"Flying your flag, presenting convincing innovations, intensifying networking: These are the means of choice for companies to demonstrate strength in a challenging market environment. MEDICA and COMPAMED, with their international appeal and the visitor´s high degree of decision-making authority, offered the best opportunities for this", says Erhard Wienkamp, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf, underlining the prominent role of both events as platforms for the global healthcare business. More than 80 percent of all trade visitors are significantly involved in important business decisions in their companies and institutions.
Among the top decision-makers who visited MEDICA 2022 was, for example, German Federal Minister of Health Prof. Dr. Karl Lauterbach. He took part in the opening event of the 45th German Hospital Day and outlined the key points of the planned hospital reform. Also among the MEDICA guests were H.E. Prof. Ron Prosor, Ambassador of Israel, Mona Neubaur, Minister of Economics of North Rhine-Westphalia and, among others, the Consuls General of Japan and the USA, Setsuko Kawahara and Pauline Kao.
"Cooperation and communication are drivers of the industry"
In a dynamically changing market environment, medical technology companies are relying more than ever on cooperative ventures – both in terms of production, marketing, sales and after-sales services – in order to be able to reliably offer customised solutions for hospitals and outpatient care across national borders. For these reasons, MEDICA is virtually predestined as a starting point for international business, as Yvonne Glienke, Managing Director of the medical technology network Medical Mountains, emphasises: "MEDICA is an important platform for us and the companies in our network to expand contacts and find partners for joint projects. Both aspects come together at the MEDICA TECH FORUM. Here, for the first time, we were able to contribute our expertise alongside the industry association SPECTARIS and also organise a networking evening. Cooperation and communication are the driving forces to advance the medical technology industry."
The forum, jointly organised by the industry association SPECTARIS and Medical Mountains, provided an overview of medical technology topics that are of particular relevance today. Among others, the sessions on aspects of product approval, certification issues or market peculiarities in relation to selected country markets such as the UK, Norway or China were very well received by the MEDICA audience.
The strong interest in this is not surprising. According to the latest SPECTARIS figures, the German medical technology industry generates two-thirds of its sales in the export business. The German Health Alliance (GHA), a broad-based initiative with members from industry, logistics, research, the banking sector and NGOs, has also set itself the goal of boosting this business. Heike Lange, member of the GHA management board, points out that MEDICA offers the best conditions for achieving these objectives: "MEDICA, with the participation of numerous international exhibitors, offers a good opportunity for GHA member companies to meet international cooperation partners, whether as visitors or while participating as exhibitors. This combination often results in expanded opportunities for cooperation, especially with regard to the export-oriented companies among our members.”
Focus on digitalisation – innovations for smart processes
The following can be summarised with regard to the abundance of innovations presented and the topics intensively discussed in the specialist forums or accompanying conferences: Covid is an unchanged "perennial" topic. Not least as a result, the digitalisation of healthcare has become an even greater focus in almost all countries. And a strained personnel and cost situation among service providers is driving product development toward innovative solutions for smart processes.
In the context of the Covid pandemic and the increasing trend towards outpatient treatments in healthcare, products and services for the point of care, i.e. for patient-oriented diagnosis and treatment, remain in high demand. With the title "COVID-19: The Challenge Remains", the MEDICA LABMED FORUM provided a fitting medical perspective and bridged the gap in terms of content. Current challenges were discussed, based on ever new virus variants, and the need to improve both diagnostics and therapy (keyword: vaccine development) to be adjusted accordingly. Detection of new viral variants, immunity testing using antibody and T-cell assays and approaches to developing a universal COVID-19 vaccine were among the topics the contributions focused on.
Meanwhile, the "booster" for the digitalisation of healthcare and the demand for smart processes benefits the (digitally driven) start-up scene. During the days of the trade fair, they were offered a variety of options to present themselves. The MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM as a dialogue platform on digital health trends with integrated pitch competitions especially for start-ups as well as the MEDICA START-UP PARK as a large joint booth with again about 40 companies are worth mentioning. The competition for the 11th MEDICA START-UP COMPETITION, which annually focuses on outstanding digital innovations, was won in the final pitch by the start-up IDOVEN from Spain with a cloud-based, AI-supported platform for ECG analysis.
Artificial intelligence and robotics with practical benefits
The portfolio of other innovations presented by start-ups at MEDICA 2022 ranged from a palm-sized system for wireless monitoring of the unborn, ultrasound heads with special contour-fitting capabilities, to other numerous solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI), such as for the precise diagnosis of neurocognitive disorders based on eye movements or the simplified keeping of electronic medical records.
Speaking of help for medical personnel: During MEDICA 2022, researchers at Fraunhofer IPA presented a system for patient anamnesis during admission to clinics that will no longer require the immediate presence of medical staff. Sophisticated sensor technology ensures the automatic recording of vital data, and an avatar assists in questioning the patient. The trend toward automated processes is also confirmed by Axel Weber, Vice President Sales Medical Robotics, KUKA Deutschland GmbH (Robotics Division): "MEDICA is the largest medical technology trade fair in the world. We participate in the fair because it is the ideal platform for us to present our innovative technologies. With our robotics, we are shaping the medical technology of tomorrow. One trend is the increase of more autonomy in systems in medical technology. In the future, these will be able to perform more and more tasks independently thanks to numerous sensors and supported by artificial intelligence. This is already the case in rehab, for example. In the future, though, we'll see it more and more in surgery."
Golden health tips from winning Olympians
During all fair days, visitors were able to meet victorious Olympians – not only in the form of virtual avatars but also live: Heike Henkel, Olympic high-jump champion, and Lars Riedel, Olympic discus throw champion, were the focus of lively interest at the MEDICA SPORTS HUB – a new action area in the middle of the physiotherapy theme segment. In short presentations and supplemented by small exercises to participate in, the focus was on tips & tricks for healthy training, proper nutrition, team success or aspects of mental health. On these topics, Heike Henkel and Lars Riedel were able to report not only from their wealth of experience as sports professionals, but also from their current active lives. As a certified mental coach, Henkel advises competitive athletes, while Riedel is a passionate golfer. On every day of the trade fair, he invited visitors to participate in a special golfer's warm-up with regard to establishing the perfect rotation of the body. As a sought-after brand ambassador in the medical sector, Riedel knows MEDICA well: "It's always exciting here to see how products and technology evolve."
Subcontracting: Cutting-edge know-how for cutting-edge technologies
In many cases, an important foundation for top performance using cutting-edge technologies (e.g., for vital data acquisition) is provided by the approximately 700 companies presenting themselves at COMPAMED in Halls 8a and 8b. They provide the medical technology industry with a complete range of high-performance components and digitalised solutions, such as sensors, batteries, chips, biocompatible and ultra-tight coatings and radio modules for mobile diagnostic devices (including wearables), implants and laboratory equipment. Microfluidics is currently a particularly popular topic and was therefore the subject of two well-attended program sessions at the COMPAMED HIGH-TECH FORUM held by the IVAM trade association. The handling of liquids in the smallest of installation spaces is significant for laboratory medical test procedures and, as a result of the Covid pandemic, has been the focus of sustained attention.