Renaat Vermeulen

Renaat Vermeulen is a 29-year veteran of the Orthopaedic Industry. Before retiring from Zimmer Biomet in June 2015, he was President EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) of Biomet Inc, a global leader in production and distribution of products to treat musculoskeletal diseases. He currently chairs the Orthopaedic Sector Group of Eucomed, is active as a consultant to Zimmer Biomet and is an associated partner to Motion5, a Dutch Change Management company.

Representatives of Health Authorities and Payers seem to have mixed feelings about orthopaedic implants. They all know someone in their immediate environment who has had a new knee or a new hip and who is very satisfied with it. They also know that these people have regained their quality of life after a long period of pain and reduced mobility. Yet, when they look at their budgets, they get cold sweat. There are indeed good reasons to be worried. A simple look at demographic predictions reveals that 21% of the EU population will be over 65 in just 5 years from now - a 4% jump from 2010. Predictions for 2060 are even more worrying, with 1 out of 3 citizens over 65. All over Europe, budgetary measures have been taken to try to make our generous social systems sustainable and orthopaedic implants have not been overlooked. Unfortunately for manufacturers, but most importantly for patients, implants do appear very prominently on the bill, making them an easy target when it comes to budget cuts. After all, it is much easier for any authority to ask for a discount than to implement complex in-house structural reforms. In addition, in some countries, such as Germany, public opinion has been given the impression that use of implants is too high, only because the number of hip and knee implants is one of the highest in Europe. But before answering the question of overuse in Germany or underuse in other countries, one should answer the question of when the appropriate time for surgery in the care pathways is, and what is the economic impact of implementing this. We need solid scientific background to demonstrate that timely surgery is beneficial for both patients and health systems -in Germany and elsewhere-, and not a waste of...