Mar 1, 2016

Redefining the value proposition in Medical Technology

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Redefining the value proposition in Medical Technology

Medical Technology is a major expense. With economic pressures facing our healthcare system, there is an imperative for the industry to clearly demonstrate on all aspects of the 'value' that such investment provides.

However, how does one begin to define value when it appears so intangible and varies from the perspective of so many stakeholders?

Making purchasing decisions based on what a consultant recommends may be the safe option; but is the innovative feature that appeals to the clinician always the right criteria by which to assess a piece of technology, when compared in the context of the needs of the wider regional health economy?

At a time when health trusts are under increasing pressure to meet Government waiting times (A&E departments recently recorded their poorest performance against the four hour waiting targets), perhaps the speed of making a diagnosis, subsequent treatment and satisfactory discharge of patients at a reasonable cost is the true 'value'. Accounting for broader needs of the local service might start to appear more of an imperative than specific technical features.

The need for flexibility and innovation are hard hitting messages that we are all hearing from NHS leaders, including NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens; however, is this really being mirrored in regional procurement protocols?

Many inherent buying protocols are still features led. "What is the most impressive piece of equipment for the most competitive price?". But does this always make logical economic sense? And is the procurement process even asking the right questions? [Why not participate on our short survey on this issue?]

Take for example the procurement of MRI machines; expensive to buy, large and costly to run and cumbersome to install. Often significantly over specified machines are operated to scan simple and high frequency musculoskeletal pathologies such as broken ankles. Possibly not the best relative use of that particular technology, when one considers smaller, faster, more efficient versions are available at a fraction of the cost.

Lower specified and smaller pieces of equipment may not be the consultant's natural first choice even if such kit makes the most economic sense.

The more innovative procurement teams are of course beginning to align their criteria to more value based decision making but by no means all. However, medical technology can be a divisive industry where individual opinions account for much, so having the ability to challenge the status quo by reframing the argument will be a key marketing advantage.

Inevitably those marketing the technology will have to find and define the value for each stakeholder, focusing on the 'benefits' and not the 'features'.

Click here to give your opinions (in a short 3 question survey) on the issues raised in this blog...a summary of everyone's feedback will be available to those who participate.