The European industry association collective known as MedTech Europe, has been talking about new research from the European Health Technology Institute (EHTI) confirming that there is no uniform relationship between medtech innovation and an increase in healthcare expenditure. It seems its much more complicated than that, healthcare costs being multifactorial to the extent that new technology can do all of the following: save money, make no difference, or even cost more.
Progress in medical technology is often seen as a key driver of rising healthcare expenditure. The findings of research by the European Health Technology Institute (EHTI), however, stipulate that viewing the relationship between rising cost and medtech as static and straightforward is not productive and a more balanced view is needed.
These findings take the form of a broad literature review of 86 publications including both qualitative and quantitative research. The research concludes that the relationship between rising healthcare expenditure and medical technology progress depends on many factors including the availability of alternative interventions, characteristics of the patient population, the treatment setting or whether the therapy is for a previously untreatable condition.
It seems the terminology doesn’t help much either, ‘medical technology’ often being used in studies to cover a wide range of interventions, including novel drugs in areas such as cancer, many of which greatly add to costs. Isolating medical technology and not including pharmaceuticals, the healthcare budget invested has remained stable over the last decade.
Concluding on a positive note, for industry at least, the piece closes by observing that an ageing population, increased incidence of chronic diseases and greater patient demand are all likely to impact healthcare expenditure.
In that context it suggests medical technology should not solely be viewed as a cost driver, but rather as a partner in Europe’s health and economy.
“A technology that increases costs in one setting or in one group of patients can be cost-neutral and even cost-saving under differing circumstances;” lead researcher Dr. Corinna Sorenson said on the EHTI research findings. “Moreover, even if a given technology increases costs, it may increase benefits by an even greater amount and therefore be considered a worthwhile investment. A sound and comparative evaluation of technologies is needed to optimise investments in healthcare.”
“Our 5-year industry strategy, endorsed by our entire membership, confirms the medtech industry’s commitment to value-based innovation as a way to steer Europe’s healthcare systems onto a sustainable path while ensuring improved patient outcomes. To achieve this, Europe needs smart investment in health which also considers patient and broader socioeconomic benefits,” said Serge Bernasconi, MedTech Europe’s Chief Executive Officer.