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Saving money, improving lives – investing in medical innovation is a smart budget decision

From our nation’s capital to state houses to all of our kitchen tables, the cost of health care and health care delivery are important conversations.

While there are many opinions on the best way to address the health care challenges we face locally, nationally, and globally, life science innovation may be our best bet for bending the cost curve down today and promises even greater savings in the future.

Here in Arizona we have multiple teams working on innovations that will do just that. Here are a few examples:

• TGen, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, is focused on genomic generated information, which provides a greater understanding of the underlying biological defects associated with a particular disease or disorder. Researchers at TGen are discovering and developing solutions that can provide data-driven decisions to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, thus lowering the overall cost of treatment and improving life for affected patients and their families.

• Since 1974, Arizonans at Medtronic’s Tempe campus have been developing and manufacturing the internal components for many life-saving medical devices. Among the newest technology being produced in Arizona are key sensors in state-of-the-art insulin pumps, which help diabetics better manage their care. This FDA-approved medical device measures blood glucose levels via the sensor and then automatically dispenses just the right level of insulin the patient needs. This technology not only enhances quality of life for many with diabetes, it also reduces costs to our health care system. Pump therapy helps patients avoid costly trips to the emergency room and reduces their risk for debilitating or life threatening complications such as kidney failure, blindness or amputations. In fact, the cost of one amputation and the associated rehabilitation services is comparable to the total cost for providing insulin pump coverage for the entire AHCCCS adult population. And this calculation does not even take into consideration the additional benefits to the health of the patients or the 3:1 federal match!

• The Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium has gained international acclaim for the work they are doing both in developing new models for patient care and in discovering and developing new treatments to allow us to better manage or even prevent Alzheimer’s.

• Arizona’s universities and community colleges are leading the way with programs that prepare Arizona’s workforce to create and deliver future heath innovations, researchers who collaborate with industry to discover, develop, and deliver new products and services that will allow us to meet today’s health care needs. They are working with key leaders across our health care community to insure that we have the bioinformatics systems that will provide for more accurate and more cost-effective health decision making.

In the 2015 budget, Arizona is taking steps forward with new investments in this area that will benefit our citizens and our economy thanks to the commitment of both the Legislature and the governor.  As Arizona’s bioindustry, we are committed to create new innovations and with their ongoing support we can bend the healthcare cost curve and make life better across our state.

— Joan Koerber-Walker is president & CEO of AZBio.

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