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What Happened to Innovation?

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

I like new gizmos. I think most of us do, evidenced by the rocketing success of the Apples’ iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

These American products are taking over the world. Unfortunately, in medical technology, the trend is putting us behind the worldwide curve for the availability of innovative and exciting medical gizmos and medical technology in general. Price Waterhouse Cooper says this is a product of good, old-fashioned capitalism. American companies are seeking worldwide for medical solutions that can be marketed quickly and effectively. The fear of releasing products that are not approved by a government agency makes it hard for companies to market medical technologies.

Naturally, we’ll get the goodies eventually, and American professionals can be the last ones to get new technology, so American consumers could be the last to benefit from innovative gizmos and technology. It seems the increasing wealth in emerging nations and Europe is enabling these markets to pay the freight for the cool stuff.

Why is this so?

It’s simple, really. There’s a long history of medical technology being released in this country with negative effects, Medications like Ephedra (a base chemical for crystal methamphetamine, or speed) and Avandia for treating diabetes have their troubles, and Americans are frightened. Medication side effects, X-Ray or other electronic emission exposure, and gizmos manufactured and marketed with flaws have led to government intervention and a hyper-vigilant attitude toward medical innovation. This leads to more testing and a slower release curve, which looses time that can instead be spent marketing the product in other countries. Evidently, the rest of the world is not as careful (fearful?) of things going wrong as Americans are.

Combine this with the idea that the rest of the world is getting rich enough to afford new medical technology, and it’s easy to understand why the rest of the world is getting access to gizmos and medications before us.

In mental health and addictions, gizmos may be less of a factor than with other health concerns, like deteriorated knees that can now be replaced with artificials, however consumers can still benefit from technology, mostly in the area of diagnosis, like with brain scans.

It’s hard to tell what other technology can benefit mental health and addictions treatment when we aren’t clairvoyant, and still, it’s on the way. I guess the point of this meandering discussion is that as Americans, if we’re seeking a new solution to our mental health or addiction problems, technology may be on the way, however, in order to use it, we may need to take a European vacation. Provided we could overcome the fear of side effects and make the bold move to seek offshore solutions, the manufacturer of the gizmo would be happy, and we might end up with improved mental health.

This brings another factor to light…will insurance cover solutions a consumer seeks outside the United States, like use of a gizmo to bombard some brain malfunction that leads to depression or anxiety with newly discovered, healing electronic emissions? I bet they’d want to wait till the item was approved by the government for use in the United States (by the way, I made up this example).

If you’re intrigued about the prospect of an offshore solution to a mental health problem, keep your eyes open and keep surfing the web for new, innovative technology that’s becoming available elsewhere in the world. It’s a good idea to know what we’re getting into when we make bold moves, so check with your insurance company to understand who’s paying the bill, and understand possible side effects of any new treatment.

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