On and off I’ve been involved with, or I have been a mere observer of, new technologies trying to penetrate through the steel-laden-wall of the healthcare industry.
The story usually unfolds like this: a “promising technology” is touted as being the next best thing in healthcare, and in this new year we are going to have the hockey stick growth we have been anticipating and projecting. But, reimbursement is the key for our technology to take-off the ground, it’s the tipping-point. You might even hear the pitch of great friends in congress that are going to make it happen. So it goes.
That last “but” is what indicates that there has been an “awakening” that the technology is not being adopted “naturally” and it desperately needs “crutches” to get up and moving.
If this is a real case that you are dealing with then you might as well give up and hang your hat.
I’ve witnessed reimbursement dependent technologies shatter the dreams of many investors, CEOs and colleagues throughout the years.
Technology has to be adopted and not forced through nor require the reimbursement life vest.
Technologies that are adopted usually take years to overcome cultural barriers. Sometimes the technology gets adopted en masse throughout an evolutionary process and not a big bang approach. Cell phones took 3 decades to reach the point of smartphones as we know them today. I remember my first mobile phone was a Motorola DynaTAC, famously known as “the brick”, that I purchased in 1988, which came with a brief case to hold an extra battery, cables, large antenna and the charger. This phone had a big limitation: it would only work in the city where I lived and in a very small perimeter of it! If I traveled or moved out of the perimeter’s confinement it had no use. It was simply an expensive gadget.
Even if the technology is cool and it has a true awe factor but the only way it will get adopted is through reimbursement then you are pursuing and putting energy into the wrong product.
Most of the products that fledge depending on reimbursement have very little market growth and the market life-cycle is short. At the very least they go through a lot of trials and tribulations.
Just take a look at mammography computer aided detection, or mammo-CAD. Mammo CAD’s usefulness is still being questioned even after 14 years of having been approved by the FDA in 2002.
Many believe that we are throwing away money with CAD and that it’s being used only because it’s being reimbursed.
And there are studies indicating that its usefulness is questionable.
Telemedicine is one of the technologies that is falling under the “reimbursement trap”. I am reading over and over again that telemedicine is great “but” if only it were reimbursed by CMS and the private payers it would really take off.
So before we start pouring millions or billions into a technology that is not being naturally adopted, why don’t we use our efforts to support those that are being adopted and steadily growing year after year?