The healthcare landscape is rapidly evolving. The increasing number of devices moving out of traditional hospital settings, new devices being created specifically for at-home settings, and the shift towards value-based home care, brings inevitable demands for a more personalized experience, an understanding of how the device is used in the real world by patients and the requirement for real-world evidence. Medtech companies are responding by adding connectivity to their devices. But this is just the starting point.
To truly unlock the potential of connected medical devices to have a meaningful and transformative effect in this changing healthcare space, medtech companies must go beyond providing just a connected device. They need to deliver a complete digital health solution that makes a real difference to patient experiences and outcomes. By doing so, they can deliver real value to their end users and create a sustainable business model that will evolve over time.
So where to start? Is a digital health platform a path to accelerate innovation?
To deliver digital health solutions around a medical device, many aspects need to be considered, and finding the most efficient and effective way to deliver them will be key to a company’s success. This is where a digital health platform comes in. By leveraging the pre-built functionalities that a platform should provide, medtech companies can focus their time and resources on the innovative aspects of the solution that will make an impact on operational efficiencies, clinical effectiveness, patient experience, and healthcare outcomes.
But it all starts with device integration and finding the best and most secure way to do this. Digital health platforms can be used to seamlessly integrate various devices that cater to specific use cases into an overall digital health solution. They also provide the capability to interface with 3rd party systems to fit into clinical workflow and allow fast and reliable integration with relevant partners.
With the shift from creating devices that are rarely changed to developing devices that require continuous updating, a platform can become an asset in a medtech company’s toolkit as they navigate the regulatory and cybersecurity requirements that come with this. Platforms ensure that solutions are not only built but also operated and maintained in accordance with evolving regulatory and cybersecurity requirements. They should also manage obligations such as those set out in 524B of the FD&C Act, which requires the developer to be able to monitor, identify, and address post-market cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exploits.
The changing healthcare landscape and where healthcare is delivered brings with it the need to shift from managing fewer devices in set locations to managing a larger number of devices in many more locations, with less predictable environments, potentially expanding across multiple regions and jurisdictions. Platforms can offer effective methods of managing a fleet of connected medical devices, facilitating their discovery, tracking, and status tagging in real time. This enables medtech companies to deliver technical support for patient devices and even predict maintenance requirements based on failure patterns identified over time. Additionally, remote configuration and control of devices, assigning them to patients, processing device data, performing over-the-air firmware updates, and managing device recalls can all be carried out easily and securely via a digital health platform.
Extending value beyond the device and creating impactful digital health solutions
Connectivity, integration, and device management are the first steps. Medtech companies then need to think strategically about what comes next. Once connected, the focus should shift to extending value - beyond the device. The device should become the central point from which truly innovative digital health solutions are built; solutions that can be tailored to address specific patient and disease needs, deliver improved clinical efficiencies, fully realize device potential, and that can transform the healthcare landscape.
Patients using medical devices have seen the impact of digital transformation in other areas of their lives and increasingly desire a similar experience when it comes to their healthcare. They want digital solutions that integrate into their daily lives and empower them to take an active role in their healthcare, providing them with the tools to help manage their behaviors and conditions, and the ability to collect data that can be used by their care teams to create personalized care plans.
For these solutions to become part of their everyday lives, providing patients with an optimal experience is crucial. It’s also equally important to comprehend how they interact with the solution and what sort of support they require. By utilizing a platform, medtech companies can benefit from pre-built components that deliver best practices when it comes to UX, supporting user engagement, and delivering digital health services to be utilized in user-facing solutions.
Beyond improving patient experiences, medtech companies can also utilize a platform to develop digital health solutions that create significant clinical efficiencies. Platforms can help integrate a solution seamlessly into an existing EHR workflow and provide insights to clinicians which are evidence-based, actionable, and easy to consume. Additionally, the ability of platforms to configure pre-developed digital care pathways can allow care teams to monitor patient’s progress against their prescribed regimen and deliver tools for the identification of instances when additional support may be required and provide timely interventions.
As patients and clinicians become more engaged with a solution, more data is generated. Medtech companies need to find the best way to collect and organize data obtained from a solution, in accordance with regulations that can vary across multiple jurisdictions. Platforms should provide the functionality to address this significant challenge, ensuring that data is organized, presented, and possible to leverage in a compliant manner. The data gathered can generate valuable insights that support patients and their care teams during the treatment journey, enabling the creation of therapy or disease-specific information models that ultimately allows medtech to make improvements to the device itself, and healthcare outcomes.
The medtech company can use the data generated from patients’ experience of using the device in the real world to train and verify new algorithms or update existing algorithms, to ultimately improve the patient experience and enhance the device's long-term value.
Using a digital health platform helps accelerate medtech's development of connected devices and digital health solutions, ensuring that the fundamentals are taken care of in the most efficient and compliant way. But the true value of a digital health platform lies in extending value beyond the device and helping medtech create impactful digital health solutions that can transform their overall offering and make a meaningful impact on the delivery of care.
To discuss this topic in further detail, or to find out more about how we developed our own digital health platform, Affinial, to help medtech create innovative digital health solutions, get in touch with us today.