The Medtech markets in the USA, Japan, and Europe: Finding the differences

The US, Japan and the EU are the world’s largest medtech markets. Patients have comparable buying power and they can rely on a widely available and high quality healthcare (HC) system. At the same time, the markets differ substantially in regards to care provision culture and business dynamics.

Due to variations within procurement processes, negotiation approaches, decision-maker weightings, as well as distributor infrastructures and financing means, their regional market approach to purchasing medical devices and technologies is inevitably different.

In some aspects, they are widely different, whilst in others they are in fact quite similar. It is crucial to understand these clear or nuanced variations in order to access the market successfully. However, it’s fair to state that all countries have comparable patient buying power, quality and scope of healthcare infrastructure, and sophistication of clinical practices.

What does it take to truly understand the success drivers in these markets?

Below you will find some elements that can help medtech business managers to develop their go-to-market plans, position their brand, distribute their products, and beat the competition.

The insights are generated by the fusion of 4 expertise domains:

  1. 4-expertise-domainsClinical practice: Understanding clinical practices, care-provision culture and infrastructure.
  2. Technology: Knowing the availability and the admission of innovative medical equipment and technological alternatives.
  3. Market: Understanding the business and distribution landscape.
  4. Financing: Discerning the structure of the financing mechanisms and the power of the payers

Business intelligence efforts are particularly effective if they aim at the integration of all 4 of these domains.

So, let’s take a closer look at the US, Germany and Japan. In our comparative view, parameters such as demographical profiles, patient preference, surgical practice, etc., affect the market structure and dynamics, and lead to substantial differences in market sizes and characteristics within the 3 countries.

It is widely accepted that new technologies are responsible for rising health care costs as well as for improvements in clinical outcomes.

Research shows that there are substantial differences in how new products/techniques access and enter difficult markets, such as those in the US, Germany and Japan. Market studies have also clearly revealed, that healthcare providers who are actively involved in the development and the clinical trials of technologies, are much more likely and faster to adopt innovative products.

Equally different is the way they reach medical providers, and how the users adopt and integrate innovations in some countries more quickly than in others.

Highlights and conclusion

The main factors resulting in varieties in market access are:

  • The process to obtain reimbursement for product-use (e.g. the use of evidence of therapeutic benefit and/or costs to determine or update payment tariffs by HTA agencies).
  • DRG systems support or deter technology adoption, depending on the particular circumstances.
  • How often patient classifications are updated, and/or eventually the use of short-term intermediary/supplementary payments for new medtech is handled.
  • The complexity and length of the licensing and regulatory tracks.

The adoption and integration of new product and/or techniques depends on:

  • The training of the physician (as well as their involvement/exposure to clinical trials/new medtech)
  • Clinical practices at a national and hospital level
  • Reimbursement tariffs and payment structures
  • Hospital management and strategical focus

Download the full whitepaper

Whitepaper: Business Intelligence in difficult MedTech markets: Finding the differences in the USA, Japan and Europe

This TforG whitepaper explores the key domains for understanding country-specific healthcare (HC) structures, and what factors are determinant to shape, characterize and differentiate healthcare markets.

To facilitate this comparison we look at 3 strong HC markets; the USA, Japan and Germany.



TforG’s Business Intelligence and Market Domain Expertise

Founded in 1991, TforG Group provides business intelligence and decision support to international medtech businesses worldwide. Its unique focus is the medical devices and medical technology markets within a hospital context.

Our customers operate worldwide and face very different challenges in mature markets and high growth countries.

TforG specializes in understanding the various dynamics of nation specific medtech markets: how HC provisions are financed, organized, regulated and procured. Of particular interest is also understanding the processes and regulatory paths required for the introduction and market access of new technologies and innovations that are new to a given HC system. These are the keys to successfully introducing and integrating your product into a market, based on quantitative and qualitative market-focused investigations and analyses.

Another valuable asset in our service offering and in our database, are the insights of -and accessibility to- experts and Key Opinion Leaders, covering major pathologies (consisting of 3-5 experts/KOLs per pathology). Furthermore, our database provides a number of VIP contacts, such as policy makers and the Ministry of Health (which we visit face-to-face every 3-4 months). These contacts are working closely together with our regional field research teams and analysts, in order to generate in-depth investigations and a practical understanding of country-specific market dynamics, drivers, and trends.

About Bart Van den Mooter

Bart is the founder of TforG and works closely together with over 50 global companies such as Abbott, Baxter, GE, J&J, Medtronic, Philips, Stryker and Covidien. In this function, he spends a lot time with Key Opinion Leaders and Health Policy makers in Europe and in Emerging Markets. He graduated at the Polytechnic University of Leuven with a Master of Engineering and has an MBA (Flanders Business School).