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The medical equipment sector is characterized by a large share of overall health budgets spent for the provision of capital investment goods such as medical scanners and radiotherapy units. A high variability in provision and utilization rates of medical equipment can be observed too. The objective for this study was to contribute to effective cross-border cooperation between European Union (EU)-Member States by pooling resources for high-cost medical equipment investments (1).
Potential cost-intensive and highly specialised medical equipment, where cross-border investment resource pooling may be recommended, were identified by a combined evidence search and expert consultation. An efficiency assessment of medical equipment potential savings for EU-countries was done by a benchmark-approach and a best-practice-approach. Furthermore six examples for cross-border cooperation were investigated and two surveys have been conducted.
The following medical equipment can be considered as cost-intensive and highly specialized across EU-Member States: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, Stereotactic systems and Surgical robots.
The efficiency assessment using the benchmark approach was performed for MRI, CT scanners, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners, Angiography units, Gamma cameras and Lithotriptors. The results of the best-practice approach showed potential cost savings due to under-or overutilization per device group and EU-Member State. However, as this analysis offers a view on health systems on a very macro level it was not possible to give detailed insights at the country-level.
The six selected cross-border examples demonstrated a wide variety of options regarding the structure, extent and organization of cross-border cooperation: Five of six cross-border examples were cooperation close to the border, in four of six examples EU funds played an important role.
The study highlighted that cross-border cooperation in the field of cost-intensive/highly specialized medical equipment could bring economic advantages for many EU-Member States. Despite this, still only little is done by EU-Member States in terms of cooperation. Reasons are diverse and can be ascribed to lacking information, differences of national health systems, organizational and administrative hurdles, and lacking political support.
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