Medical device and funding industry representatives have agreed that, mainly because of the fragmented nature of both relationships and processes, uniform measures have to be put in place to ultimately increase access and improve cost efficiencies.

Responding to an observation made during last week’s SA Medical Devices (SAMED) Conference that medical device marketers “get lost in the mix’ when it comes to the fragmented nature and different approaches taken by the country’s funders, Dr Ronald Wheland (pictured), of Discovery Health, concurred: “This is a very complex landscape with many stakeholders and role players. As already mentioned, health technology assessment (HTA) is a good example.

“We have an HTA unit and other funders have units so we have different requirements across different units. This is good feedback for us to find some way to have uniformity as one piece.

“As health professionals, “Wheland continued, “we spend a lot of time, and rightly so, on clinical requirements, a lot of scoping of research and data around clinical evidence for particular devices and products.

“What I don’t think we spend enough time on, and this is feedback to colleagues in the device industry, is the commercials. While a product will work clinically, how do we create a solid commercial value proposition for this? We struggle to figure out the commercial value proposition across many products. While they work clinically, we cannot make cost the equation work on the other side.

“So my request to device colleagues is to come in with the commercials right up front so we can sweat and work on those together.”

There are many examples where devices were adding tremendous value, Wheland acknowledged, one in particular being continuous glucose monitoring: “A brilliant clinical device and brilliant commercial device in terms of reducing the cost of increasing access. We are certainly open to those devices which achieve both objectives, scaling access to them as we are doing with glucose monitoring at the moment.”

Concluding the point, Wheland stressed that the right “sweet spots” had to be found where it made sense for device players and funders to be incentivised jointly in the line of increasing access, growing the market and improving cost efficiencies.

In her contribution to the discussion, Medscheme’s Dr Samukeliso Dube agreed that there was a need to start streamlining the system. Competitive collaboration between funders, she indicated, was already happening in some areas – an example being on alternative reimbursement models (ARMs) for pharmaceuticals.

“So we do have the platform where we do collaborate, to push the agenda forward in this regard. I don’t think it is impossible for us to achieve some form of uniformity,” Dube noted, “but we have to have the conversation to see what is viable and what is achievable.”