How collaboration can transform the future of healthcare and manufacturing.
“What is incredible about Ireland’s medtech industry, is that the whole ecosystem works together and supports each other,” said Galway native Liam Kelly, who is President and CEO of Teleflex, a global manufacturer and supplier of medical technology products. “Even though the companies might be competitors on one level.”
Kelly was speaking as part of a discussion panel led by Chris Coburn, Chief Innovation Officer at Partners HealthCare System in Boston, to an audience at Enterprise Ireland’s Med in Ireland 2019 conference, Ireland’s largest medical technologies event.
Ireland’s unique collaborative ecosystem has given rise to one of the world’s most innovative, integrated and globalised medtech hubs. According to Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency, the country is home to development, manufacturing and service operations for 18 of the top 25 global medical device companies. University research, Government-supported R&D centres, and business collaboration are driving medtech innovation in Ireland.
“We introduced an R&D centre into our facility in Athlone where we had a number of technologies we were working on,” explains Kelly. “We needed some expertise within the clinical world and were able to engage with NUI Hospital Galway for this. That’s a huge advantage Ireland has, their medtech companies are able to work with both competitor companies and hospitals, which means businesses can move much faster with production and development.”
Collaborating to add value
Tanja Valentin, Director of Governor Affairs and Policy for MedTech Europe, said collaboration between various industries is on the rise. Also on the rise is collaboration between different healthcare players. “For example, buyer entities and hospital consortiums work together with the industry to define how the delivery of healthcare can be done differently and effectively.”
Stakeholders across the health ecosystem recognise the need to move away from historic payment models based on product utilisation, to value-based models that tie a product’s performance with emerging evidence of improved patient outcomes.
“We see outcome-based models being shaped together. MedTech Europe has developed innovative procurement mechanisms which identify value factors such as safety and effectiveness of products, not just the purchasing price. Healthcare delivery institutions see that holistic solutions and different value elements will deliver better outcomes.
“However, the next challenge is how to measure these outcomes, because you have to find ways to first define what you want to measure and then be able to act on what you’ve measured. This needs to be figured out together.”
“I’m very optimistic for the future of the medical device market,” says Kelly. “For the next 30 years, demand for medical devices will rise and it’s a wonderful time to bring new technologies to market. But companies need to have patient outcomes data documented in the clinical trial to be successful. Particularly when entering the US market, as hospitals in the States have Value Analysis Committees to evaluate new product purchases.”
Paudie O’Connor, Multi-Site Vice President of Manufacturing Operations at Boston Scientific, supporting Endoscopy and Urology Divisions, adds, “At Boston Scientific, we have done acquisitions and learned some hard lessons around data. Collecting data is essential for reimbursement, to show medical benefit and added value of a new technology.”
Major trends drive new healthcare opportunities
How can medtech companies support healthcare in the Middle East?
Dr Ibtesam Al Bastaki, Director of Investment and Partnership at Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said, “People in the Middle East, especially Dubai and UAE, want their services to be very fast. I think technology will take a central role in this. Dubai is not producing any equipment and there is not much technology manufacturing but Dubai has a lot of pharma plants. We want to encourage all accredited start-ups to help the healthcare system.”
Effectively managing large populations has become a key imperative in healthcare systems around the world, highlighted Chris Coburn, asking “What will that yield from your part of the industry in the next five or so years?” he asks.
Dr Al Bastaki said, “My concerns for the future, especially in terms of the population, would be that because Dubai as a nation is very young, aging will become a big issue. Therefore, we need to be prepared and act on how to reduce the cost to the Government. We need to improve the whole healthcare system in Dubai, by improving accessibility for the patients. Especially when they reach the age of 60 and above. There is a gap in Dubai in terms of rehabilitation in the long-term and elderly care, like homecare. I think medtech will play a huge part in this space.”
Liam Kelly said, “As medtech leaders, we need to be aware of how healthcare will be in the future with regards to access to information. Millennials don’t care that they went to Dr Jones all their life, they will do their research and go to a different doctor if they’ve discovered this doctor produced better outcomes. Information is so transparent now.”
Paudie O’Connor added, “Patients are becoming more educated about their conditions and making their own decisions now. So, medtech companies should engage with patients in their outreach efforts. That’s something we need to be very conscious of in the marketplace.”