business models

The MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice entered into force on the 1 st January 2017, with the phase-out of direct sponsorship that needs to be implemented in less than a year from now. The Code has been the topic of many conversations . However, until recently, we did not have the opinion of individual Healthcare Professionals. Our conversations happened in particular with the organisations representing them. In January, we formally interviewed a sample of Healthcare Professionals coming from different countries. This blog is about sharing the key findings of these interviews. As a background note, most aspects regulated by the Code were already covered by these previous Codes, but there is one fundamental change brought by the new Code that affects Healthcare Professionals. We are of course talking about the change in the model of support to Healthcare Professionals attending Third Party Organised Educational Conferences. The new model requires that a company provides an Educational Grant to a Healthcare Organisation (e.g. medical society, hospital), the latter selecting the Healthcare Professional(s) attending the conference. The Grant covers the costs such as travel, accommodation, and conference registration. The direct selection and support by companies of Healthcare Professionals to attend a given Conference or Congress will not be allowed anymore at the end of this year. The focus of the interviews was about this change. During our discussions with Healthcare Professionals regarding this new model of Educational Grants, one thing became clear; the majority of interviewed Healthcare Professionals were not at all against the change. In fact, a majority welcomed the changes as, according to them, it would bring more legitimacy and transparency. Some Healthcare Professionals also advocated that an independent selection by hospitals was much better than industry selecting HCPs. In their view, hospitals know better who needs training and...
Sensors, artificial intelligence and big data are not only changing healthcare, they are transforming the workplace and may even reinvent the insurance sector. Stress takes its toll on all of us. It affects our mental health and is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. It also costs employers tens of thousands of euro per year while the healthcare costs for governments and private insurers run into the billions. My start-up company, BioBeats, began with a mission to reduce people’s stress. We use biometric sensor technologies to understand stress and offer proven interventions that can reduce its impact. Wearables and smartphones can collect a wealth of data which are fed into artificial intelligence algorithms to anticipate moments of stress and deliver targeting interventions. By collecting biometric data for a couple of weeks, we can predict how you’ll sleep tonight or how you will perform at work next week. Opportunities in occupational health At first, we developed this product for the general public. The app, Hear and Now , is in the app store and teaches powerful deep-breathing exercises. These interventions are based on evidence-based techniques backed up by robust science. It soon became clear to us that the market for a tool like this is much bigger than stressed-out individuals keen on avoiding burnout. Employers have much to gain by understanding and reducing the burden of stress. Not only do companies want to curb avoidable absenteeism, they face a daily battle with presenteeism – people who turn up for work but are unproductive due to stress and worry. So, we built a dashboard for employers. The system collects information on employees which individuals can use to better understand when stress occurs and what causes it. They can then learn valuable stress-control techniques that improve their health. But for...
The argument has raged for some time and shows no sign of abating any time soon: screening for diseases, yes or no? Take the case of prostate cancer screening: Richard Ablin - the author of “The Great Prostate Hoax”, and the man who claims to be the first to have identified PSA (a protein created by the walnut-sized prostate gland that can easily be measured) - maintains that PSA testing can do, and often does, more harm than good. Ablin, of the University of Arizona, has noted that a man’s PSA levels may be high but that doesn’t mean that he has cancer. On the reverse side of the coin, a low PSA level doesn’t necessary mean that a potential patient’s worries are over in this regard.Yet the fact remains that around one-in-three men aged from 40-60 has traces of prostate cancer, and the risk rises with ageing. So all men should be regularly tested, right? Well, not necessarily… Ablin and others argue that over-testing can very easily lead to over-treatment, including unnecessary invasive surgery to remove the prostate gland. The over-treatment argument has also been used in respect of breast cancer screening, although the figures tend to show that it works very well in a preventative sense and even better in detecting early breast cancer in target age groups. Yet over-treatment is clearly an issue, with many women (plus those aforementioned men with early ‘signs’ of prostate cancer) simply wanting all traces of the disease, or potential disease, removed right away, regardless of the potential cost to them personally or, indeed, fiscally to society in general. So over-treatment is clearly something that cannot be side-stepped. The counter-arguments - and they are very strong ones - is that our ‘social contract’ has obligations to ensure the highest standards possible regarding...
I wonder, have you ever had a conversation with your doctor or nurse about barcodes? Not likely, I guess! Whilst the humble barcode is so ingrained in everyday life (after all, we all scan barcodes at the checkout), its potential in healthcare is both enormous, but unfortunately largely unknown. The reality is that for patients and caregivers, the beep of a scanned barcode has the possibility to help ensure that a patient receives the right medical product at the right time and that caregivers have the benefit of additional surety in their processes. Scanning barcodes can help to minimise errors due to incorrect identification of product or patient and ensure the correct product is in the hospital when the patient needs it. The global, voluntary user community, GS1 Healthcare - which brings together all healthcare supply chain stakeholders, including manufacturers, distributors, healthcare providers, solution providers, regulatory bodies and industry associations - recently produced a video to illustrate the value global standard barcodes add in hospital processes. For every one of us, this is a must-watch - after all, at one point in our lives, we will all be patients. For staff of healthcare product supplier organisations this is even more important. After all, suppliers are applying GS1 barcodes to meet a range of regulatory and trading partner requirements. In turn, these barcodes should be used by all healthcare stakeholders, most importantly, the healthcare provider organisations and staff that are issuing these suppliers’ products to patients. Please take two minutes of your time, open your minds and remember that the use of global standard barcodes in healthcare empowers all of us - patients, healthcare provider staff and healthcare provider organisations. A simple scan can contribute to doctors and nurses being able to focus even more on caring for every one of...
Shouldn’t we be rewarded for healthy behaviour rather than repeatedly punished for being ‘bad’? Fat tax and sugar tax, duty on cigarettes and vodka – everyone can think of a ‘sin tax’ they pay from time to time. These are the penalties we pay for making unhealthy choices. The idea of sin taxes has been gaining ground in recent years. The success of price rises on cigarettes and alcohol in curbing consumption is leading governments to consider what other disease-causing products could be taxed out of existence . In Europe, Denmark were the early movers: they introduced a tax on fatty foods in 2011. It applied to meat, dairy products, oils and certain other foods which contained more than 2.3% of saturated fat. The tax ‘worked’ in that it raised revenue and cut consumption of fatty foods by 4% . However, the policy didn’t last long. It was scrapped within 18 months because the government said the tax was too difficult and expensive to collect. Japan is taking a different route . Instead of hitting shoppers in the pocket to reduce the size of their gut, authorities impose fines on employers and local governments who fail to keep waistlines in check. Other countries, including the UK and Ireland have targeted sugary drinks by proposing a ‘soda tax’ to nudge consumers into making healthier choices. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver – a campaigner for healthy eating – hailed the move as a victory for children’s health. He was so happy about the new tax that he did a little dance at the end of a TV interview which was captured by BBC! There’s no doubt that taxes can be used to push people into making ‘better’ choices. But what ever happened to incentives for positive change? GPs in the UK get bonuses...
We built the War on Cancer website to give patients and their families a storytelling platform. Now it’s time to add new features and bring the medtech industry and healthcare sector into the community In January 2015, I was living in London with my best friend Fabian Bolin . Fabian was preparing to move to LA to pursue his acting career when he began to feel ill. His leukaemia diagnosis came as a total shock and changed our lives forever. Fabian started blogging about his experience as a cancer patient and gained quite a following. I was helping with some of the administrative and practical issues he faced, and supporting him along his journey. One day, when his story began to make headlines and his inbox was full of encouraging messages of support from total strangers, we started to talk about how this could become something even bigger. That’s when we started War on Cancer . At first, we had a simple idea: we wanted to enable people to share their stories and to experience the love that had helped Fabian during a difficult time. But as the project evolved, we saw an opportunity to do more. The storytelling platform is the cornerstone of the community – it helps people through their recovery process and provides others with insights into the reality of undergoing cancer treatment. Our vision is for a more inclusive community where we invite patients and their loved ones, but also medtech companies and the healthcare industry – everyone who has a part to play in eradicating cancer. The potential is considerable. Not only do we want patients to interact with one another, we envision a community where companies, health professionals and others can also create a profile and engage. Through these channels, companies could create seminars,...