Updated AdvaMed Code of Ethics Emphasizes Education, Collaboration

Posted January 22, 2019

Addressing Complex Technology Challenges

The AAMI Foundation, though its National Coalition to Promote the Safe Use of Complex Healthcare Technology, is working with medical device industry representatives, nurses, physicians, human factors engineers, and other stakeholders to address the challenges of introducing complex healthcare technology to clinicians.

This two-year initiative, which launched in 2017, is building a repository of industry-leading practices that address selecting and purchasing complex technologies, educating and training clinicians, assessing proficiency, building a business case to improve clinician preparation, and product design and development.

The medical device trade association, AdvaMed, has approved an update to its code of ethics for healthcare technology companies that will go into effect in 2020. The new code emphasizes the importance of instructing, educating, and training healthcare professionals on the safe and effective use of complex healthcare technology and includes new sections focused on education and marketing programs, communication and technical support, and supporting third-party education and conferences.

“These updates continue to focus the industry on positive, necessary collaborations with physicians and other healthcare providers to bring the most effective and innovative care to patients around the world,” said Kevin Lobo, chairman and CEO of Stryker and chair-elect of AdvaMed, in a statement. “By helping ensure companies continue to focus on ethical business practices, the refreshed code reinforces the industry’s commitment to delivering expert care and building products that make a difference for healthcare professionals and patients.”

The AdvaMed Code of Ethics on Interactions with Health Care Professionals was developed to delineate “appropriate activity” between healthcare professionals and representatives of AdvaMed member companies by establishing roles and ethical, transparent behaviors. According to the code, healthcare professionals have a “first and highest duty” to their patients, and it is the job of healthcare technology companies to help them “meet this duty though necessary, collaborative actions.”

To that end, healthcare technology companies are tasked with providing education, training, and technical support to ensure that clinicians know how to best use the technology.

“Medical technology … often consists of complex tools, devices, and technology requiring highly dependent ‘hands on’ interactions with healthcare professionals from beginning to end,” the code reads. “Healthcare professionals require training on and an understanding of how to use these products in a safe and effective way.”

That includes having representatives explain a medical technology’s unique settings and technical controls, as well as working with healthcare professionals to make sure that the “appropriate range of necessary devices and accessories are available during a procedure, especially when dealing with medical technology that involves multiple devices and/or accessories.”

The code also encourages healthcare technology companies to promote patient access to technology by collaborating with healthcare professionals “to achieve government and commercial payor coverage decisions, guidelines, policies, and adequate reimbursement levels that allow patients to access its medical technologies.”

“These updates reflect evolving legal standards, care delivery models, and best practices over the last decade—since AdvaMed’s last code update in 2008—and are designed to ensure the code’s continued effectiveness as a premier foundational document for ethics and compliance across the medtech industry,” said Scott Whitaker, AdvaMed President and CEO, in a statement. “These revisions, which also enhance usability and reader-friendliness, reflect our industry’s continued commitment to ethics, integrity, and transparency.”