains. Our calling is to help save lives and change the future of health for humanity. To get there, we’re going after the five leading causes of death.

Reimagining the future of health today

Digital technology is accelerating changes in patient care at a pace the world has rarely seen before. Whether it’s using smart-sensing, machine learning, or live navigation to access difficult-to-reach anatomy, the digitalization of healthcare is creating greater access to medical interventions that are becoming smarter, more personalized, and less invasive. And interventions that go even further by combining diagnostics with therapeutics are creating whole new categories of care.

To see this promise, look to the example of lung cancer treatment. Lung cancer patients do better the earlier their cancers are detected, yet interventional pulmonologists fail to reach one-third of tumors due to periphery location or poor visualization – which is one of the reasons why lung cancer is the deadliest cancer by far, exceeding deaths from breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined. Any technology that can help improve a lung cancer patient’s chance of survival will be transformative.

At Johnson & Johnson MedTech, our MONARCH® Bronchoscopy Platform provides exactly this opportunity for early cancer detection. Through the integration of robotics, micro-instrumentation, diagnostics, sensing, and data science, MONARCH is designed to give interventional pulmonologists greater visibility, unprecedented reach and precision targeting, better diagnostic effectiveness, increased dexterity, greater diagnostic yield, and fewer patient complications.

This alone would represent a significant advance in lung cancer detection and prevention. But we’re not stopping there. By combining endoluminal endoscopy with local ablation technology or with the localized dispersal of a biopharmaceutical, we are developing technologies to be able to treat lesions at the very moment they are diagnosed. And the platform isn’t going to be limited to bronchoscopy.  With the MONARCH platform we aim to integrate across specialties, including urology and gastroenterology, for the potential management of kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer.

For these and other diseases where, until now, there have been two primary types of treatment — pharmaceutical and surgical. With the MONARCH platform we aspire to provide an option for patients that means less pain, more targeted treatment, and faster recovery, along with the larger promise of improved health span and lifespan, all while advancing our understanding of the disease.

Combining forces to solve critical challenges

This is just one example of how we are working hard to combine biopharmaceuticals with miniaturized devices, smart catheters, and smart sensors, and develop the software to integrate them all will potentially allow us to access difficult-to-reach parts of the anatomy to deliver targeted medications in ways that simply weren’t possible a few years ago.

It also illustrates how the biggest health challenges we face — whether it’s the leading causes of mortality or ongoing global pandemic— cannot be solved by a single discipline. These challenges will only be solved with the best thinking across disciplines, including biopharmaceuticals, device technology, data science, software engineering, supply chain management, public policy, and more.

This is the juncture where J&J MedTech operates, and where we are an industry leader. Our approach goes beyond treating problems: It’s about igniting what’s possible for every body.

We are focused on a mission to reimagine health, unleash diverse healthcare expertise, purposeful technology, and a passion for people to transform the future of medical intervention. And we invite the world in to join us on that mission.

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Ashley McEvoy is Executive Vice President and Worldwide Chairman of Johnson & Johnson MedTech.