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Keeping it Fresh: Thoughts Behind Medica’s Continual Evolution (Part 1)

By Medical Product Outsourcing | 11.14.16

Messe Dusseldorf's managing director discusses Medica growth, program development.

Like the world itself, Medica has changed significantly since its inception 48 years ago. Exhibitor and visitor attendance has proliferated, and programming has evolved to reflect healthcare’s various trends and changes over the last four and a half decades. Show organizers, for example, debuted the European Hospital Conference in 2011 to help attendees better understand European healthcare policy and the impact of a patients’ rights directive on the continent’s clinics. The event’s Tech Forum, conceived in 2010, has progressed to encompass data protection/security, hybrid-OP, emerging export markets, and the European Medical Devices regulation this year. Similarly, apps and wearable technologies have become a regular part of the Connected Healthcare Forum, inaugurated just two years ago.
 
Even the event schedule is different, held now Monday to Thursday rather than Wednesday-Saturday. “The course of registrations is showing that the incredibly high level of participation seen in [2015] can be expected again, thereby indicating a high level of satisfaction among exhibitors with the new schedule,” said Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf. “The concentration of purchasing power is reflected at Medica by the visitors’ high level of decision-making competence as well as an increase of visitor numbers from non-medical fields such as hospital management and trade on a national and international level.”
 
A driving force behind many of Medica’s changes over the years, Schäfer spoke with Medical Product Outsourcing about the four-day event being held this week in Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as the overall medical technology industry. In the first a two-part Q&A, Schäfer addresses the show’s incredible growth and the strategies involved in developing the Connected Healthcare Forum.
 
Medical Product Outsourcing: How much has digital health technology expanded in terms of the number of exhibitors at the event?
Joachim Schäfer: This cannot only be attributed to the number of exhibitors, but also to the current issue of digitization. Digitization is affecting all aspects of care and all processes used to treat outpatients and inpatients. An example: Of the good 2,500 exhibitors from the medical-technology sector that have registered for the Medica show alone (total exhibitors: approximately 5,000), almost all are now focusing entirely on devices and systems that can be ‘networked’ with other devices across manufacturers and on how smooth communications with IT systems that already exist in clinics can be realized. The laboratory sector and the field of physiotherapy are also experiencing similar developments. The era of stand-alone devices has come to an end. Be it automatic laboratory units or fitness equipment: Health 4.0 means that these devices have started to communicate with each other. The data generated can be transferred via (wireless) interfaces to other devices, tablets and smartphones for processing and analysis by apps. This, in a nutshell, means that now practically everything has an IT side to it.
 
MPO: Are there any plans (or is there a need) to expand the Compamed portion of the event?
Schäfer: The combination of the Medica and Compamed events has proved itself and also sits well within the current weighting.
 
MPO: Is there any sector(s) seeing a decrease in size in terms of exhibitors?
Schäfer: The range of simple convenience articles and consumables that require no more than little explanation has declined. The laboratory equipment and clinic IT sectors are in some areas also experiencing massive concentration in both supply and demand. The number of market players has therefore decreased, and the remaining players have consequently been able to increase their market power.
 
MPO: What’s the fastest growth sector in terms of number of exhibitors at Medica?
Schäfer: The Medica trade show has developed very consistently in most of its featured areas. The field of physiotherapy and orthopedic technology has, however, been characterized by distinctive growth over recent years. The focus has fundamentally and increasingly shifted towards prevention and the recovery of physical fitness following injuries and illness. By the way, this is an area where—with the Medica Medicine & Sports Conference and the Medica Physio Conference—we have also shifted our focus within the accompanying programs to new and appropriate aspects, as is being demonstrated by the good attendance figures for these conferences.
 
MPO: The Connected Healthcare Forum made its premiere in 2014 and is now part of the overall event. To what do you attribute its success?
Schäfer: Networking is just such an important topic. How can those involved in healthcare be networked with each other in the interest of processes that are efficient and effective in the provision of treatment? This question has become a major issue across the globe, and it is going to be addressed in all its facets at Medica. This also applies to the solutions for smooth ‘collaboration’ among doctors, between doctors and patients as well as to fully automated data exchange—we only have to mention the 'Internet of Things' here—that are being presented at the Medica Connected Healthcare Forum.

Editor's note: Schäfer discusses the future of Medica and medtech in Tuesday's installment of this Q&A.