As healthcare advocates, we know that dialogue between patients and the medical technology industry can deepen understanding between those who develop new healthcare solutions and those who use them.
That is why our organisations, the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and MedTech Europe, devised the Patient-Medtech Dialogue as a forum for regular interaction on topics of mutual interest in a transparent and open way.
Our experience to date has been positive: The Patient-MedTech Dialogue is an initiative that began in 2011 with the aim of providing a platform for the exchange of perspectives between the patient and medtech communities.
At our latest meetings, on 24 and 25 May, we co-hosted two half-day workshops, exploring two hot topics in healthcare: Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and community care in the context of improving access to medical technologies.
We were delighted about the high interest and engagement of the patient organisations and MedTech companies that joined. In addition to the exchange between patients and industry representatives, the dialogue also engages with experts and other stakeholders. For example, these recent sessions benefited from the contributions of a European Commission official and senior representatives of HTAi, and Health First Europe.
Health Technology Assessment
The first workshop on HTA provided us with an opportunity to exchange perspectives on the European Commission’s legislative proposal on health technology assessment and on common rules for clinical assessment of health technologies undergoing HTA.
There were also calls from various participants for greater transparency about how patient involvement in HTA processes translates into decision-making, and detailed discussion of the need for funding and training to ensure effective patient input.
Care in the community
The second workshop focused on community care – healthcare provided outside the hospital setting. We see technology helping to empower patients to manage their conditions and connect with specialists, potentially improving outcomes, patient satisfaction and delivering savings to the system. By enabling home/self-care, integrating health data systems, monitoring well-being, and facilitating management of chronic conditions, new solutions can put the patient at the centre.
For companies focused on providing value to the system, listening to what patients want from future technologies is essential. For patients, engaging with companies can help to ensure that the next generation of products and solutions are fit for purpose.
However, while the merits of community care have been discussed for some time, we sense considerable frustration at the slow pace of change. Shifting services to the community faces many challenges, including silo-budgeting and human resource issues.
Greater awareness among the public, policymakers and health stakeholders can catalyse reform. In particular, we see political will as a key element in shifting care to the community and ensuring the continuum of care.
An ongoing conversation
The workshops are the latest example of how health is changing: just as healthcare is a complex and multidisciplinary field, health policy dialogues must be truly multi-stakeholder and have clear rules of engagement.
Only by coming together – and listening – can we hope to build a sustainable, patient-centered health system that embraces technology innovation.
We look forward to the next occasion!