MedTech 2020: Industry response to pandemic ‘the Australian Model’

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MTAA CEO Ian Burgess has used his opening address to the association's annual conference, MedTech 2020, to highlight the sector's approach to navigating the challenges confronted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our industry performed a significant leadership role in coordinating the supply of essential medical devices. MTAA stepped in to collaborate with Government to secure essential supplies of testing kits, ventilators, PPE and also broader ICU equipment," he said.

Mr Burgess acknowledged an opening address by health minister Greg Hunt who also highlighted the sector's role in supporting the pandemic response.

"In fact, our industry-led collaboration model has become known as ‘the Australian Model’ that is recognised as one of the best responses globally in securing the supply of essential medical equipment," said Mr Burgess.

"During the pandemic, we’ve seen companies that would normally be fierce competitors, unite to give resources, time and effort and collaborate – all to ensure that Australia was well placed to meet the challenge.

"This was a truly remarkable response and it was really quite inspiring."

He said the pandemic has highlighted the "essential role" of the sector to Australia's health system. 

"Ensuring the viability and sustainability of our industry is therefore critical," he continued, but added many companies have faced significant financial constraints as a result of the cutbacks to elective surgery and supply chain constraints with a significant jump in freight costs.

"Just as COVID was unfolding at the start of this year, the last round of cuts to Prostheses List benefits were implemented," he said.

"Our industry has provided a significant contribution to improving the affordability of private health insurance through our Agreement with the Government. The cuts to the Prostheses List are well on the way to exceeding the Department’s forecast of $1.1B during the term of the Agreement.

"Our industry continues to be the only part of the health system that has incurred significant cuts in revenue in order to provide direct savings for private health insurers.

"We are again approaching a critical period as the next wave of reforms of the PL are about to be formulated.

"We remain committed to collaborative discussions with Government to develop a funding model for medical devices which delivers value, choice and quality to consumers and supports innovation and a sustainable MedTech industry."