The lights dim and the video starts. The visuals go from zero to 100 in under a second. Jumpy cinematography and a metallic colour palette underlined by an insistent score give the film a Mission Impossible flavour. You glimpse medical personnel and some frantic activity, and, all too soon, it is over. The lights come back on as Guy Lebeau—taller than Tom Cruise and every bit as charming—strides to centre stage.
“The patient is dying . . . we need to do something . . . we have a mission: to drive innovation.” And with that, Lebeau, Company Group Chairman, Medical Devices & Diagnostics EMEA, Johnson & Johnson, and Eucomed Chairman, starts day one of the Eucomed MedTech Forum 2011 in Brussels. Some pyrotechnics—maybe an explosion and a cloud of smoke from which Lebeau emerges—would not have been out of place. Something to think about for next year?
Let’s set that aside for now. I will cover various topics addressed at the event over the next few days, but here are some immediate highlights.
Future proofing healthcare: You could say that Europe’s healthcare systems are a victim of their own success. They have “helped to create some of the longest living populations in history, which enjoy enviable levels of general health,” notes a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). But they are ill-prepared for the many challenges they will face in the near future. Paul Kielstra, Contributing Editor for the EIU, presented some of the findings of Future Proofing Western Europe’s Healthcare to MedTech Forum attendees. The report looks at five specific initiatives in five EU member states and notes that, while the initiatives are quite different, they mutually reinforce each other. What are those initiatives? I will be writing about that in the days ahead; or you can go straight to the source and download the report or read it online at www.reforminghealthcare.eu.
Age is not the issue: An ageing population is not necessarily what is driving up healthcare costs, said Kielstra. “Look at Japan, which has a much larger elderly population than Europe. Yet its healthcare costs are barely above the average for OECD countries.” Looking at age alone is a red herring; it’s the year or two prior to death when an individual’s healthcare costs skyrocket, representing the biggest part of his or her lifetime health costs.
A sustainable path for healthcare: the medical technology industry recognises that the current business model is coming to the end of its life cycle, said Lebeau, as he presented Eucomed’s five-year strategy for industry, Contract for a Healthy Future. The report, which was officially introduced at the MedTech Forum, states that industry will commit to providing medical technology innovations that ensure sustainable, accessible healthcare and healthy ageing. “Then, we need to extend this contract to all of the stakeholders and sell it,” said Lebeau. The “contract” also can be accessed at www.reforminghealthcare.eu.
More to come tomorrow. Incidentally, I will be tweeting from the event. Follow me @emdt_editor.Norbert Sparrow