AMSTERDAM — As the population ages and life expectancy increases, not only are people staying in the workforce longer but also aging bodies need tending for longer.
Health care spending is accelerating in developed nations, resulting in a significant financial burden, Jim Mazzo, operating partner for Versant Ventures, said, while leading a panel discussion on global reimbursement challenges at the Ophthalmology Futures European Forum. Rising health care costs limit access to new technology and reimbursement, driving the need for alternative solutions for paying those costs, he said.
“We now expect patients to pay for some of these technologies. We’ve seen it in the United States, we’ve seen it in parts of Europe, and we’re starting to see it across Asia-Pacific,” Mazzo said.
“At the end of the day, government will say, ‘I cannot continue to pay for technologies unless they are very unlike the ones that you are trying to make obsolete,” Mazzo said. Governments cannot afford to pay for similar technologies, and if they are introduced, they will not be reimbursed, Mazzo said.
Utility, society value, access and quality of health care are driving factors for reimbursement in the United Kingdom, panelist Joanne Holden, a technical advisor for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, said. New technologies are accepted through rational decision making that is evidence-based, she said.
Another factor to take into account for development of devices are the start-up costs, panelist Paula Wittels, program director for Translucency, UK, said. Decisions take into account cost effectiveness, but funds must be available at the start to develop the technology.
“It can be very difficult to get that technology started at a certain center because the money isn’t available to start it, and the cost saving or benefits further down the line are too far away for the technology to get over the hurdle of that initial budget impact,” Wittels said.
Disclosure: Holden is a technical advisor for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the United Kingdom. Mazzo is operating partner for Versant Ventures. Witteis is program director for Translucency, UK.