Wilhelm Niedergöker, Managing Director at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
The desire to stay healthy as long as possible has driven mankind since time immemorial. Innovative diagnostics and therapies ensure that this desire can be fulfilled increasingly frequently. Caught between patients' expectations, remunerative demands of medical care providers and the cost-cutting efforts undertaken by paying bodies, the medical profession constantly struggles for viable compromises yet the benefit of modern medical device technology is undisputed.

Especially in Germany, the most important European market, however, there is a very strong focus on the costs associated with the use of state-of-the-art medical equipment. This is why for several years now the domestic sales of German medical equipment manufacturers have been rather sluggish compared to their innovation-driven, booming export business posting annual growth rates of up to 8 percent.

However, most of the predominantly small and medium-sized businesses producing medical devices do not have distribution networks spanning the globe and therefore await their participation at MEDICA in Düsseldorf every year with feverish anticipation. Boasting approximately 4,200 exhibitors from 65 nations and attracting all in all over 137,500 trade visitors from more than 100 countries (40 percent from abroad), this is the world's largest medical fair. It gives exhibitors the opportunity to meet with investment decision-makers from throughout the world and to show off their own innovative power. At the same time, the high degree of international participation in MEDICA (which accounts for roughly half the booked exhibition space) shows that many foreign companies also expect promising business from the European market regardless of the health care policy restrictions.

Considering the outstanding position of MEDICA as a central information, communication and market platform catering to all needs in out and in-patient care it does not come as a surprise that forecasts for the 39th World Forum for Medicine (14 to 17 November 2007) are very positive.

With 117,000 m² the exhibition space reserved for MEDICA 2007 as well as for the concurrent COMPAMED 2007, the leading international trade fair for supplies for medical manufacturing (14 to 16 November/ 430 exhibitors from 31 nations) already exceed the final results of the previous year (115,000 m²/ 4,200 exhibitors). Demand remains high in all segments on display.

There is equally strong demand for exhibition space for international participations. Representing Europe it will be, above all, exhibitors from the Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark who will be flying their flags at MEDICA even more than in previous years. Brazil and Argentina are representative of the increased presence from South America, while attendance from Malaysia, India, China and Hong Kong is indicative of the growing interest from Asia. In terms of exhibition space Italy will be the strongest country participating after Germany, followed by China, France and the USA.

Complete spectrum of out and in-patient care themes covered
Themed in sync with the MEDICA Congress and the 30th Deutscher Krankenhaustag (German Hospital Day), the 39th World Forum for Medicine MEDICA 2007 will present the entirety of products, systems and services for out and in-patient health care: from medical device technology, to electrical medicine, laboratory equipment and diagnostics, physiotherapy products and from consumables to information and communication technology for health care facilities not forgetting interior furnishings and facility management. There is no other event worldwide that offers such a comprehensive and systematic overview of the latest products and trends.

This year's MEDICA programme will again include an extensive range of special shows that have now become firm fixtures like MEDICA MEDIA (Telemedicine/ Hall 16), MEDICA MEET-IT (User Forum for IT Solutions/ Hall 15), MEDICA VISION (Presentations of Research Institutes/ Hall 3) and the Physiotherapy Forum (Hall 4). Furthermore, it is expected that those focal themes covered by selected group participations (combining several exhibitors) will be on all trade visitors’ lips. In Hall 14, for example, the Fachverband Sicherheitssysteme im Industrieverband ZVEI (Product Division Security Systems in the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association) will be organising a joint stand with several of its member companies focusing on luminous call systems for the segment building services. At the same time, Bluetooth SIG (the non-profit trade organisation for such high-tech companies as Nokia, Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba) will be providing information on all aspects of Bluetooth applications in doctors' surgeries and hospitals (Hall 15).

Cost pressure and keen competition characterise demand and supply sides
In general, the market for medical products is characterised by keen competition among suppliers due to the principally positive future perspectives but also by a strong pressure on prices when it comes to demand from doctors' surgeries and clinics. The changeover to a DRG-driven billing system to be increasingly applied on an international scale, has also exposed hospitals in Germany to economic pressure. As a result, purchasing departments rather than health professionals are now increasingly in charge of buying at least the simpler medicinal products. There is a stronger focus on prices, benefiting many suppliers especially from the Asian region due to their lower manufacturing costs. After all, the German market remains an attractive one, if only because of its sheer volume. Here hospitals are synonymous with medical product requirements worth in excess of EUR 11 billion (out-patient facilities at approx EUR 7 billion/nursing care facilities at EUR 2 billion; Sources: BVMed, Federal Statistical Office, DKG).

In the meantime, even the more innovation-driven and less price-oriented enterprises have accepted the new health policy challenges. In view of the move towards integral systems and processes they are now focusing increasingly on the optimisation of treatment processes in their entirety thereby moving away from a purely product-centred and distribution-focused approach. So as to offer solutions for as many medical disciplines as possible, numerous providers have extended their product portfolios or entered into cooperative partnerships with smaller niche suppliers. At the same time, they are upgrading their after-sales services offering management consulting and tailor-made finance solutions.

Strong interest in medical IT
Here it comes as no surprise that MEDICA has now also gradually become a trendsetter for medical information and communication technology over the past few years. The required streamlining and control of administrative and medical care processes in clinics would not be feasible without the use of modern IT solutions. Examples of this are current developments in the area of tele-radiology. High-cost computer and nuclear spin tomography equipment is now available in almost every clinic. Often, however, there is a lack of (financial) resources to provide for a 24-hour stand-by service in radiology. This means that as a rule the staff for medical imaging is available but a physician is not always present to interpret these images properly. This is why cooperation in a network of clinics makes more sense. With stroke patients where every minute counts, for example, images can be transmitted via telemedical equipment to a radiology stand-by team at another hospital for diagnosis. This requires relevant investment in software and hardware, on the one hand, but also makes enormous savings possible, on the other. With stroke patients, for instance, it would be possible to mitigate serious symptoms and thereby cut rehabilitation costs.

This example shows the enormous potential for increased efficiency and improved patient care that can be leveraged through the use of modern IT in surgeries and hospitals. Which also accounts for the avid interest MEDICA visitors take in these topics. More than 38,000 trade visitors at the last MEDICA showed an interest in medical IT. 420 exhibitors presented relevant products, systems and services.

New products for health-conscious patients
The extended MEDICA ranges not only centre on innovations for medical imaging or compact devices for proximal (near-patient) laboratory diagnostics. There is also a special trend towards products patients can apply and also pay for themselves. In concrete terms this means diagnosis applications health-conscious or chronically ill patients can use to obtain a rapid "status report" of key physical parameters even without consulting a physician (e.g. blood pressure readings, weight/body-mass index readings, heart-rate variability). These systems are not meant to replace medical consultation but provide patients with information on their general state of health. They are, as a rule, also designed to automatically request patients to consult their physicians as soon as critical threshold levels are reached. To make remote health care for chronically ill patients less complicated at times telemedicine solutions are even linked with proximal diagnosis applications. A point in case is the market introduction of the first pacemakers/defibrillators that use radio technology to convey ECG readings to a telephone unit, from which the data can be transferred to the doctor in charge.

An increased level of health-consciousness and patients' altered demands also largely account for the boom experienced by MEDICA in the fields of physiotherapy and orthopaedic technology (represented most recently by over 450 exhibitors). With innovative devices for physiotherapeutic treatment growing importance is being attached to their preventive use alongside rehabilitation measures (e.g. after accidents or surgery). A growing number of sport centres are extending their service portfolios to include medical consultation and treatment services with the help of relevant experts so they can offer their customers total solutions, i.e. a healthy lifestyle and optimised operation of the locomotor system.

The aforementioned examples show: the market is in motion and MEDICA 2007 is guaranteed to have a host of interesting topics in store. In line with the current trends in the medical sector the trade fair and congress will hone in on relevant diagnosis, therapy and solution approaches presenting the products required for improved efficiency and quality in patient care.

Opening times and admission tickets will remain the same as last year. Tickets purchased via the online shop at http://www.medica.de come at a special discount price of EUR 15 (1-day ticket) and EUR 22 (season ticket). This means a discount of up to 50% over admission tickets purchased at the fair itself. What's more, admission tickets double as free travel passes on all public transport within the networks of the Rhein-Ruhr and Rhein-Sieg transport authorities.

Tickets grant admission to both MEDICA and COMPAMED and at the same time entitle holders to attend most of the events held as part of the MEDICA Congress (Congress Center Düsseldorf/ CCD. Süd). Attracting over 10,000 delegates to its last event and boasting a total of 200 seminars and courses involving over 600 internationally renowned speakers, this is the largest multi-disciplinary continuous medical education forum in Germany. Focal themes for 2007 will be: cardiology, oncology, metabolic disturbance and palliative therapy as well as neurological topics such as apoplexy, depression and dementia. In addition to the scientific seminars, workshop on business, organisational and legal matters will also offered.

The general heading for the 30th Deutscher Krankenhaustag (German Hospital Day) held concurrently at CCD. Ost will be "Shaping the Future". This event will address strategic, economic and health policy issues of special relevance to decision-makers in German clinics.

Unrivalled top event! How MEDICA became the No. 1 worldwide
MEDICA celebrated its premiere back in 1969 with 135 exhibitors and approx. 4,700 visitors. Last year saw 137,500 trade visitors attend the event to peruse the ranges of some 4,200 exhibitors from 65 nations.

Opening times for MEDICA and COMPAMED 2007: 10.00 am to 6:30 pm, on Saturday 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (MEDICA only).

For further information on the individual event components, on participating exhibitors and their products as well as prices go to: http://www.medica.de and http://www.compamed.de.