Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) 2023: A changing dialogue
June 12, 2023
Sprinkled in between the large exhibit booths were all the smaller vendors — the entrepreneurs, the startups, and the more specialized companies with narrow product portfolios. These booths are always interesting to visit. Every year, there are dozens of new remote heart monitoring companies attending. These are the “feeders” of the industry — when more arrhythmias get diagnosed, more patients are treated for the condition.
Subtle but important shifts
Proliferation of new technology, introductions to new procedural methodologies, study after study about patient outcomes and technology, and lots of remote monitoring are all staples of the Heart Rhythm Society conference. But the dialogue is changing in electrophysiology, even if only a little bit. Here are a few observations I found interesting:
This year, Innovative Health had submitted a poster for presentation, and it was accepted. Many posters were accepted, so that is not in itself anything new, but Innovative Health’s poster was about the economics of electrophysiology, a topic that is almost never discussed at HRS.
HRS is about clinical and technological aspects of electrophysiology. How to pay for the technology has historically been taboo at HRS, and for good reasons: Every time a new technology is introduced (which, as mentioned, happens all the time in electrophysiology), it comes with a higher price tag than the last generation of the technology. So the cost of electrophysiology procedures just keeps going up year after year. At some point, unless reimbursement grows at the same pace, it is simply not profitable for hospitals to provide electrophysiology procedures. But this is not a discussion you want to have at HRS, where you are introducing more expensive technologies and selling the appeal to the physician.
This year, not only did Innovative Health get to present about how single-use device reprocessing can reduce the cost of devices used in electrophysiology procedures, but there were also several other poster presentations that looked at the economics of reprocessing. I think this is a great sign that physicians are beginning to get engaged in the financial sustainability of their practice. I also believe that this newfound engagement is caused by the reality that many electrophysiology labs are seeing declining profits of the service line, and physicians have been asked to change what devices or systems they use. Ultimately, if the electrophysiology lab isn’t profitable, the hospital will close the service line and the physician will have to find a different place to practice.
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