ReWalk Robotics has been a REHACARE trade fair exhibitor for several years. Ms. Ikanovic, how important is this event for the company?
Mela Ikanovic: REHACARE has been a key communication platform for our company since 2012. ReWalk Robotics has successfully showcased nearly all of its most important milestones – product launches, the first ReWalkers in Germany, other European countries and the USA, celebrating the first in a series of contracts with health insurers to cover the cost of ReWalk exoskeletons, our listing in Germany's National Health Insurance Agency's Medical Device Directory (MDD) – and shared these events at the REHACARE trade fair with all the respective stakeholders and participants. What makes REHACARE such a unique venue is the diversity of all participants and attendees. Participation is the key concept in this setting: REHACARE connects those who share their professional expertise to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, people who have care and support needs, the elderly, and those affected by chronic diseases. REHACARE facilitates the exchange of information and promotes better, effective communication and projects like no other event. This is owed to the experience and tireless efforts and commitment of the REHACARE organizers. Defining and staying on the cutting edge and always knowing what is important for all trade fair participants – a challenge that REHACARE accepts with competence and masters with ease.
Here is just one example of this: REHACARE was the first trade fair – in the world – to assign exoskeletons their very own product category, thus identifying and recognizing the significance of this advance in robotic technology. Exhibitors like us benefit from REHACARE as it creates the best opportunities to showcase and exchange information. It’s our duty as a company to honor this commitment.
Persons insured with German Statutory Health Insurers Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) and Deutsche Angestellten-Krankenkasse – Gesundheit (DAK-Gesundheit), and the German Social Accident Insurance provider (DGUV) can now obtain an exoskeleton system that’s covered under their policies if they are considered eligible. Why is this an important development?
Ikanovic: The German healthcare system is one of the oldest health insurance systems in the world, with origins dating back to the Middle Ages when craft guilds established funds to provide insurance benefits for their members. Back then, only 10 percent of the country’s population was insured. Today, Germany manages to cover nearly 100 percent of its residents. Germany has a reputation for having one of the best and most comprehensive healthcare systems in the world, a fact that was on clear display during the recent Coronavirus pandemic. The healthcare system’s success is based on four well-known basic principles. These principles also drive the reimbursement agreements for the ReWalk exoskeletons as outlined in the recently communicated contracts and services.
Our goal as a medical technology provider – to provide high-quality, transparent, and economical care solutions that meet the expectations of all parties – is clearly defined and structured via contractual obligations. Let me quote Thomas Bodmer, Board Member at DAK-Gesundheit, who responded to the negotiated insurance coverage for the ReWalk exoskeleton by stating, "The advantages of this highly innovative care concept have won us over. We are committed to the quality of this complex healthcare benefit. The contract addresses this aspect as it clearly specifies and regulates the collaboration between manufacturers, physiotherapists and orthopedic technicians in a medical device contract. In doing so, we guide patients on the optimal use of the exoskeleton."
As a company, we value the trust and confidence health insurance companies place in us to provide their insured members with the best care possible. We are committed to meeting their expectations and standards – always with the objective of providing the users of our technology with the best service and support. This is an important development because it clearly illustrates that the German healthcare system is carefully reviewing the effectiveness and benefits of this new medical device to incorporate it into its healthcare structures. In doing so, it continues to be a role model for other countries.