As ABHI celebrates its 30th anniversary today, Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive of the association discusses the past, present and future.
1. In the 30-year history of ABHI, what have been the biggest changes?
Our industry has changed significantly over the last 30 years, from being simply product based, to delivering value-based service solutions and increasingly incorporating new fields of science, utilising digital data, AI and robotics. Our rebrand this year has reflected that: Association of British HealthTech Industries.
We have invested in the senior leadership team, who are all contemporary industry professionals and are experts in the field of procurement, reimbursement, market access, HTA, health policy and NHS relations. We have refreshed the leadership in our regulatory and technical area and continue to build our deep relations with the MHRA and the notified bodies. Our international business has developed widely, manning the UK pavilions at global exhibitions and developing a comprehensive programme of trade missions with a strong focus on the US, and providing a programme of accelerator hubs.
2. How does ABHI engage with policymakers and legislators?
The strength of ABHI’s network is one of our defining assets. We are focused at a senior level across several government departments, Parliamentarians in both Houses that are relevant to HealthTech, deep relationships with the NHS, regulators in both health and technical matters, and with the academic health science community.
We represent industry on a number of high-level government forums: the Life Sciences Council, the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Board, the EU Relationship Group, and the Health Technology Partnership. This year we formalised our relationship with a number of major cities’ health and academic communities, through a series of Memorandum of Understandings. This affords our members exceptional access to the NHS for collaboration on research, right through to adoption and spread.
3. What are the major areas of interest in terms of shaping policy?
Our current priorities are focused on ensuring procurement recognises the value and quality of technology, so there is not a race to the lowest cost. Secondly, implementation of the new Medical Device Regulation. Third, managing the complexities of Brexit, to ensure the best outcome for national and international companies operating in the UK.
4. How will Brexit affect the British medical technology industry?
We are focused on two critical areas: regulatory alignment and ensuring that products used in healthcare are exempt from any new customs, tariff or VAT arrangements, and afforded pre-shipping clearance and fast track access across any new areas. Given the ambiguity of Brexit, we are also working on scenarios where the UK does not remain aligned to the regulatory framework and European trading area, as we prepare for life outside of Europe.