Product development in the medtech space is always ongoing, with lots of interesting new devices being released each year. But are all new products really worth it? Recent research says no.
For example, one study
examining the use of innovative knee implants found that these devices are not cost-effective in elderly patients, who may not actually live long enough to benefit from the incremental gains they would get from using an innovative new device over a basic one. Similarly, metal-on-metal implants represent another new technology in the reconstructive joint implant field, and numerous problems have been brought up relating to these devices, as we’ve already discussed
On a similar front, research has been done on the necessity of preventative screening—new advancements in medicine have allowed more effective and earlier screening for various diseases and conditions. But how helpful is it, really? In October 2011, the US Preventative Services Task Force recommended that men should no longer undergo annual tests to screen for prostate cancer. This review
stated that while undergoing the test will, in fact, detect cancer, many men with prostate cancer will never be bothered by it. If men are, however, told that they have cancer, they are likely to undergo aggressive and invasive treatments and may suffer from consequences such as impotence or urinary incontinence their entire lives. Consequently, it may simply be better for these men to never know that they have cancer at all. MRG anticipates that this study may have a slight negative effect on markets such as brachytherapy seeds, which are used to treat prostate cancer.
Similarly, another study
suggested that mammograms screening for breast cancer should be scaled back. Again, the argument was that some cancers end up being treated unnecessarily, which causes undue pain and suffering to the patient. While it is not anticipated that this will have a strong effect on screening volumes, this may reduce the wear and tear on mammography systems to some extent, thereby reducing demand for replacement systems.
These studies may have been prompted by the fact that health care spending in the US is enormously high—one study
found that the US spends nearly $8,000 per person on health care. The country with the second-largest spending per capita is Norway, with approximately $5,300 per person. By contrast, Germany, the European powerhouse, spends only $4,200 on health care per person. It would be hard to argue, however, that health care is twice as good in the US as it is in Germany.
If these sorts of studies continue to be done in the US, it is likely that more devices will find themselves on the hot seat. That being said, manufacturers need to really focus on developing technological improvements that will actually provide a strong cost-benefit advantage.