The ecosystem that was a key to the tremendous success of the OCT consisted of these seven major factors, each essential for the current success of the technology:
1. Unique physical properties of OCT, which enabled high performance and scalability;
2. Sustained government funding for fundamental and clinical research;
3. Academic competition and collaboration;
4. Innovation in related commercial fields such as fiber optics, software, and computers;
5. Addressing real clinical needs to improve patient care and simultaneously lower costs;
6. The role of entrepreneurism and venture capital investment; and
7. The ultimate clinical, economic, and scientific impact.
I agree with the authors’ assessment that the future of the OCT ecosystem to foster innovation and provide societal benefits looks as bright as ever. On the technology side, there are numerous frontiers with new imaging devices, system concepts, integrated optics, light sources, and multimodality that will power the technology far into the future. On the funding side, there is continuing funding from governments to explore new ideas as well as a substantial OCT industrial base of R&D funding. On the application side, OCT will continue to expand in the clinical and non-medical markets, including numerous yet untapped markets in both developed and developing economies. These markets will require continued risk taking, clever engineering, clinical validation studies, and regulatory and reimbursement approval on a specialty-by-specialty basis.
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