I love the “Value” theme for this year’s conference because I get excited thinking about providing better care to more with less. It’s hard to read a paper or listen to the news without hearing something about the increasing cost of healthcare and the need to drive value.

However, in my 18 years in healthcare, I’ve seen how difficult it is to make a value-based technology succeed. If it were simple, it would have been done already. Traditionally, improvements in efficacy and safety have been the determinants of what is adopted and paid for. Improvements in cost or value (which shouldn’t be used interchangeably, but more on that in a future blog) have typically not been rewarded.

In fact, there are currently many disincentives to take costs out of the system in our current financial, regulatory and reimbursement systems. For instance, if you shift the site of service, saving money in the long run but costing money up front, or if you save money for the system but lose money for a key decision-maker, your technology won’t get adopted. What makes sense at the macro level is often not financially viable in a fragmented system when you get into the details of who wins, who loses and what it costs to create innovations that drive value.

But things are clearly changing in the U.S. and globally that may change this equation. I am intrigued to hear from experts who are on the front lines of the changes. They are grappling with the details to understand how the financial incentives, demands and decision-makers are changing. There are a lot of questions to get to the heart of where medtech should be innovating. Will the Affordable Care Act drive interventions to lower cost sites? How will the consolidation of physician practices with hospitals change decision-making? Will preventing hospital admission be proactively paid for? Will adding services or big data to medtech have a role? Will the rising middle class in emerging markets seek value over higher efficacy? Will those products migrate from East to West?

We should not assume that all innovations that increase value to the system as a whole will be rewarded. Even the emerging systems will be winners and losers that will drive adoption of these new value-creating innovations. Without this understanding, the innovations will never be sustained and we won’t achieve the desired result of greater value for our healthcare dollar.

It is clear that the medtech industry needs to innovate to meet this challenge. At this year’s conference, we’ll explore several ways to accomplish this: driving value from within, innovating for value, funding value stories, adding new services that amplify the value of the medical technology and answering the unique demands of emerging markets. This year’s set of experts will lead us through these areas and share what they’ve learned, and what we can adopt to meet the challenge of driving value in today’s healthcare environment.

– Amy Belt