The European Health Technology Institute for Socio-Economic Research (Research Institute) was officially launched on 6 October 2007 at the European Health Forum Gastein, the most important annual health policy event in the EU.
Founded and funded by the European medical technology industry association (Eucomed) for an initial three-year period, the institute will bring together industry and the health departments of three European universities - Technische Universität Berlin, Università Bocconi and London School of Economics (LSE) - to conduct socio-economic research on the impact of medical technology.
Each university will be granted €200,000 a year, bringing the total budget of the institute to some €1.8 million. According to the consortium, researchers will "have complete scientific and editorial independence".
The aim of the institute is to "address the lack of evidence on the socio-economic value of medical technology to produce appropriate research and reputable evidence to raise the level of knowledge about medical technology and enhance prospects for informed policy decision making."
There are two main research topics. The first topic will examine how medical technologies are currently financed in major European countries and consider how existing financing systems could be improved.
The second will review the benefits of technological innovations in the healthcare sector. The aim is to provide evidence of, for example, improving quality of life and decreasing disability and mortality rates, as well as higher employee productivity or higher GDP output per worker.
"Current discussions on healthcare reforms mostly focus on the costs associated with medical innovation and technology, and how these can be contained," states the consortium press release.
Initial results of the research will be published in early 2008.