Medical technologies can keep people healthy and ensure greater efficiency

Medical technologies can keep people healthy and ensure greater efficiency, writes Serge Bernasconi.

Serge Bernasconi | Photo credit: MedTech Europe

By Serge Bernasconi

15 Jun 2017

Today's healthcare systems are not fit for the future. The model that delivered steady gains in life expectancy through the 20th century will not be able to serve the ageing population and the rise of chronic diseases we have today. It's time for a rethink. Let's start by looking at what we want from our health systems.

For me, healthcare should help us to live longer, healthier lives; allowing us to be socially and economically active and independent for as long as possible. Achieving these benefits for people will also avoid, wherever possible, the need for high-cost care and the cost of advanced disease.

Medical technologies are a central part of the solution to our shared problem. Representing around seven per cent of total healthcare spending, they can deliver better value for every euro spent on health.


From prevention to diagnosis and cure, technologies inform and enable care at every step of the pathway. Let me give you three ways in which medical technologies can enable the change we need. 

First, we need to focus on the value we deliver to patients. This means providing outcomes that matter to patients; interventions that improve their quality of life and make healthcare more convenient.

I'm talking about faster and more accurate diagnosis; more homecare solutions, supporting people in self-managing their chronic condition, including tele-monitoring services; less invasive surgical procedures; as well as technologies that can prevent deterioration and speed up recovery time.

Second, technology can drive efficiencies in the whole system. It is estimated that up to 30 per cent of health spending is wasted. By identifying the most successful treatment options through accurate diagnosis, or providing care at peoples' home, medical technology solutions can trigger smarter investment in health. 

The third big benefit of embracing the value of medical technologies is the wider socio-economic impact that flows from a healthy and active population. Think of the economic gains we enjoy when people are fi t for work and less reliant on social supports.

New methods incentivise such beneficial solutions. For example, procurement is an important area for medical technologies as 70 per cent to 80 per cent of medical technologies are purchased through tenders. 

The EU procurement directive, updated in 2014, provides a framework for combining price with quality elements. Progressive procurement bodies now aim to incentivise technologies and services that deliver high value for money from a holistic point of view.

We must also look to modernise payment schemes. The traditional 'fee-for-service' regime is not delivering optimal care in the most efficient way. Rather than activity-based funding, payment can be linked to outcomes and value. The medical technology industry is engaging in this debate and aims to play a constructive role.

As we get to MedTech Week, it's time for all of us to consider how to make healthcare more sustainable. I would be more than pleased to hear your view and enter a dialogue about how we all could contribute to positive change.


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