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Health planners’ focus could lead to double ups

Media Release
July 28 2008

Health planners’ short term focus could lead to operations doubling

Advanced medical technologies, such as hip and knee replacements, could help health providers manage costs and increase productivity but only if health planners become less short term focused, warns the Medical Technology Association of New Zealand MTANZ (formerly the Medical Industry Association of New Zealand) in its Annual Review published today.

MTANZ says that the current three year parliamentary term and one year financial budgets for District Health Boards lead to short term decisions around clinical resources.

“This approach may save costs in the short term but could lead to patients needing two operations instead of one longer term,” says MTANZ chief executive Faye Sumner.

She adds the combination of an aging population and aging healthcare workforce over the next twenty years will become problematic unless we start to engage in open discussions and gain long term agreement on how New Zealand will fund and provide for the future health needs of our country.
MTANZ represents manufacturers and importers who supply medical technology used in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and management of disease and disability.

The organisation also calls for a cost effective medical device regulatory approval process for New Zealand in the future “if we are to avoid being a Third World dumping ground for faulty medical devices.”

Sumner says that comparative effectiveness assessment (for medical technologies) should not be used to deny coverage, should be focused on clinical-effectiveness not cost-effectiveness, should be transparent and represent all stakeholders.

“For incrementally improved technologies where the medical benefits and cost effectiveness is largely known, the focus should be on bringing these improvements into use as quickly as possible. Safe medical devices with potential should be given the opportunity of aiding patients,” she comments.
Sumner also addresses the issue of an aging population and an aging health workforce. She points to recent comments made by one of the United States’ most influential healthcare economists, Prof Uwe Reinhardt Ph.D of Princeton University who says medical technology will play a key role in containing healthcare costs.

Reinhardt says medical innovations such as remote monitoring technologies for congestive heart failure and diabetes, implantable neurostimulators for conditions ranging from migraines to Alzheimer’s Disease, and hip and knee replacements that restore mobility, are examples of labour-saving technologies that will not only increase the efficiency and productivity of a shrinking pool of healthcare workers, but help the elderly remain active and productive as well.

Sumner says lives and money are saved through more accurate diagnoses, less invasive procedures and improved treatment options.


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