Providers and budget holders need to recognise the long term whole life value of new technologies and equipment, not just their upfront cost
Your feature on equipment investment (“Capital funding: The case for equipment investment”, 31 January) draws attention to the current dilemma in parts of the NHS where new technologies such as advanced diagnostic imaging are viewed as a cost to be constrained rather than as an investment to help deliver improved patient care and efficiencies.
At a time of increasing chronic disease and patient numbers, the need for early and accurate diagnoses to set patients on the right pathway to effective therapy and remission is more critical than ever.
‘Early and accurate diagnoses to set patients on the pathway to effective therapy and remission is more critical than ever’
The ageing installed base identified in your article contributes to increased downtime, more servicing needs and failure to reap the benefits that new technology can bring which is better for patients and better for hard pressed hospital departments and budgets such as faster, more comfortable and accurate scans, the latest radiation dose optimisation technologies, and greater flexibility and expertise sharing through improved IT capability.
Smarter solutions needed
Innovative medical technologies that can help drive efficiencies and productivity are available today but procurement processes are ill equipped to cope with bringing them into use in a timely manner.
More focus is needed on smarter financing options for healthcare providers so that clinicians and patients can benefit from the implementation of technological developments.
Providers and budget holders need to recognise the long term whole life value of new technologies, not just their upfront cost.
In the current financial climate, funding solutions where capital expenditure becomes operating expenditure and includes long term service and upgrades is an attractive solution.
Of course it is not always the case that the newest, highest end equipment is needed. The most important driver of adoption of medical technologies should not be that they are the latest, but that they are the appropriate medical technologies.
These innovations need to add value to the healthcare system by improving patient outcomes or safety, or efficiencies and productivity.
‘Providers and budget holders need to recognise the long term whole life value of new technologies, not just their upfront cost’
Technology companies such as GE Healthcare are investing in the development of products which have been engineered to meet these specific needs as well as offering services to help hospitals maximise the use of new technology and the skilled staff who use it.
I was encouraged to note in the Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care strategy from the Department of Health and NHS England, which referred to an “initiative to fundamentally rethink clinical engagement in the procurement of high value medical devices” with the aim to “ensure the NHS is responsive to innovative solutions and ideas from industry”.
This recognition is welcome but as HSJ’s article showed, more needs to be done to offer solutions that can be put into place now.
This is an issue facing not just the NHS or the medical device industry, but the healthcare system as a whole and the wellbeing of patients who rely on the NHS every day.
Karl Blight, general manager of GE Healthcare UK and Ireland