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Vol 21, No. 02, February 2017   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
APACMed in MedTech Industry — Insights from Brent Scott
The responses are attributed to Brent Scott, Board of Directors, Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed) and President, Stryker Asia Region

Founded in 2014, APACMed is a relatively new organisation. What are some contributions that APACMed has made in Asia Pacific?

The Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed) was established in 2014 as a non-profit trade association that aims to unify the medical technology industry across Asia Pacific and raise standards of care for patients. As an association, we have important responsibilities including:

  • Add value, stay relevant and serve member organisations
  • Serve patients and ensure they have timely access to the most appropriate medical technologies and innovations
The main event is the annual Asia Pacific MedTech Forum, which brings together key stakeholders in the industry to address pressing issues and develop new solutions to solve the region’s unmet healthcare needs. APACMed hosts a range of events throughout the year, including an annual Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) workshop, MedTech HR Summit, Legal and Compliance Meeting and Regulatory Affairs Summit.

APACMed has been extremely active around driving regulatory harmonisation. The Regulatory Affairs Committee actively works with organisations such as APEC-RHSC (APEC Regulatory Harmonisation Steering Committee) and CIMDR (China International Medical Device Regulatory Forum). In November, APACMed became an Official Liaison Member of the Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP).

As APACMed continues to grow and build on these activities, it hopes to expand its membership base to reflect the incredible diversity in this industry and across Asia Pacific. More importantly, we must continue to live up to our mission to make a difference to patients.

APACMed organises the Asia Pacific MedTech Forum annually. How is this year’s forum different from last year’s?

The inaugural Asia Pacific MedTech Forum 2015 was the first event of its kind for the region and a rousing success. The 2016 edition of the MedTech Forum built upon last year’s insights and took a deep dive into APACMed’s strategic pillar of collaboration with the theme “Creating New Partnerships in Healthcare”.

This year’s Forum (2016) explored how multi-stakeholder collaboration across the healthcare sector could address key challenges, ranging from the region’s regulatory systems, accelerating the pace of medical education and ensuring patient access to life-saving and life-changing innovations.

Additionally, APACMed’s inaugural Legal and Compliance Meeting and Regulatory Affairs Summit were held in conjunction with the Forum. This was an opportunity for industry leaders to share best practices around compliance trends and regulatory capability building in the region respectively.

We saw more than 500 delegates from 22 countries attend this year and a greater diversity of attendees beyond industry professionals, including government officials, academia, regulators and healthcare professionals.

As a panelist on the ‘Engaging Through Change – Leadership through Organisational Disruption in Medical Technology’ session in MedTech Forum 2016, what were your key takeaways and insights?

As the medical technology industry continues to consolidate through mergers and acquisition and organisational disruption becomes the new norm, there are many factors that require careful consideration to assist with successful change and integration. The key themes that came out of the panel discussion on this topic were strong leadership, the importance of culture and the need for innovation.

Authentic leadership and trust are crucial in inspiring employees as they become increasingly dependent on receiving appropriate information through transparent communications. This can be built through leadership qualities such as motivating teams through difficult times, propelling the company towards achieving results, in line with its purpose and instilling a culture of continuous improvement.

Are there any collaborations between Stryker and APACMed to advance the industry? If so, could you briefly share more details?

APACMed comprises a wide range of companies, including local SMEs and large multinationals. As individual companies, we talk about how our technological advances save lives, but we need to look beyond our separate expertise and cultivate strategic partnerships to achieve our common goal of improving healthcare systems in Asia Pacific.

This means breaking boundaries and finding new ways to collaborate beyond the industry. The industry is increasingly forming partnerships with external bodies such as healthcare professionals, academia and government organisations, so that we can come together and identify the best solutions for our patients.

What types of strategic partnerships does the medical technology industry see as critical in order to address needs in Asia Pacific?

The medical technology industry currently sees two key types of partnerships, which will ultimately help the industry cater to unmet healthcare needs:

  • Partnerships between global multinationals (MNCs) and local SMEs
    Smaller players have been on the rise, particularly in Asia Pacific, due to increased access to technology and low manufacturing costs. Global MNCs recognise their versatility and ability to adapt to change – leading to many strategic alliances, where they have leveraged these capabilities and in return provide them access to their extensive network and knowledge base.

  • Partnerships with players outside of the industry
    Medical technology companies are expanding their partnership strategies to include a broader range of players – allowing product innovation to tap into technology and marketing expertise, such as consumer preferences and data innovation. Examples of these external partnerships include government and regulators, insurers, telecommunications and consumer technology companies.

From your perspective, how do medical technology companies balance corporate profits with social responsibility and patient needs?

Medical technology companies must place the needs of the patient at the centre of everything they do. This means driving cost-effective and value-based solutions through Research & Development and ensuring corporate social responsibility goes hand in hand with business priorities so that life-saving treatments are readily available and accessible for those who need them.

What will be the priorities driving industry efforts in the coming years?

Medical technology has played a tremendous role in advancing patient care. It has opened the door to new methods of treatment, allowing physicians to work more effectively than ever before. Patients have benefited from this and become more empowered to take control of their own health through the use of wearables, for example.

However, there remains room for improvement across the industry – namely in achieving regulatory harmonisation and addressing healthcare access.

Access to life-saving treatments is key area of improvement and was widely discussed the MedTech Forum 2016. The lack of access to surgical care is arguably the world’s largest public health challenge. The Lancet Commission’s Global Surgery 2030 found that five billion people lack safe and affordable surgical care, making it a focus area for APACMed moving forward.

Navigating Asia Pacific’s fragmented regulatory landscape is also complex. There are inconsistencies in device classifications, mutual recognition agreements and clinical trial requirements, making it challenging for companies to bring innovative products to patients in many parts of the region. Independent associations, such as APACMed, are well placed to be the unifying voice of the industry and lead constructive dialogues with regulators around these topics.

It is evident through the discussions at the Asia Pacific MedTech Forum 2016 that the industry must come together to tackle these challenges and it is APACMed’s commitment to help forge these partnerships.

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