||Barbara Kram, editor of DOTmed News recently conducted an online interview with Joachim Schaefer, the Managing Director of our corporate headquarters in Germany. Messe Duesseldorf is organizer of the renowned MEDICA and COMPAMED trade fairs, held annually in Duesseldorf, Germany, as well as other leading medical trade shows around the world.
|Mr. Joachim Schaefer
Messe Duesseldorf GmbH
Below is a transcript of the interview.
DM: Describe your global health care forums. Who are participants? Where are the global hot spots of interest?
JS: Our medical trade fairs target medical users such as doctors and health care professionals, as well as decision-makers from the clinical management sector, medical specialty retail and decision-makers from the medical engineering field. Next to traditional markets with high demand in North America and Europe, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations, as well as specific markets in the Near East, are characterized by growth. Here the demographic development creates an increase in prosperity and an escalated interest in health and well being, which in turn generates more demand for medical services.
DM: Have recent economic woes in Europe impacted your work or have you seen an impact in the medical technology sector?
JS: Compared to the development in other industries, the medical industry has remained largely unscathed by any dramatic declines in demand. In several markets, for example in Germany and France, the medical industry is even benefiting from economic stimulus packages designed to support the economy. Regardless of the financial and economic crisis, the basic conditions of health policy are much more decisive for the medical sector. In this regard we can ascertain that cost-cutting measures are being implemented in almost all industrial nations in order to ensure continued financing of medical care. While this does affect the demand for medical technical products, the demand volume remains consistently high. At the same time, manufacturers are continually increasing the efficiency of medical treatments and improving the therapy success rate with their innovations. This in turn stimulates demand.
DM: From your global perspective working with suppliers and OEMs in the medical technology sector, what megatrends would you say most significantly affect these markets?
JS: Due to the increasing cost pressure in the health care field, it is more important than ever to ensure that the treatment process is as efficient as possible. This is why digitization is advancing at such a fast pace in both the outpatient and inpatient sectors. Systems are in demand that optimally connect the individual departments and doctors to ensure that the patient workflow is not interrupted by paucity of information. Accelerating precise diagnoses is of course also a major priority. The current trend is toward rapid tests that are executed directly on the patient, as well as compact devices for imaging processes. Both deliver critical images and data to aid in determining further treatment. Telemedical services should also be mentioned here. Although they currently represent a niche market, they will undoubtedly be gaining importance in the near future, for example within the framework of remote care of chronically ill or elderly patients.
DM: What are some of the regional differences in delivery of health care?
JS: There are no basic differences between cultures in regard to technology trends. The approval process, however, can vary greatly. The same applies to the financing of, or the access to innovations. In many markets, innovative methods are reserved for the private health care sector. In the end, good medical treatment for broad sections of the population is dependent on whether and to what extent the government participates in the development of the treatment, whether through tax money or the creation of government-controlled insurance systems. In many countries, including for example the USA, such discussions are currently being held and new health care concepts developed.
DM: Which medical technologies attract the most attention at your shows?
JS: The medical trade fairs organized by the Messe Duesseldorf Group cover the entire treatment process, from laboratory technology and diagnostics to innovative medical technology, physical therapy and orthopedic technology to medical IT. Visitor interest is equally high in all of these main areas.
DM: Is medical tourism, in which patients leave their home countries to seek care in another, a growing or significant trend? Which nations stand to gain or lose in this area?
JS: This is a topic with many facets. Basically, growing globalization and the increase in prosperity, along with the rise in health consciousness, is creating enormous growth potential even in the emerging markets. The winners here will be those who can offer excellent professional knowledge combined with an extraordinary infrastructure. Due to the high density of care and in some cases highly specialized facilities, the European market -- particularly Germany -- as well as of course the USA, are in an excellent starting position. But keep in mind that other nations in growth markets are also preparing for this lucrative competition. Factors such as marketing, quality management and outstanding patient care will become increasingly important alongside purely medical aspects, as will uncomplicated dealings with public authorities.