Medical technology and the new European institutions

  • Posted on 15.07.2019

Medical technology and the new European institutions


Eric Thépaut

Senior Vice President and President, EMEA - Boston Scientific


Medical technology needs to communicate better about its value. Some people think it is the same as pharmaceutical healthcare. It is not. Medical technology has a different innovation approach, timeline and model.

The European Union needs to communicate better about its value. Some people think it is the same as the national entities that make it up. It is not. The EU is different in scale, timeline and way of working.

This may be a strange comparison to make. I do so because we have one major point of commonality. In the next 10 years, we must both recast our relationship with society and the narratives around our respective institutions / industry (although the European Union, being responsible for more, has a much wider task).

Both of us are contending with finding a new place in the world. For Europe this means working out how the EU stays competitive vis-à-vis other superpowers. For medical technology this means understanding how digitisation will change the systems of health, wellbeing and market access.

With the above in mind, I would like to submit a few thoughts on the recent EU elections: 

·         The new Commission: The Commission needs to get vocal. This institution keeps Europe open for business. But few, outside experts, understand or connect with it. First, we need a leader who represents the Commission vocally and connects with the wider public. Second, there needs to be an ambitious agenda that captures society’s imagination. There are few more important concepts to European citizens’ than health. An ambitious health and wellness agenda would be a meaningful place to start if the Commission wanted to recast how people see it.

·         The new Parliament: People across Europe feel disconnected. This is expressing itself in a variety of ways. The new European Parliament must never lose sight of why they are there – to be the voice of the people. In the last few years major geopolitical events have captured too much attention. Important as these are, as politics went from Crimea to Brexit, it felt like the voice of citizens got a little lost. The leadership in this new Parliament must ensure citizen interest is its guiding light. Every single day.

What can medical technology organisations learn from this?

·         Communicate with passion: We have great leaders in the medical technology space. But because of the delicate nature of what we do, we often let legal caution overtake our desire to communicate with passion. To have society see us how we see ourselves, we must be simple in our communication. We must become more relatable. We must find ways to let our passion out. We need to create a new and stronger link with the wider community. If we can articulate ourselves in a way that people understand the positive impact that our industry has on patients and families, the future will be bright.

·         People at the centre: Like the Parliament we too have an objective – to put patients and people at the centre of what we do and deliver a better health future for them. It is the responsibility of leaders and industry as a whole to find ways to remind every one of this important aim. Every single day.

Of course, there are vast differences between the medical technology industry and the European institutions. But in this challenge, we could not be more similar. My belief is that in both cases we will always be stronger together. Europe by deepening corporation. Medical technology by deepening its relationship with society and between the organisations that make it up. It is time for both Europe and the medical technology industry to turn our attention to connection, and reset the stories told about us.

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