Medical devices

Key messages from the first meeting of the advisory group on health technology
21-23 April 2009, Geneva, Switzerland

Sessions 1-3

Opening Session
Dr Steffen Groth and Dr Andrei Issakov

  • Meeting serves primarily as a review of existing healthcare technology tools, with a view to improving them and making health care technology people-centred and aligned to the Primary Health Reform.
  • Two projects serve as the basis for the meeting: the Global Initiative on Health Technologies (GIHT) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the project on Strengthening of Healthcare Infrastructure and Technology Management for Optimized Health Service Delivery (HIT), funded by Lux-Development.
  • Although differently formulated, both projects aim to provide tools and guidance on assessing current technologies in countries, setting technology standards, selecting appropriate technologies, and managing and maintaining procured technology resources.

Session 1: Optimizing Healthcare Infrastructure and Technology Management in Countries - What Tools are Needed?
Dr Yunkap Kwankam

  • HTM challenges do not seem have changed in two decades. So, we need a new approach.
  • Health infrastructure and technology are not an end in themselves – HIT must serve a purpose: the set of goals and functions of the health system.
  • There are some tools available for managing technology. The greater need is for tools to mainstream HTM into the health system, and one mechanism is by leveraging other programs.

Session 2a: Healthcare Infrastructure and Technology Policies - Framework and Formulation Process
Mr Roger Schmitt

  • HTM challenges may not have changed over two decades, but the context has changed who we are dealing with; financing schemes have dramatically changed – players, flows of financial resources and how they are spent.
  • Stewardship by the Ministry of Health is critical to the successful implementation of a national healthcare technology policy.
  • As to existing tools, it is not sufficient to make them available. There need to be accompanying measures in their development, to help ensure that the tools are applied and easy to use.

Session 2b: Healthcare Infrastructure and Technology Policies - Implementation Challenges, Strategies and Tools to Determine Effectiveness
Mr Bastiaan Rammelzwaal

  • It is important to take a results-based approach, which looks at outputs, outcomes, and impact.
  • Through the use of quantitative indicators, feedback can be provided to help improve HTM policies.
  • What is needed are guidelines on indicators and examples on how to use them by the countries.

Session 3a: Health Technology Assessment
Dr Reiner Banken

  • The goal of HTA is to provide input to decision-making in policy and practice.
  • The poorer a country the more it needs HTA.
  • Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) need to build capacity to access information where it is available and determine its relevance to their questions.

Session 3b: Healthcare Technology Needs Assessment and Planning
Mr Mario Castaneda

  • Countries sometimes do not know how to plan what they need, and sometimes plan for what they do not need. A proposal was made for a working group to focus on development of planning tools.
  • Lists of medical devices which are needed could be determined from analysis of clinical guidelines to determine which guidelines call for which medical devices.
  • There is increasing convergence between information technology and health technology - the inclusion of software is even now included in the definition of a medical device. Hence the need to consider these technologies together.