Savings potential: innovative medical technology in the healthcare system With SmartCareTM/PS from Drager Medical, the system designed for weaning ICU patients from artificial ventilation, more than 600 million euros could be saved each year in Germany alone. This is the conclusion of Prof Marc Kraft, MD of the Medical Technology Department of the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. In a study , which he carried out together with the corporate consulting company Droege & Comp. and the industrial association Spectaris, he identified 10 innovations that could contribute savings of over 800 million euros annually to the German healthcare system.

In current discussions on healthcare costs, modern medical technology is often cited as one of the cost drivers. Nevertheless, the authors of the study uncovered the greatest savings potential in SmartCare/PS: Over 50 percent of all patients in the ICU are artificially ventilated. Treating these patients is often protracted and expensive. In particular, weaning the patient from the ventilator through a manual, incremental reduction of the ventilation pressures at the device is extremely time-consuming and risky for the patient. SmartCare/PS, based on clinical protocols, is integrated in the Dr?ger EvitaXL ventilator and performs this process automatically. According to the study, savings are realised mainly by reducing the patient?s hospital stay by approx. 2.6 days and avoiding otherwise necessary medication and supplies valued at 2,000 euros per case.

As a part of their cost-benefit analysis, the researchers looked at direct savings in materials and personnel costs through more efficient procedures and shorter hospital stays. Based on the number of cases and the studied hospitals, the researchers estimated the savings potential for the entire country. The estimates also took into account the indirect savings realised through prevention or cure of diseases resulting from new procedures. Factors that are especially difficult to quantify, such as more rapid recovery, physical inviolability, quick reintegration into work or normal life do have an impact on the economy, they maintain. This is an aspect that is often left out of the current debate.

It is precisely this savings potential that ends up being reflected in statistics outside of healthcare, such as labor market statistics. The cost debate is therefore far from being comprehensive. The authors also point out that new methods of diagnosis and treatment drop in cost with more widespread use, and are therefore more accessible to the general public, a fact that is often overlooked.

The study is published in German and can be obtained via

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