The sweltering heat and fever pitch of the football supporters contrasts starkly with the measured debate at the 2009 International Medical Device Industry Compliance, Regulatory and Intellectual Property Conference here in Rome. The Champions League final sees football shirted supporters rubbing shoulders with suited captains of industry in an unlikely melange.
One item of news from across the Atlantic was not on the agenda but generated a good deal of discussion. This was the latest release of data looking at contributors to increases in US healthcare costs. It shows very clearly that, in contrast to popular belief amongst many government officials and policy makers, the price and cost of medical technology is not the driver of healthcare expenses that it is portrayed to be. The reality in the USA is that the proportion of total spending consumed by medical technologies has not grown significantly for many years and the unit prices of devices are not inflating at a rate which compares with other indices of cost growth.
I am convinced that the same dynamics are operating in Europe and Eucomed needs to bring evidence to the table so that a proper deabte can be had on the value of medical technology. Spending on medical technology as a proportion of total healthcare cost has remained relatively flat in the USA during a period where hospital stay times have dropped substantially (as they have in Europe). These hospital stay-times could not have been reduced without modern technology and the cost savings delivered are rarely linked to these technology contributions. Without the medical technology industry the cost of delivering healthcare today would be substantially higher than it is. The challenge for us is to prove it and demonstrate the error in conventional thinking. Given the opportunity the medical technology industry can provide more support to strained healthcare systems where the real drivers of cost inflation are demographically driven and the consequence of – reasonably – increased expectations by citizens for higher quality of life. For me, I’m almost 55 and just off for a run. Hopefully the cardiovascular benefits will outweigh the wear and tear on my joints. Like many others I won’t want to stop just because of a few fixable mechanical problems.
– John Wilkinson, Chief Executive Eucomed