UCL Technology Innovation Forum Event

Future of Medicine

New medical technologies need new policies, experts say

Conference leaders issue declaration of principles for integrating new medical technologies into European healthcare

LONDON, Nov. 6, 2008 – At a conference at University College London (UCL), experts from industry and academia urged policy changes to integrate new medical technologies more quickly into the European healthcare system.

Potential benefits of these technologies – including personalised medicine, at-home diagnostics and consultations, Europe-wide bio-banks and patient registries – are being delayed by slow uptake in many of the national healthcare systems. Research into these new technologies must also be advanced, to improve healthcare and ensure a competitive European role in future medical research and development.

"This is a subject of fundamental importance," said Mike Spyer, Vice Provost (Enterprise) at UCL. "Healthcare budgets are under pressure across Europe. At the same time, new developments in science and technology could transform medicine. The challenge is to deliver this potential in an affordable way."

This will not only require healthcare to be more patient-centred, it also calls for the medical professionals to think beyond their specialities and take a far more holistic view, said Spyer.

The conference, "The Future Delivery of Medicine: 2020", provided a showcase for the new health treatments and systems arising from the convergence of once-disparate technologies in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostic equipment, bioinformatics, medical imaging and other fields. These technologies, because they blur the line between different fields, require new methods of approval, reimbursement and administration. At a private meeting before the start of the conference, a group of speakers and other experts discussed the following guidelines for future policy formulation.

Many changes will be required across the value chain, from basic research through to delivery of medical care at the bedside and in the home. This will require fundamental rethinking and reshaping of all the processes that currently underpin healthcare systems, challenging healthcare professionals to look outside their specialities, and requiring regulators to rethink their views of risk and reimbursement authorities to take a different view of value and affordability.




Conference Reports

"The meeting was a unique forum for open, frank interaction between university, government, regulators and industry; it was refreshing in its openness and envigorating in the quality and strength of the interaction."
Professor John Martin, Director of Centre for Cardiovascular Biology & Medicine, UCL.