The significant contribution medical technology makes to the quality of care offered by the country’s health systems has prompted the South African Medical Technology Industry Association (SAMED) to release a formal position paper* on the procurement system required to optimise this contribution.

In essence, SAMED is promoting a procurement system that is ethical, efficient, effective and encourages competition in the market – a system that takes into account the unique characteristics of medical technology, at the heart of which is the concept of value-based procurement.

Considerations outlined in the paper (which can be accessed at the end of this article) include:

·         Medical technology undergoes rapid cycles of improvement and requires variation to meet individual patient and healthcare professional needs. Devices are often not standard commodities. A medical technology procurement system needs to take account of the product improvement cycle as well as the need to accommodate clinical variation among patients.

·         Medical technologies often remain implanted in a patient or in use at a hospital for many years. Much of the cost and economic value of medical technologies lies not in the purchase price but in servicing, technical support, training and education provided by the suppliers.

·         Maintenance of medical equipment is critical. Procurement managers should be wary of suppliers who offer a good price, but do not provide maintenance services or guarantee availability of spare parts.

·         The consignment model may sometimes be more appropriate than direct purchasing. A clear and efficient procurement-to-payment system needs to be established to address the unique process of consignment inventory. The main control in such system is validation of the products actually used during the operation.

·         Appropriate and efficient purchasing and procurement will be critical to the success and sustainability of the reformed health system funded mainly by National Health Insurance (NHI).

*The full position paper can be accessed at https://samed.org.za/about-samed/procurement-of-medical-technology/