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22/08/2017

Magazine informs about German medical aids market

The biannual journal MedTech Radar reports on the latest trends and innovations in Germany's medical technology industry. Each issue focuses on a specific topic, with the latest one putting the spotlight on medical aids. The magazine is published in German and English, making it a great source of information on Germany's medical aid market for non-German speakers.

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The German Medical Technology Association (BVMed), the venture capital investors High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and Earlybird Venture Capital as well as BIOCOM AG, jointly publish the magazine. This issue features general information on the medical aids market in Germany, an article on high demand for newer, more innovative products, and an editorial about the latest rules influencing the country's medical aids market, including a new law regulating reimbursement for medical aids called the Heil- und Hilfsmittelversorgungsgesetz (HHVG). The HHVG came into effect in April. MedTech Radar reports that the HHVG's aim is to ensure the supply of and treatment with medical aids through improved coverage from Germany's statutory health insurance funds.

Germany's market for medical aids is growing rapidly, reports the magazine, noting that the medical aids market is highly diverse. MedTech Radar forecasts that as the population ages, demand for medical aids is sure to grow. The report cites figures from Germany's National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-Spitzenverband) showing that its members spent EUR 7.84 billion on these products in 2016. It also presents statistics dating back six years, which indicate a spending increase of nearly 25 percent from 2011 through 2016.

MedTech Radar explains that medical aids include custom-made products and off-the-shelf items, including hearing aids, visual aids, crutches, wheelchairs, orthopedic shoes, compression stockings, prostheses, blood glucose monitors and a wide range of software. It refers readers to Germany's Medical Aids Index, which lists the products for which statutory health insurance funds will reimburse patients. Currently, it contains more than 29 thousand products classified in 33 different product groups.

The magazine says that as the medical aids market grows, the general rate of technological change means that demand for innovative, new products is growing as well. It presents a number of groundbreaking, new aids that have little in common with crutches or wheelchairs. One product is a system for treating chronic pain developed at Bonn University Clinic. Based on what is known as Small Fiber Matrix Stimulation (SFMS), it targets "pain fibers specifically to significantly reduce pain."

A highly innovative trend that is having an impact on medical aids is 3D printing, says MedTech Radar. The magazine tells the story of a company that has developed a software platform to enable 3D construction of prostheses and orthotics, noting that the technology will be an advantage in documenting production processes to comply with Germany's new Medical Device Regulation.

MedTech Radar also reports that Germany's regulatory environment for medical aids is changing in response to a range of issues. An editorial by a BVMed board member, Joachim M. Schmitt, and BVMed Communications Director Manfred Beeres, addresses what impact the new law on medical aids, is having on patient reimbursement. It highlights, among other things, that the criteria for awarding contracts is to be expanded and that the distinction between innovative medical aids and novel examination and treatment methods has been clarified and differentiated.

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