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Technology essential to keeping healthcare affordable

The four technical universities (TUs), as 4TU, handed a position paper to Marcel van Raaij, Director of Medicines & Medical Technology at the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The TUs hope that this position paper will encourage a balanced consideration of the costs of medical technology.

Dr Erik Koffijberg, associate professor at the University of Twente: “The idea has arisen that technology is synonymous with higher costs. This is by no means always the case. With this paper we want to emphasise that many technologies have a cost-reduction effect, and that technology will be an essential component of affordable, staffable, and efficient healthcare in the future.”

Technology as part of the solution 

Erik Koffijberg: “Technology has enormously improved the quality of healthcare, but this has often been accompanied by higher costs. Many new medical technologies can reduce costs, however, while delivering identical, or improved, health outcomes. The fact that this is not always experienced is often because implementation trajectories have had too narrow a focus and lacked evaluation moments. Cost-saving opportunities are unused, and the technology is then often wrongly seen as part of the problem rather than as a way of keeping future healthcare affordable. The fact is that technology can be used to achieve cost savings in healthcare. To do so it is essential not just to have well-elaborated and well-supported implementation processes, but also to include evaluation moments in the technological development process and to research into the optimum use of the technology.”

Saving millions through ‘Health Technology Assessment’              

In the position paper, entitled Healthcare costs: how medical technology can contribute towards affordable care, the four technical universities calculate that research before and during the technological development and implementation stages could generate savings of between millions and tens of millions of euros a year. A ‘Health Technology Assessment’ (HTA) can, in combination with implementation research, help to identify the cost-saving potential of a medical technology at an early stage, and to remove the barriers to its successful implementation. Such barriers might, for instance, be excessive implementation costs, sub-optimal use, the limited adoption of a new technology or the partial replacement of an older one. These different kinds of obstacle affect different domains within healthcare and therefore demand a multidisciplinary approach. The 4TU partners call for cooperation in academic teaching and research in order to focus these more clearly on future demands with regard to the development and use of technology in Dutch healthcare, with a view to keeping it affordable, staffable, and efficient.

4TU

The position paper Healthcare costs: how medical technology can contribute towards affordable care was commissioned by the steering group Health@4TU. This 4TU steering group focuses on medical research and works to encourage collaborations with partners in the healthcare domain.

4TU itself contributes towards healthcare and welfare in the Netherlands by strengthening, pooling, and promoting the maximum use of knowledge and creativity in the technology sector. The four technical universities therefore work together to strengthen and pool the technological knowledge of the four universities, with the goal of delivering an adequate supply of well-trained engineers and technical designers, performing socially relevant research of international standing, and promoting collaborations between research institutes and the business community. For more information, see www.4tu.nl.

J.C. Vreeman (Jochem)
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)