The MedTech Europe blog

Yesterday afternoon I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a round table discussion organised by Motorola as part of the EU Open Days conference organised by the Committee for the Regions. Entitled ‘ EU Wide Patient Safety – A Roundtable to demonstrate ways of overcoming barriers to adoption in healthcare using innovative application of mobile technologies’ the panel was drawn from academia, ICT suppliers, the EU Commission, health system managers and me. You might ask why Eucomed should have a seat at such a table?

As discussions evolved, it became progressively clearer that the knowledge and understanding of each other’s worlds was patchy at best. The use of modern ICT in health creates multiple opportunities and has a clear role alongside medical technologies to transform many aspects of the way patients are managed both inside and outside of conventional settings. While we as a sector are very focussed on the patient/clinician interaction and continuum of care, the ICT companies are coming at the opportunity from the perspective of system architecture. Both of us lose out by not fully appreciating the extent of both the opportunities and the challenges of driving change in healthcare (my blogpost of last week explored these in more detail).

What is clear is that, if the opportunities for providing better care at lower total cost are to be realised, there is a huge need stakeholders to get together. On the end of the line, especially in community care, is a patient and often carers who are family members. Much of the meaningful information about the patient that can be used to help manage their condition is derived from both diagnostic and therapeutic technologies which are either close to or, increasingly, embedded in the patient. Success or failure in developing the new ways of looking after the chronically sick in the community will be determined by our ability to put the various pieces of the jigsaw together in ways that are both attractive and intuitive to the ultimate focus of the system – the patient and carer. Creating the service offering that has the confidence of the patient needs to be complemented by a range of standards and regulatory developments that ensure quality and reliability of whatever is offered. To create the service offerings we really need to work together. It will lead to adaptations of previously sacred business models, the need for new relationships and partnerships and, most importantly, a better understanding of who the customer is. In healthcare that is always a complex story.

Ultimately, reconfiguring care allows us to move away from the wasteful practices of the nineteenth century where expensive doctors sit next to an expensive room full of patients who have spent many hours travelling to, in most cases, be told ‘you are OK and come back and see me in 6 months’. Tele-enabled care changes this paradigm to one where patients are called to see the expensive doctor only when needed and most of their needs are catered for by the community team that is able to monitor their condition via sensors that sit in and around their home and their person. The resources can then be better directed to addressing the real needs of the patient.

John Wilkinson

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