European MedTech Forum

European MedTech Forum

Jürgen Schulze: Our current health provision is not sustainable


Jürgen Schulze, Vice-Chairman of MedTech Europe, believes we have to face up to some harsh realities and get the conversations going – now

MedTech Europe

MTE: The World Economic Forum has said that ‘There has never been a time of greater promise, or one of greater potential peril. Today’s decision-makers, however, are too often trapped in traditional, linear thinking, or too absorbed by the multiple crises demanding their attention, to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.’ In light of this what can we actually achieve?

JS: I sincerely believe that we can make healthcare systems more sustainable and address challenges like rising healthcare costs, home care needs, the ageing population, and higher expectations for health services amongst European citizens. To achieve this, we need to move from the silo mentality we currently have in healthcare systems to outcomes-orientated systems. The medtech industry must be a key actor in creating this shift together with key stakeholders including patients, clinicians, payers and politicians.

So what’s holding us back?

The resistance of current national healthcare systems. We need high level and open-minded dialogues between key stakeholders at national levels and medtech industry representatives. The medtech industry, for its part, must be creative when it comes to changing existing business models.

How do we embrace the opportunities?

The medical device and in-vitro diagnostic industries have moved to one common industry association – MedTech Europe, representing medical technologies throughout the entire healthcare continuum. We are ready to talk about ‘outcome’ in a broader sense now. And we have started the dialogues already.

Who should drive future change?

It must be a common approach between key stakeholders: patients, clinicians, payers and policy makers. Industry may need to play a central role here.

‘The 4th Industrial revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres’. What further disruption do you envisage?

Jürgen Schulze

Jürgen Schulze

Social health care systems are currently managed using an ‘expense and cost’ approach, with a silo mentality. The next disruption we envisage is the creation of healthcare systems where investment decisions are based on outcomes, also taking into considerations the impact on the quality of life of patients. Big data will provide transparency about the medical and economic outcomes of new treatments. The medtech industry will have to take a lead in this disruption.

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How can we facilitate this?

The medtech industry and healthcare providers should cooperate closely to develop the appropriate IT infrastructure to monitor the medical and economic outcomes of new treatments, products and services, as well as carry out big data analysis. Payers and policy makers also need to support this new level of cooperation.

The 4th Industrial revolution is ‘changing our health and leading to a “quantified” self, and sooner than we think it may lead to human augmentation. The list is endless because it is bound only by our imagination.’ How can we think differently in terms of health provision?

I have asked young people about this, and I’m learning that our current health provision is not sustainable. From the many conversations I’ve had with clinicians, policy makers and payers, everyone expects major changes. The issue is that no one has a clear and overarching roadmap to propose yet. As I mentioned before, the industry is well positioned to kick-start all of these important conversations. On our way we will need to align with other key stakeholders and paint the bigger picture, all together.

Finally, what do you think history will make of this era?

This industrial revolution puts European citizens and patients at the centre of all healthcare activities. I hope this era will be remembered as a time when we were able to improve people’s quality of life, while making healthcare systems truly sustainable.

About the author

With well over 100 years experience between us, we've been around the editorial and medical blocks a few times. But we're still as keen as any young pup to root out what's new and inspiring.

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