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How does medical technology benefit people?

Medical technologies benefit the lives of people in many ways. Through the use of such technologies, people can live healthier, more productive and independent lives. Many individuals who previously may have been chronically ill, disabled, or suffering chronic pain can now look forward to leading normal or close-to- normal lives.

Here are just a few examples:

  • In the treatment of cardiovascular disease, the use of coronary stents - artificial tubes used in cases of coronary heart disease to keep the arteries open – have halved the number of those dying from heart attacks or suffering heart failure. Patients with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – a small device implanted for those at risk of sudden cardiac death – now have a 98% chance of surviving a cardiac arrest, compared with only 5% without the implantable device.
  • For those who suffer from diabetes– a disease which is becoming increasingly common, and which places a substantial burden on health systems –now have access to very accurate blood glucose monitoring technologies. This means that they can monitor on a daily basis and control their condition much more effectively, sharply reducing the risk of suffering the common but debilitating complications of diabetes, such as blindness and peripheral nerve damage.
  • Those people undergoing surgical procedures also benefit from the ongoing advances in medical technology. The minimally-invasive surgical techniques which are now used to treat aneurysms can mean a recovery time of around four weeks, compared with over a year for older procedures. Using new medical technologies, endometrial ablation, as an alternative to hysterectomy, has a recovery time of just two to four days; the alternative needed six to eight weeks.

These are only a few of the benefits that innovative medical technology delivers to Europe’s citizens.

What other benefits does medical technology deliver to society?

Innovative medical technology is an increasingly important driver for delivering efficiencies in healthcare systems. Despite consuming a low and relatively constant 5-10%(1) of national health expenditure, between 2000 and 2008, medical technology has reduced hospital stays by an average of around 13%. This shift from in-patient to out-patient care provides substantial cost savings, as well as improving quality of life. Given the combination of Europe’s ageing demographic and the current economic climate, the value of these increased efficiencies cannot be overstated.

Cataract surgery, for example, which used to require a three to five day hospital stay, is now almost universally undertaken in day-care centres. Total knee replacements provide a cost-effectiveness ratio of around €14,000 per quality-adjusted life year (measure assessing the value for money of a medical intervention), by rehabilitating those people who would previously have required considerable home life support...

Just as important is the role that medical technology plays in allowing people to remain valuable and contributing members of society. Conditions such as cataracts or severe arthritis would previously have delayed or prevented people from returning to work or even to normal day-to-day life. However, the advances made by the industry in treating these conditions have helped overcome these challenges, reducing or removing the hurdles to rehabilitation. This significantly improves quality of life and self-esteem for many individuals. Equally important is medical technology’s role in keeping Europe’s ageing workforce active, assisting the EU to remain competitive in the global economy.

What are the wider economic benefits of medical technology?

The medical technology industry is a sizeable contributor to the European economy. It provides large numbers of high-quality jobs, attracts substantial inward investment and has created a hub for innovation.

The European market size is estimated at roughly €100 billion(1) – around 30% of the world market(2). The sector directly employs around 575,000 people(3) in Europe, many of those in highly skilled, high-value innovative jobs. Furthermore, some 95% of medical technology companies are Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) sector(3), most of which are dedicated to investing in research and development. On average the medical technology industry reinvests around 8% of sales into product research and development.

This continuous cycle of investment has made Europe a hub of excellence for innovation in medical technology. The industry is growing at more than 4% per annum, and is attracting increasing amounts of inward investment, outstripping the United States as a target for venture capital.


(1) WHO Global Health Expenditure Database, Eurostat, Eucomed calculations based on the data obtained from National Associations of 15 countries for the latest year available. Countries with (partially) provided data: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK, Switzerland.Medical technology includes in-vitro diagnostics. Europe refers to EU + Norway, Switzerland.
(2) Espicom, Eucomed calculations. Manufacturer prices. Medical device excluding in-vitro diagnostics. Europe refers to EU + Norway, Switzerland.
(3) Eucomed calculations based on the data obtained from National Associations of 15 countries for the latest year available. Countries with (partially) provided data: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK, Switzerland.Medical technology including in-vitro diagnostics. Europe refers to EU + Norway, Switzerland.