The role and development of medical devices within the European healthcare sector is essential as the innovation contributed by the devices enhances the safety, quality and effectiveness of healthcare within Europe.
The healthcare sector uses an increasingly wide range of medical devices in order to deliver healthcare services. This ranges from simple devices to deliver treatments through to more sophisticated accelerators and cutting-edge technology.
The medical devices sector provides innovative healthcare solutions regarding:
- Treatment; and
- Alleviation of disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the current healthcare system relies on the contribution of technologies. Medical devices equip healthcare providers with the tools to perform their functions as effectively and efficiently as possible, helping to save lives and make a diagnosis much quicker.
What challenges does the medical devices sector face?
According to the European Commission the medical devices sector faces several challenges at national, European and international level, which could have an effect on their innovation capacity and overall competitiveness. These include:
- Public Health Systems: Specifically, emerging needs, such as developing a shared understanding of healthcare goals, overcoming health inequalities, an ageing society and exploiting the potential of e-health technologies;
- Finding the balance between patient’s needs and financial sustainability: Ensuring that the sector can enhance better access for patients to devices whilst simultaneously ensuring that pricing and reimbursement policies are effective; and
- Competitiveness and innovation: Challenges related to research and development, emerging technologies and the green economy, as well as issues related to the European Union’s trade and regulatory cooperation globally.
Developing devices in Europe
The development of medical devices has accelerated in recent times because of expanding scientific and engineering knowledge. Devices in diagnosis and drug delivery are becoming more and more researched as new technological developments will allow patients to receive care with a personalised approach. Personalised medicine means that patients could respond better to treatments.
At the 6th Conference of Partners (COP) of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing (EIP-AHA), Vytenis Andriukaitis, commissioner for health and food safety said: “The world is moving into the digital era – and we need to grasp this opportunity to modernise and reform our health systems so that they can overcome the challenges of the 21st Century.”