A “healthy” agenda for the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos

  • Posted on 21.01.2014

A “healthy” agenda for the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos


Serge Bernasconi

Chief Executive Officer, MedTech Europe


Health will be one of the main topics at this year’s World Economic Forum. It is encouraging to see that the world leaders are recognising that health is a prerequisite for well-being and economic growth. And as a large contributor to health, our industry can play an important role in ensuring that people live longer active lives and contribute to this economic growth.

One look at the rough outline of the different sessions and there are at least seven sessions that are of particular interest.

Delivering value

Not immediately related to our industry, but crucial from a strategic point of view is the session on How can business regain trust through long-term value creation. This is exactly what we have been committing to in our Industry Strategy: making sure that we bring value-based innovation to market. How are we doing this? By developing products which not only bring clincical value to patients, but also economic and societal value to healthcare systems.

This is perfectly in line with another session which will look at The New Healthcare Context: What societal, economic and technological forces are reshaping the healthcare industry? I have blogged several times on this topic and in essence, the situation is quite simple: People are getting ever older, want to remain active for longer and demand more from their healthcare… and that is a good thing. These are the demographic factors. At the same time, we are going through tough economic times which also have a huge impact on the healthcare industry. But, narrowing it down now to medical technologies, we are developing the tools and treatments that can actually reshape healthcare. And we have the data to back up this claim.

Time for some real-world class

Take for instance the case of out-patient cataract surgery, where research shows that this type of therapy led to a 65% reduction in total cost of the treatment. Or look at how point-of-care HBA1c testing in diabetic patients can bring clinical, economic and societal benefits. Point-Of-Care tests (POC) enable patients to become more actively involved in the management of their condition, reduce the need for follow-up appointments, and can reduce the number of complications associated with poor glycaemic control.

A last example is a case which looks at remote monitoring systems for cardiac implants. Patients implanted with a cardiac implanted electronic device (CIED) require life-long follow-up and this puts pressure on both the patient and the healthcare systems. Thanks to innovation in this area, CIEDS are now capable of both remote follow-up and remote monitoring. As such, these technologies reduce the burden of in-hospital device checks and follow-up visits.

So this New Healthcare Context session promises to be a very interesting one. Moreover, special attention will go towards the question of  how to facilitate the uptake of personalised medicine and its potential in the fight against cancer.

No innovation without appropriate regulation

A third session will look at Regulating Innovation: How should regulatory and policy frameworks be designed to foster science and technology-driven growth? This question could not come at a more appropriate time for us in Europe. With the revision of the In Vitro Diagnstocs Directives (IVDD) and the Medical Devices Directives (MDD) well under way – both proposals are now being debated on in the EU Council – it is clear that appropriate regulation is essential to ensure patient safety while fostering innovation. Only then will patients continue to enjoy access to safe, life-saving technologies.

I am really excited about this year’s World Economic Forum. Medical technologies are so interwoven with every aspect of health, well-being and healthcare sustainability that it is great to see that health is featured so prominently on the programme. Because when you look at things up close, our industry is heavily invested in the topics, issues and questions that will be dealt with in the next four days. We bring clinical benefits, and value to Europe’s economies and societies. But don’t take my word for it. For concrete examples, have a look this infographic and this interactive animation. Or wait for our case studies which will be published shortly. I think we can safely say that “yes”, we are developing value-based innovations, “yes” health is a prerequisite for growth, and “yes”, medical technologies play an essential part in keeping healthcare systems sustainable. I know it, you know it, now let’s make sure that Davos also understands how medical technologies can contribute to a healthy population and in turn economic prosperity. Count on us to keep spreading the word.

– Serge Bernasconi, Chief Executive Officer MedTech Europe, EDMA & Eucomed


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