If you’re involved in medical device design, the annual Medtech conference put on by Ibiliti is a great forum for learning about current issues in the field. Their 2011 conference was held on November 1st and 2nd in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This year’s event was again very informative, with a good cross-section of speakers and panel discussions.

Two topics in particular resonated with me. One had to do with health care costs, specifically how our aging population will impact those costs. The other was about future trends in medicine, particularly preventative care and the opportunities that genome sequencing will provide.

Health care cost

According to the panelists, the costs of medical devices and drugs are a relatively small portion of overall health care cost. By far the biggest contributor to rising cost is in the operational expense of delivering health care. Solutions found in this area will have the greatest impact in bringing health care cost down. I would agree with that, as far as it concerns patients who are already (or soon will be) in chronic stages of disease. As such, it’s a relatively near-term strategy (and certainly very important). However, I believe there is huge potential in containing cost by improving the effectiveness of preventative care so that people stay healthy longer. More on this next time.