The health economy has exciting topics on its agenda: Digitalisation, networking and “wearables” create a dynamic effect
The new set of dates running from Monday to Thursday has been widely accepted by the specialist visitors of the world’s largest medical trade fair, the MEDICA 2015, as well as the specialist supplier trade fair, COMPAMED 2015, being held in parallel. Both were well received right from the start this year. “The 19 trade fair halls were intensely visited without exception. The concentration of the MEDICA + COMPAMED during the normal working days of the week offers the specialist audience an even wider variety of travel planning options. This time, that had a positive effect on the well-visited trade fair forums as well as the accompanying conferences. Here, the many programme highlights were very popular on all days,” said Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH.
From 16 – 19 November, 130,000 specialist visitors from around 120 nations came to Düsseldorf (previous year: 128,500). The portion of international visitors amounted to just over 50 percent, a strikingly large number came from the foreign markets of the USA, Latin America and especially from Iran and countries located in the Arabic-speaking regions. “The MEDICA is and shall remain a top event for decision-makers across all country borders,” Joachim Schäfer added with respect to the fact that 96 percent of the visitors have decision-making power. For the first time, the complete spectrum of innovations for out-patient and clinical care were offered by almost 5,000 exhibitors from 70 nations to experts from hospitals, practices, laboratories, the retail sector as well as from industrial ranks and cost bearers (insurance companies) that are especially relevant with regard to investments.
The exhibitors especially benefit to a great extent from MEDICA’s high level of internationalisation on the side of visitors. This is because the medical industry is developing in a dynamic and unchanged manner, being particularly driven by the export business. For the coming year, the companies organised within the Federal Association of Medical Technology (BVMed e.V.) expect an increase in sales of 6.8 percent on a worldwide level, whereas growth of 4.3 percent has been forecast for the German market. For the MEDICA 2015, the industry associations SPECTARIS and ZVEI have confirmed an evident growth of at least six percent for their member companies, also resulting from the “solid” growth levels of the business in Western Europe. In accordance with this, the sales volumes of German manufacturers is currently at around 27 billion euros at an export quota of 68 percent. Nevertheless, the German market, which is virtually just outside the gates of the MEDICA trade fair, will remain quite lucrative from an industrial perspective. Following the USA and trailing right behind Japan, it is considered the third largest market for medical technology and medical products. Germany also scores top marks with its good healthcare infrastructure, a good level of care for patients, well-educated medical professionals and high standards regarding clinical research.
Gröhe and Wanka provided for political momentum
In order to guarantee this high level shown in a worldwide comparison in the future, not one, but two members from the ranks of the federal government used the MEDICA as premium platform for discussion and communication of current political issues. On the occasion of the opening of the MEDICA 2015, at the 38th German Hospital Conference, the Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, underlined the significance of the planned hospital structure law to improve the financial resources of German hospitals. Following this, at the MEDICA ECON FORUM, he discussed current health policy issues. On the occasion of the opening of the MEDICA 2015, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Professor Johanna Wanka, presented, at the MEDICA HEALTH IT FORUM, the federal government's pioneering funding concept for medical informatics. It focuses on exactly what is still currently lacking in many cases: Many medical data are saved, scattered around hospitals, clinics or other medical institutions – often not even in digital form. Federal Minister Wanka highlighted that due to this, innovative IT solutions are in demand to provide for improved consolidation of data. “One of the largest subject-matter focuses of the MEDICA entails the digitalisation of the medical field. That is why the MEDICA 2015 is the ideal place to present the development concept of medical informatics. For us, it mainly concerns using medically relevant data for the well-being of patients. If these data are systematically evaluated, more precise diagnoses and improved therapies can be derived therefrom as a result."
The digital “revolution” could be based on patients
The MEDICA visitors were able to be impressed with regard to numerous innovations presented by exhibitors in the face of the digital future already taking shape in very specific ways, but also by the lectures and presentations that were being held at the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM (with the MEDICA App COMPETITION) or the MEDICA HEALTH IT FORUM. For this reason, among other things, projects and IT applications were presented providing a live connection to the patient, from the hospital bed into a classroom by means of the Internet, tablet PCs and a controllable robot or also the project entailing a telemedical consultation session to improve medical care in rural areas.
In particular, “wearables” and smartphones in combination with special health apps which can also be used by patients themselves have the potential of becoming an essential element of networked health in the future. The product innovations at the MEDICA 2015 included the first mobile 22-channel ECG system for tablet PCs and smartphones. The system not only makes the diagnosis of arrhythmias possible, but also the diagnosis of circulatory insufficiency (the early signs of a heart attack). A high level of interest was also shown for a mobile analysis tool to measure emotions for the optimum management of stress or a device similar to a Frisbee disc with a mobile telephone connection for the precise analysis of sleep activities – at a sleep laboratory level, but for uncomplicated use under the mattress in one's own bed. Everyone was also able to gain an impression at the “Wearable Technologies Show” (in hall 15) of “where the journey will go from here” and what analysis data patients will possibly be confronting their physicians with in the near future. The variety of devices ranges from lifestyle products, such as fitness trackers, to intelligent glasses and hearing devices, all the way to the latest trend – intelligent patches that continually retrieve physical data, but that can also administer medications in a minimally invasive manner.
In general, the miniaturisation trend in the field of medical technology is continuing. This also applies with reference to devices and systems that should only really be used by “professionals in the field”. This includes, for example, extremely compact devices with sizes that are suitable for jacket pockets for medical imaging, whereby that can still be taken to extremes. This is because an ultrasound device was presented at the MEDICA 2015 consisting of a mere transducer having a connection to a tablet PC with a matching app. Also new: a system with a wireless transducer for particular freedom of movement during ultrasound examinations.
Supporting programme is well received at an international level
During the accompanying conferences, a subject of discussion was also made concerning how such medical technology innovations can bring about an optimum level of benefit within the scope of the daily routine at many medical institutions. In particular, these included the DiMiMED for military and disaster medicine, which also received good international participant feedback with its presentations held in English, as well as the MEDICA PHYSIO CONFERENCE conceived especially for physiotherapeutic treatment concepts.
The MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE, organised by the Germany Society for Internal Medicine (DGIM) and Messe Düsseldorf, offered many interdisciplinary and international programme highlights within the scope of 56 events with 168 speakers from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Poland, among others. The connection between science and medical technology was the common theme of the presentations. Thereby, with topics such as surgical robotics, gerontotechnologies, image fusion and interventional therapies, the select focuses of the four conference days ideally built a bridge to the innovations of the MEDICA exhibitors and were well received by the participants,” said the conference president, Professor Hendrik Lehnert, confirming the subject-matter focus in the concept of the continuing education event.
Once again, the 38th German Hospital Conference, which was accompanied in a complimentary manner this time by the internationally oriented 3rd European Hospital Conference, was on the one hand dedicated to health policies according to the motto “Reform 2015 – conceived from the perspective of patients”. On the other however, “substantial issues” were also dealt with within the programme for approx. 1,900 participants from the field of hospital management. During the sessions of the IT initiative “ENTSCHEIDERFABRIK”, it was shown how company success can be increased by means of using IT. For example, a current hospital project that was presented is dedicated to process optimisation in emergency departments, which are considered to be cost-intensive – taking into consideration all relevant “interfaces” by means of improved communications and data exchange (e.g. between the A+E unit, the operating theatre and hospital bed planning).
Suppliers as partners for the entire supply chain
Being the leading trade fair for suppliers of the medical technology industry and being held for the first time during the course of four days, the COMPAMED took place in connection with the MEDICA already for the 24th time. A record number of 779 exhibitors presented technology solutions and services for the entire medical technology supply chain to the 18,800 specialist visitors in halls 8a and 8b – from the development to approval, all the way to mass production and sales, as well as spare parts handling. For example, the joint stand of the IVAM – the German Industry Association for Microtechnology – as well as both specialist forums integrated into the COMPAMED made the continuous miniaturisation a subject of discussion, entailing increasingly more compact and, at the same time, more complex systems. Highlights at the COMPAMED 2015 include, among other things, smart sensors for use in “wearables”, microsystem technology applications for intelligent implants or also printed electronics (made a topic of discussion in a session of the IVAM forum by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland).
Dates of the next MEDICA and COMPAMED in Düsseldorf: 14 - 17 November 2016