Let’s flip the European innovation model on its head

  • Posted on 10.04.2012

Let’s flip the European innovation model on its head


Merlin Rietschel

Manager Regulatory & Technical Affairs, Eucomed


Innovation is synonymous with progress. Embracing innovation means embracing the need to improve the sustainability and efficiency of healthcare systems by encouraging new business models, unlocking new market opportunities and improving health outcomes. Uptake of innovation in technology and services, however, could be quicker on the European healthcare scene, with myriad barriers currently standing in the way.

We really have to rethink our model of healthcare delivery and the processes allowing for the adoption of innovative solutions along the healthcare continuum. In these times of constrained budgets, increasingly fewer healthcare professionals and hugely rising demands for health services driven in large by our ageing demographics, it is clear that our approach to healthcare in Europe needs to be somewhat flipped on its head.  An innovation model beholden solely to payer cost concerns is one destined for stagnation – only by veering from traditional thinking and embracing a holistic, value-centric perspective, can we effectively confront the challenges we all face in steering European healthcare onto a sustainable path. With our five-year industry strategy “Contract for a Healthy Future”, Eucomed is leading the charge for a new innovation order, calling on healthcare stakeholders to rethink the roles they play.

An event organised by several services of the European Commission in Brussels on 16-17 April aims to serve as a catalyst for this new thinking. For the third year running, the Commission will bring together over 500 participants: EU Commissioners, international policy makers, national representatives, universities, venture capitalists, research institutions, patient associations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large companies, industry associations, researchers, and hospital managers. The “Innovation in Healthcare Without Bordersconference will provide a policy platform upon which to identify innovation challenges, build consensus and develop initiatives and opportunities for healthcare innovation in continuity with previous events.

To better respond to the need of various sectors, the conference programme has been developed in consultation with a number of experts, mainly representatives of the major European health associations and key stakeholders in healthcare innovation. At Eucomed, innovation is hard-coded into our DNA, and this is why, just as last year, we very much welcomed the opportunity to get actively involved in the development of the event’s agenda. In a keynote address on the first day our Vice-Chairman Roland Pfleger will elaborate on the European MedTech industry’s “Contract for a Healthy Future”, emphasising the need for multi-stakeholder engagement and value-based innovation.  He will be followed later in the programme by Eucomed Chief Executive Luciano Cattani who will co-moderate a session with Directorate General SANCO’s Jacqueline Minor.

Overall, the 2012 conference will develop two parallel tracks: Track A: “Removing borders on the innovation in healthcare landscape” and Track B: “Overcoming barriers to equality and solidarity”. These will assess achievements and remaining barriers and explore new challenges within the EU and beyond. It will provide the opportunity to contribute shaping the next steps forward, including the adoption of Horizon 2020 and beyond, with recommendations addressed to policy-makers and stakeholders.Previous editions have proven that a multi-stakeholder approach is crucial to reaching agreement and fostering innovation. Meeting the right people to help connect the dots is the best way to take action and build on the growing momentum for change. In 2010, the conference provided sound contributions to the Innovation Union Communication and the 2011 event was integral to the Commission proposal for Horizon 2020.

I look forward to solid takeaways this year as well and invite those interested to join in the discussions on 16-17 April.

– Merlin Rietschel, Manager Regulatory & Technical Affairs, Eucomed

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