Fenin, the Spanish medtech federation, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Founded in 1977, the year of Spain’s first democratic elections, the organisation has worked with more than 20 health ministers and seen several landmark developments. These include the establishment of the tax-funded universal National Health System (SNS), growing responsibility for health policy at regional level, and advances in social security.
In the first part of a two-part interview, Margarita Alfonsel, General Secretary of Fenin, shares her reflections on four eventful decades.
Q: What are the most significant trends in medical technology that have occurred in Spain in the last 40 years?
The multiple technological advances that have developed in the health sector in recent decades have allowed medical care to change substantially. New technologies have been progressively incorporated into care services and they have provided professionals with better tools to prevent health problems, to make better diagnoses, to respond more efficiently and to coordinate patients.
Q. Which product areas have seen most growth?
Over the years, the contributions of the healthcare technology industry to improving the health and quality of the lives of patients have been numerous. Examples include insulin pumps or glucose monitoring systems in diabetic patients; implantable cardioverter-defibrillators in patients with ischemic heart disease; myoelectric prostheses or knees with microprocessors in patients with motor disabilities; new diagnostic techniques in cancer patients; deep electrical-brain stimulation techniques in patients with degenerative diseases; neuromuscular stimulation, or peritoneal dialysis in patients with renal insufficiency.
In recent years, the sectors that have experienced growth of more than 4% in Spain have been Dental, Cardiology, Home Care and Technology and Clinical Information Systems.
Q. How many companies / employees work in the health technology sector in Spain today?
Fenin brings together large, medium and small companies, national and international. Such companies offer products for use in hospitals and chemists. Some of these products are prosthetics, home care products, diagnostic equipment, imaging equipment, and therapy and hospital equipment of the most varied nature.
The health technology sector in Spain provides direct employment to more than 24,000 workers and integrates more than 1,000 manufacturing, importing, distributing and service provider companies that make more than 500,000 products available to the Spanish health system. The Spanish health technology market represents 6% of the European market.
At present, the Federation represents a key sector in the Spanish economy, since we generate wealth thanks to investment in innovation and the creation of thousands of highly qualified jobs. For all these reasons, the health technology industry plays a fundamental role as a strategic partner of the Spanish health system and is key to its advancement and modernization.
Q. What role has Fenin played in shaping Spanish healthcare?
Since 1977, Fenin has grown dramatically, positioning itself as an active player in the current Spanish National Health System. The 113 companies that signed the constitutional act of the Spanish Federation of Health Technology Companies aspired, from the beginning, to be a reference for the debate on the social and economic reforms that were to come. Shortly after its birth, Fenin began its first contact with the health administration and, throughout these four decades, has continued to strengthen and expand relationships with business organizations and state bodies.
In the second part of this two-part interview, Fenin considers the trends shaping the future of Spanish medtech.