I wrote last month about the Forbes article focusing on designed obsolescence in medical devices. It pointed out the travesty of medical device manufacturer practices that disable hospitals’ ability to gain a healthcare economics advantage from safe and FDA cleared device reprocessing, and it was pulled two days after it was published, for unknown reasons... Our company has reached out to the responsible editor, but there has been no response. You would think that this means a threatening sponsorship environment got in the way – killing the likelihood of medical device industry practices being challenged by investigative journalism. One step forward, two steps back for hospitals trying to remain profitable by re-using devices.
However, since then, during October, two articles have been published that make the same argument. The first was in MedTech Intelligence, and it focused on when planned obsolescence goes too far: “Device manufacturers are well aware of the savings hospitals can achieve through reprocessing. And they are well aware that every time a device is re-used, the direct result is that they don’t make another sale. What is lacking is the device manufacturer’s participation in enabling hospital economics to make sense. When the device manufacturer deliberately makes a design decision only to prevent re-use, planned obsolescence has gone too far. Especially since the hospital’s decision to make procedures available depends on those economics to make sense.”
The second article came out just yesterday, the last day of the month, and was published by Medical Technology Magazine, an NRi Digital company, and was focused on how hospitals can make a difference for themselves if they take on the task of implementing more clinically and economically deliberate technology adoption practices: “By refusing to purchase new products with few technical or clinical advancements and which are designed to prohibit reprocessing, hospitals can support this practice, thus reducing costs significantly.”
By refusing to purchase new products with few technical or clinical advancements and which are designed to prohibit reprocessing, hospitals can support this practice, thus reducing costs significantly.
Medical Technology Magazine is an online journal associated with a large, global publishing organization with strong ties to the medical device industry, so to me, their publishing of this issue is significant: I think the MedTech industry is ready for a major shift of direction, and I think observers in the space are willing to take a risk and point out what is wrong. Thank you, Medical Intelligence and Medical Technology for pushing the ideas that could bring a change of direction to the medical device industry.
Two things have to happen for the necessary changes to happen and for hospitals to negotiate a different deal with MedTech to allow initiatives like single-use device reprocessing to have a positive impact: 1) MedTech players need to adopt more value-focused practices that center on the hospital’s need to reduce costs overall (no, it doesn’t mean going to Wall Street and ask for a pass on the next 8 quarterly reports, there is plenty of share gain to be realized from a shift); and 2) hospitals adopting more critical and autonomous purchasing and device utilization practices that bring them back in control of the device spend; this is not typical, but I have seen it in a couple of facilities lately, and service line profitability can be directly and substantially impacted. Single-use device reprocessing is an excellent lever to use in negotiating this “New Deal”.