"In its 2004 Human Development Report, the United Nations estimated that of earth's 6.1 billion people, 4.9 billion live in lowresource developing nations, while the remaining 1.2 billion live in high-resource developed nations. This means that the potential market for medical technologies in developing nations is about five times larger than that in developed nations. However, the majority of medical device developers and manufacturers are located in, and primarily serve, developed countries and they are largely unaware of how to overcome the many barriers, from fi nancial to technical, to making these devices available in developing nations.

According to WHO, for a variety of reasons, 70% of the medical devices originating in developed nations cannot be used in most developing nations. The unavailability and dysfunctional quality of medical devices in poor countries is a significant public health problem. Although globally, public health officials have become increasingly experienced and effective in responding to the disease burden in developing nations, engineers have yet to roll out medical devices that are designed specifically for use in these nations.

Recognizing how different trends in medical technology can affect health outcomes requires an awareness of the differences in health-care needs and health-care delivery capacity between developed and developing countries. Based on more than 40 years of collective experience advising hospitals and healthcare providers on health technology issues, it is anticipated that over the next 10 to 15 years, several trends in medical technology will significantly influence patients' access to health care and the way that health care is delivered. In particular, the convergence of medical devices and information technology (IT) is likely to result in the development of a number of technological health-care innovations in the future.

A striking example that is already emerging is the area of electronic medical records (EMRs), which, through the integration of medical devices and IT, will be able to store and transmit data gathered electronically from clinical notes, diagnostic equipment, patient monitoring systems, alarms and other sources via computer networks. It is significant to note that the content of this paper was initially developed from a United States perspective, and may or may not be directly applicable to different contexts. However, the diffusion of new health technologies and the trends described in this paper may be more relevant for informational purposes, to gauge some recent developments."

Source: WHO, 2010.