The February edition of Health Affairs was devoted to Biomedical Innovation. One article in particular caught the attention of our Advisory Board member Dr. Geraldine McGinty, a radiologist at Weill Cornell and chair of the ACR Commission on Economics: Investor Drought And Regulatory Headwinds Slow Device Innovation (subscription required). A related blog post (no charge) How To Restore The Innovation Ecosystem For Medical Technology covers many of the same issues Dr. McGinty provides her perspective below.
“As a med student I was drawn to the specialty of radiology by the diagnostic possibilities offered by technology and the ways in which imaging innovation can improve the lives of our patients. If, as this editorial suggests, venture capitalists are betting against technology innovation in healthcare it doesn’t just hurt me professionally, much more importantly it leaves the potential for the cancer cures and healthier lives of our patients unrealized.
It sounds as if the FDA processes that have hobbled innovators in this space are slowly improving and if the widespread opposition to the Device Tax imposed by the Affordable Care Act translates into action that hurdle may also fall although I’m not holding my breath. The far more concerning reason for the apparent loss of confidence of the investor community is that our healthcare delivery system seems to be viewing technology in a negative light.
It’s definitely true that we need to apply a rigorous approach to adopting new technology and our fee for service payment system has not incentivized that in the past. However, with the implementation of clinical decision support tools for imaging there is a new focus on appropriateness. If payers and integrated delivery systems are not expansive in their thinking around innovations in technology we may miss out on the MRI equivalent, the next PET scanner or the device that replaces a more expensive surgical procedure. I’m all for a robust approach to justifying value. I fully understand the real costs associated with our heretofore failure to implement blindingly obvious measures like care coordination but we must embrace the possibilities offered by innovation in technology in parallel lest we fail to deliver what may be possible to our patients.”