Publications DK: Horizon scan of medical technologies: Technologies with an expected impact on the organisation and expenditure of health care

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Denmark - A 2018 report by T. van der Maaden et al. available online


Medical technology is developing rapidly. Promising new technologies could offer benefits for the quality and organisation of healthcare. However, in practice innovations do not always fully match with medical and societal needs. Healthcare professionals, patients, health insurers, industry and the authorities all agree it is important to improve this. To achieve this, it is important that relevant stakeholders start to join forces already in early stages of development. This is a message from a ‘horizon scan’ of medical technologies performed by the RIVM at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports.

The ‘horizon scan’ identifies technologies with a potentially major impact on the society. eHealth, robotics to support care for the elderly, and the 3D printing of for example implants or of organ models to be used for the preparation of surgery, may offer major potential benefits. These technologies are expected to affect the organisation and costs of care, either in a positive or negative sense. The precise impact of these technologies is difficult to predict. 

Other technologies may also have major impact. Nanotechnology, for example, is considered a technology that enables other innovative developments, such as early diagnosis and treatment of cancer; personalised medicine (customized care) as a development that is enabled by promising medical technologies. In addition, non-medical technologies such as ‘big data’ and artificial intelligence can have major impact on healthcare. Bringing together stakeholders is the first, important, step to better connect technological possibilities with medical and societal needs. This may provide direction to developers of technology. It can also help healthcare organisations to take full advantage of promising medical technology.

Keywords: medical technology, horizon scan, medical needs, societal needs, healthcare expenditure, organisation of healthcare