Originally Published MDDI January 2006
With an aging population needing more medical care, patients and payers are seeking value for their dollar. Medical technology, however, is part of the solution—not the problem, said Arthur D. Collins Jr., chairman and CEO of Medtronic. Collins made his comments at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation's Medical Innovation Summit in October. Consumer access will change the paradigm from time-to-market to time-to-standard-of-care, he said. “The point at which patients obtain access will become more important.”
“The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, and the rate of technology is increasing,” said Collins. “There is a convergence of technologies as well, with significant increase in the amount of information technology being built into medical products.” Collins also notes that breakthroughs in biologics are being felt in the device industry. “The use of chemical compounds combined with medical devices will continue to expand,” he said.
Collins notes, however, that challenges also lie ahead. “Orthopedics is fueling a raging debate in Congress right now,” he said, referring to congressional debate over specialty hospitals that focus on a particular treatment area such as cardiology or orthopedics. According to “The Specialty Hospital Debate: Beyond the Medicare Moratorium,” the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended that the moratorium (which expired in June 2005) be extended for an additional 18 months. The commission also presented reforms to make the hospital reimbursement system fairer.
Another challenge, Collins noted, is a more-cautious FDA in the future. With the departure of Mark McClellan, FDA has experienced a dearth of leadership. Collins said the agency is only going to become more conservative.
“There has never been a time when opportunities were greater than now to use technology to improve medical outcomes and to improve the cost-effectiveness and delivery of care,” he said. “Delivery of care is now based on episodic events rather than on the life of the therapy—that's not going to change soon.”
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