Science communication and the economic impact of health care were in focus at an industry event hosted by the medical technology industry.
Communicating Science and Medical Technology
A lecturer on the public understanding of science provided an overview of the evolution of science communication from the mid-1970s, explaining how it had been marked by an increasing pace of change and the increasing sense of danger that has come with the unpredictability of this change.
A media communications expert then explored ways in which science messages could be best conveyed to the public. In communicating complex technical issues, she underlined the need to provide a balanced message (between the issue’s technical aspects, broader relevance and the impact on humans). She concluded that science messages should focus on the ‘big picture’, as opposed to getting bogged down with technical details, and use understandable language (avoiding jargon).
Economic Impact of Health Care
A speaker from the World Health Organisation shared with the audience the conclusions of a report of by the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, published in December 2001. One of the main conclusions of this report is that “investing in people’s health is essential for the human and economic development of poor nations.” In Europe, health system policies should tackle health inequalities between different regions, especially in view of the EU enlargement process.
A German academic explored the economic effects of progress in medical technologies. The speaker described the three phases of medical progress (R&D or invention, innovation and diffusion) and underlined the importance of the innovation phase for Europe, which provides high-salaried positions. He pointed out that medical innovations lead to increased healthcare expenditure putting pressure on national cost-containment policies. The speaker pointed to the fact that health consumption slows down economic growth in Germany and France. Health care systems in Europe urgently need to be restructured in view of the continent’s ageing populations.