Healthcare products should be chosen for quality not price, say German
7 February 2007
Berlin, Germany. German medical technology companies
and sickness funds agreed that competing on product quality is better than a
price-based economy. That was one of the findings of BVMed's January
conference on the German health reforms.
Some 100 delegates assembled in
Berlin to hear hospital directors' association (VKD) president Heinz Kolking
issue a warning that the concept of hospital buying clubs, which put
pressure on prices, is coming nearer. On the contrary, he said, what is
needed is for product quality to be at the leading edge of healthcare
provision. High-quality brands — such as those in the hip implant and
pacemaker sectors, for instance — can only be built by "partnerships"
between medical technology manufacturers and service providers.
sickness insurance fund director Hans Jurgen Ahrens concurred with Mr
Kolking. IKK sickness fund director Rolf Stuppardt went further, saying:
"Cheap goods is not the route we want to go down." He said the insurance
funds were ready to work in partnership with manufacturers, to which BVMed
director Joachim Schmitt replied that the industry, too, is willing to enter
into dialogue with medtech aids service providers.
Mr Stuppardt commented
on the problem that certain manufacturers of palliative care products were
not able to become partners of the sickness funds, as the post-reform
concept will be for business to be secured by tendering for contracts. This
obviously does not suit those manufacturers who will be effectively locked
out of trading, or patients, who are used to locally-supplied care aids, and
will sometimes require a high degree of service and support for those
products. In this case, perhaps collective contracts could be the answer,
said the IKK director.