The 38th World Forum for Medicine showcased the entire spectrum of new products, services and procedures for use in doctors' surgeries and clinics. Alongside the traditionally very popular fields of medical technology and electro-medicine, this time physiotherapeutic procedures and medical IT were also in greater demand. MEDICA also once again justified its reputation as a sectoral event for decision-makers. Almost 90 percent of the trade visitors have at least a consultative say in relevant investment decisions and around 70 percent play a determining or co-determining role in decision-making. And reflecting this, many exhibitors reported encountering a generally investment-friendly trade audience.
"Many of the innovations presented at MEDICA and ComPaMED improve patient care, tighten up treatment procedures and thereby help to relieve the burden of costs. It is clear the industry is being pushed to attain a truly high level of performance by the challenges set by government health policies", commented Wilhelm Niedergöker, Managing Director at Messe Düsseldorf, stressing the quality of the range on offer at the fair. This view is also confirmed by a study published to coincide with MEDICA by the Technical University of Berlin, corporate consultants Droege & Comp. and the industrial association SPECTARIS. According to the study, the use of progressive technology in the German health care system could save almost one billion euros.
Performance-related insights - specifically also from German research and development in the field of medical technology - were already conveyed in MEDICA's opening event during which German Federal Minister for Research Dr. Annette Schaven awarded this year's prize-winners of the "Innovation Competition for the Promotion of Medical Technology". Winners, for instance, included projects from Duisburg-Essen University - high-resolution full-body scans, Bochum University - photo-acoustic imaging for the early diagnosis of breast cancer, the Medical Clinic Berlin - a special filter system for removing antibodies from the blood, and TemplaTech GmbH Darmstadt - treatment of bladder infections with silver ion implants. MEDICA's Special Show MEDICA VISION hosted all winning projects and gave visitors the chance to exchange ideas with the researchers involved in the developments.
As for other areas presented by exhibitors, products for self-diagnosis - i.e. ones which can be used and paid for by patients themselves - are becoming increasingly popular. Featured at MEDICA was, for instance, the "Everyman's Health Manager", a combination of different diagnosis apparatus - blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, heart rate variability - and specialist software. All devices can be connected via radio technology and a USB stick to the home computer where the data is then assessed. The system is not intended to replace visits to the doctor but provide information on general health and, where necessary, alert patients of a need to consult a doctor.
Increased health awareness as well as altered demands from patients largely explain the boom at MEDICA in the field of physiotherapy and orthopaedic technology with over 450 exhibitors. With innovative devices for physiotherapeutic treatment the focus of attention here is now increasingly not just on rehabilitation - for instance after accidents or operations - but also on prevention. Sport centres are, for instance, now progressively extending their range of services to include medical consultation and treatments with the help of relevant experts so they can offer their customers holistic solutions for a healthy lifestyle and improved mobility.
Further trend themes at MEDICA 2006 include innovations in the field of pacemaker technology, with, for instance, a new pacemaker with an in-built water-level sensor that acts as a warning system for life-threatening water blockages in the lungs caused by cardiac insufficiency as well as new generation of devices for medical imaging. An example of the latter is modern ultrasound equipment which makes it possible to see even the most intricate inner structure of organs like changes in the interventricular septum of the heart. This also makes it easier to diagnose tumours more precisely. Also at the centre of interest: compact laboratory equipment and diagnostics for immediate diagnosis right at the patient's bed or in the doctor's surgery.
Once again, MEDICA was also able to confirm its role as a trendsetter in the field of medical information and communication technology with 420 exhibitors offering ranges in this area. Over 38.000 trade visitors were interested in this segment. Top themes include so-called "Enterprise Resource Planning" software to control and link administrative and medical procedures in clinics. Information was also provided on numerous new telemedicine applications for the efficient remote monitoring of chronically ill patients, as well as on soft- and hardware to link up clinics and out-patient care units. Another IT topic - and one also picked up in the forums MEDICA meet.IT and MEDICA MEDIA - was the soft- and hardware required for the forthcoming introduction of electronic health cards.
The MEDICA Congress programme once again offered a wide range of topics tailored to the many areas of interest of the individual medical professions. Gerd G. Fischer, General Secretary of MEDICA - German Society for the Promotion of Medical Diagnostics (MEDICA Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Medizinischen Diagnostik e. V.), was able to report on some of the highlights generating particularly great interest amongst the trade audience: "Topics like oncology, geriatrics as well as rare diseases were in great demand. And it seems medics now also have their own health more in mind. Burn-out prevention for physicians was also very popular."
Around 1400 congress delegates from all fields of the health sector were informed at the 29th German Hospital Conference on topics ranging from the general "Competition and Performance Results - What the Future holds for Hospitals" to strategic and health policy issues. "Greater performance results require optimisation of resources and procedures in hospitals. The Hospital Conference offered practical, hands-on seminars on this", stated conference President Prof. Dr. Hans-Fred Weiser pointing out how clinics are now working both more economically and more efficiently despite continued increases in costs and expenditure. While clinics treat an average of 17 million patients on an in-patient basis year on year, the number of clinic beds, he said, has been cut since the start of the 1990s by 20 percent (160.000 beds).
Running concurrently with MEDICA, ComPaMED in Hall 8 of the exhibition centre was able to sharpen its profile as the leading international trade fair for upstream supplies in medical production. The stands of the approximately 320 exhibitors were busy with trade visitors right from the start (9500 of the 137.500 in total). No wonder, as the audience primarily consisting of managers, product developers and buyers from the medical technology industry as well as retailers were given impressive proof of the great development potential of their suppliers featured at ComPaMED.
Forming a particular focus of the fair were new approaches and solutions from the field of nanotechnology and microsystems and the "Hightech for Medical Devices" forum co-ordinated by the Retail Association for Microtechnology (Fachverband für Mikrotechnik e.V. IVAM). From high-precision sensors and new surface structures for medical implants to skin-compatible materials for use in medical products - ComPaMED exhibitors had the relevant solution to hand.