global health

As Germany goes to the polls, the VDGH, which represents in vitro diagnostics companies in Germany, has published a new policy paper on the future of healthcare. VDGH Managing Director Martin Walger tells Gary Finnegan why this is a crucial moment for health policy The paper was released just ahead of federal elections in Germany and seeks to highlight the value of laboratory diagnostics. Tackling major challenges such as access to laboratory innovations, pricing challenges and personalised medicines, the report also applies to other European markets. What practical steps can be taken to accelerate access to laboratory innovations? This is one of the most difficult tasks we have to tackle and there are no simple solutions. If assessment procedures take significantly longer than the IVD product lifecycle, industry will suffer. But do we persuade politicians and decision makers with that argument? We are asking for appropriate methods and decision procedures which are transparent. Are you concerned that prices do not match the quality/value of diagnostic products? Is the situation any worse for diagnostics than it is for devices, IT or medicines? The German market is faced with very low prices for most diagnostics services, and this is especially pronounced in clinical chemistry. A high market concentration among the medical laboratories makes this problem worse. In the long run, the innovation capabilities of our industry also depend on the level of remuneration. Can you give an example of how early diagnosis can improve outcomes for patients and deliver long-term value for the economy and society? As far as I can see, the benefits of early diagnosis to prevent colon cancer are the best documented. Germany will rearrange its early detection programme this year, introducing specific cancer screening tests called "iFOB-Tests" and regular invitations for statutory health insurance patients to participate. The...
International efforts to tackle the hepatitis pandemic have reached new heights, especially in the past year since the 69 th World Health Assembly (WHA) endorsed the Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on viral hepatitis 2016–2021 . It is estimated that some 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection alone, and a large portion of these people lack access to life-saving testing and treatment. As a result, millions are at risk of chronic liver disease, cancer and death. To this end, the GHSS calls for the elimination of all types of viral hepatitis (A, B, C, D & E) as a public health threat by 2030 ‒ reducing new infections by 90% and mortality by 65%. Indeed, mortality caused by viral hepatitis is on the rise, with 1.4 million deaths believed to be caused by the disease in 2015. The focus is on HBV and HCV, both blood-borne infections that are responsible for 96% of all hepatitis mortality. Medtech’s contribution On a positive note, a Global Hepatitis Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in April 2017 says that eliminating viral hepatitis is “technically feasible”. Medical technology will play a critical role. The report points out, for example, that key innovations include rapid serological tests to detect antibodies to HCV as well as point-of-care tests to diagnose HCV infection. Newer and cheaper point-of-care rapid tests, such as those for HBV and affordable ones for HCV, could accelerate the elimination of hepatitis. The WHO’s first-ever viral hepatitis testing guidelines recommend the use of rapid diagnostic tests for hard-to-reach populations and targeted testing in groups most affected by HBV and HCV, such as people who inject drugs, those with HIV and children of mothers with HBV or HCV infection. Simple and...
The 2017 Arab Health Exhibition & Congress and MEDLAB 2017 in Dubai were a celebration of healthcare innovation, with 4,400 of the world's leading healthcare companies from 70 countries attending the events. We, at Siemens Healthineers , were excited to showcase our pioneering spirit and engineering expertise, as well as the many diagnostic solutions we deliver across the globe to help healthcare professionals adapt to the changing healthcare environment. The MEDLAB exhibition featured products from laboratory, point-of-care and molecular diagnostics portfolios. We were especially honored to have our new solutions on display in a private viewing area in the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention’s exhibition space during the 2017 Arab Health Exhibition & Congress. We were pleased to present part of our new portfolio at these two major industry events. We were happy to see that in the context of growing importance of digitalization and automation across the healthcare industry, the high interest among UAE dignitaries and heads of state was not scarce. Photo Credits: Arab Health Facebook Page
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...