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Aging Population Pressures Medtech Industry to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

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From C-suite executives to policymakers, the global medical technology industry will convene next week in Boston for AdvaMed2012. During this premiere medtech conference, key leaders and stakeholders will take the pulse of the industry to evaluate the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Changing demographics across the world are profoundly impacting players in the medtech industry, tasked with improving care and reducing costs amid a rapidly evolving healthcare environment.

Given the trends in declining birthrates and rising life expectancies, populations worldwide are graying at a dramatic rate. By 2050, 25 percent of individuals in the Western world will be over the age of 65, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Global Aging Initiative. Meanwhile, the elderly will represent more than one-third of the populations in Japan and some European countries such as Germany by mid-century.

Whether heart stents to restore blood flow through blocked arteries or injectable devices that deliver insulin to manage diabetes, the demand for advanced medical technologies will reach unprecedented levels. Pressured by budgetary concerns in an uncertain economy, caregivers, governments and healthcare organizations will feel the strain to meet the diverse needs of patients.

However, just like the human body, the healthcare industry is incredibly responsive, and has adapted to economic constraints by emphasizing innovation and efficiency. The opportunity then, in such a highly regulated industry, is to employ skilled talent and fuel the advancement of new technologies.

At the heart of the global medtech industry is Ireland, whose forty-year track record in excellence is recognized internationally. With 15 of the top 20 medtech companies located in the country, the medtech industry has found a trusted base for medical research, development and production.

Essential for establishing this trust is the brainpower of the Irish people, who offer a breadth of technical and managerial talent, and are ranked first for their flexibility and adaptability, according to the IMD World Competitive Yearbook. The availability of specialists in a range of functions such as materials engineering and medical devices has helped to position Ireland as the largest hub of medtech production, outside of the U.S.

The 250 medtech companies in Ireland provide services and equipment that ultimately touch and treat people across the globe. For example, Ireland is responsible for 80 percent of all global stent production, 50 percent of ventilators used in acute hospitals worldwide and 33 percent of all contact lenses manufactured. Additionally, 30 million people with diabetes rely on an injectable device made in Ireland.

The orthopedics and diagnostics sectors are also experiencing year-to-year growth as demand rapidly increases and the operations of multinationals continue to expand. Such growth further highlights the significance of Ireland to the global medtech stage.

Ireland is well-positioned to meet the future needs of the medtech industry. With its favorable regulatory environment, it has attracted some of the most reputable medtech companies in the world. Additionally, this environment has made achieving approvals of complex medical devices and technologies commonplace. Medtech companies based in Ireland operate to the highest international quality standards, in accordance with European, U.S. and Japanese regulations.

As industry leaders gather in Boston during the AdvaMed2012 conference in search of solutions, Ireland will be top of mind as a location of choice to best serve an industry poised to impact the lives of individuals across the world.