Innovation in healthcare without borders: An invaluable contribution of diagnostics

For the third year in a row, the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association (EDMA) has been one of the strategic partners of the European Commission in organising the Innovation in Healthcare without Borders conference.

With more than 500 people in attendance, the conference not only explored the fundamental challenges key stakeholders face in the uptake of innovation, but also showcased ways of overcoming them. 

In particular, the session on “Bridging the Border Among Decision Makers” stressed the need for healthcare solutions to be maintained during economic pressure and identified concrete ways of eliminating barriers to innovation. Most importantly, the case for engaging patients for better health outcomes and supporting SMEs to reduce cost of healthcare was highlighted. By mode of example, Professor Anna Sapino, Head Service of Surgical Pathology, Molinette Hospital and Professor, Biomedical Sciences and Oncology, University of Turin, Italy emphasized that while at first the cost of the test may seem higher than more traditional methods, a more careful analysis shows multiple favourable outcomes such as reduction in hospitalisation, elimination of uncertainty and prevention of a second surgery. This entails enhanced quality of life for the patient as well as reduction in the overall costs to the healthcare institutions.

In opening the session on “Bridging Borders to Build Capacity Globally: Case Study Africa Countries,” Dr Knut Seifert, South Africa Country Manager and Senior Vice President International Public Health Organisations Roche Diagnostics Division, South Africa provocatively stated that innovative diagnostics are not the enemy but the hope of developing countries. In the discussion about how African and European partners could collaborate to make diagnostic tools readily available, Dr Joseph L. Mathew, Chair of HTAi Interest Sub-Group on Health Technology Assessment in Developing Countries, India emphasised the importance of accuracy, availability, affordability, applicability and acceptability. In other words, Dr Mathew explained that even if a new test is accurate, available, affordable and easily applicable, its acceptability within the society-at-large is vital to its uptake and success. Furthermore, other speakers highlighted the importance for developing countries to be involved in all three phases of development: the upstream phase (pre-development) will help properly identify needs, know-how and existing infrastructures, the pilot phase will ensure the accuracy of the treatment and finally, the downstream phase (post-development) will enable feedback on the basis of the local settings. In continuing the discussion, Philippe Jacon, CEO of FIND Diagnostics, Switzerland acknowledged that, “The essential role of the diagnostics industry lies in bringing production and distribution closer to end users, to ensure regulatory oversight and looking beyond the “one-size-fits-all” model for poverty-related and neglected diseases.” All panellists agreed that more should be done to ensure that innovation does not stop at product development, but to also look at uptake through healthcare systems; because if innovation does not reach the patient, it is not innovation at all.

In commenting at the end of the conference, EDMA President, Dr Jürgen Schulze, President of EDMA and CEO and President of Sysmex, EMEA said, “Not only did this captivating conference bring the challenges in healthcare initiatives to the forefront, but it also provided an excellent opportunity to discuss concrete solutions. As representative of the diagnostics industry, I strongly believe that, together with other healthcare stakeholders and above all in close cooperation with the patients, we have much to contribute to improving global health outcomes.”

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