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Survey of Region’s MedTech Executives Finds Continued Concern with Medical Device Excise Tax: Affordable Care Act Shifts Focus from Doctors to Administrators

Medical device executives from across the region are not sure the influx of new patients using their devices and the promised sales boost expected from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will offset the costs of the ACA’s medical device tax, according to a new survey analysis released at MassMEDIC’s 18th Annual Conference on May 7. 

Only 8 percent of the respondents in the survey said they believe the jump in new patient sales will offset the device tax. 

Meanwhile, the study of 119 senior-level medical device executives also shows that there is a changing path to new device innovation—from one that was focused solely on doctors to one that is more focused on other key influencers. While executives cited in last year’s study stated that their innovation effort in developing new products and devices is primarily focused on doctors, this year executives indicate that who they focus their innovation on will shift and that patients are nearly as important as doctors (61 percent will be extremely focused on doctors in future innovation and 57 percent will be extremely focused on patients in future innovation). Additionally, executives indicate that they will focus more on hospital administrators, payers and policy makers than they do currently when it comes to future innovation. 

The study, conducted by Kadence International, also shows that fewer companies are reducing their workforce, but there are indications that the ACA may be pushing R&D spending lower by using more offshore labor. The survey indicates that regulation of the ACA and how well a company manages the new regulatory landscape is a key part of future success—even equally as important as their ability to successfully innovate. 

“Another year has now passed as the medical device sector learns to live under the new health care reform rules and impacts,” said Tom Sommer, president of MassMEDIC. “Our device companies, which contribute thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity to our state, have been doing the best they can under challenging circumstances,” he added. 

The survey examined current MedTech industry perspectives on the impact of policy changes contained in the ACA. Data for the study were collected through a 10-minute online questionnaire in March and April of 2014. 119 MassMEDIC members and industry colleagues completed the questionnaire, many of whom carry senior product manager, vice president of Marketing and vice president of Regulatory Affairs titles. 

“The nature of innovation is changing in the MedTech industry,” said Andrew Wilson, insight director at Kadence International. “The successful medical device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of the future will think differently about how they innovate; they will focus as much on innovating their business model to meet the demands of healthcare reform as they will on the products they manufacture.”