Deloitte: Interoperability hindered by lack of incentives in private sector

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Major advancements in technology have led to a significant increase in the number of innovative healthcare solutions that generate, collect, and analyze data, but a new report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions warns that the lack of interoperability continues to be a stumbling block in the development of a digitally enabled ecosystem.

Looking at the impact of connected medical devices on patients, professionals and the life sciences industry, experts said this has created the Internet of Medical Things (IoT), which they defined as a “connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications and health systems and services.”

According to research firm MarketsandMarkets the global IoMT market will grow from $41 billion in 2017 to more than $158 billion by 2022, with more than 13,000 medtech patents reportedly filed globally last year.   

While North America accounted for the biggest IoT market share in 2017 ($13.3 billion), and Europe came up second ($12.4 billion), the third biggest market, Asia-Pacific, is predicted to grow at the highest rate, from $11 billion in 2017 to $51 billion in 2022, because of “the level of unmet need” and increasing number of hospitals being built in the region.

But experts noted that interoperability remains “arguably the biggest challenge for medtech” due to the security challenges usually associated with information sharing and a “lack of incentives” to drive interoperability efforts in the private sector.

In addition to other recommendations, they urge life sciences and healthcare stakeholders to work toward a unified platform for sharing of clinical data and to implement uniform messaging standards for health and care data.

Interoperability is a “shared responsibility” dependent on collaboration with health and care providers, the researchers added.

However, a survey carried out by Research2Guidance on behalf of Deloitte including 237 respondents from medtech companies in April 2018 found that more than 75 percent of interviewees thought they were ‘reasonably well’ or ‘very well’ prepared to develop interoperable devices, including software systems.

“This high degree of confidence may be due to the fact that these companies are actively dealing with interoperability challenges,” the experts say.

To realize the full value and potential of the IoT, Deloitte also warned that the industry will need to develop new funding, business and operating models, build public trust to ensure that the growing amount of data generated is “protected and responsibly used,” and tackle increasing cyber threats: 

“Although new technologies and government initiatives to improve cybersecurity are on the rise, the value of patient data is increasing as well, and with it, the amount of cybercrime.”

If these challenges are addressed, Deloitte said the medtech industry could help “alleviate some of the cost, access and care coordination challenges” that healthcare is currently facing.

This article originally appeared on Healthcare IT News sister site the British Journal of Healthcare Computing. 

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