Guest Blog by Dr Michelle Tempest, Partner at Candesic, Health & Social Care Consultancy
Despite MedTech being central to the future of healthcare, digital implementation often struggles to get into the top 3 priorities of stakeholders who have to contend with A&E four hour targets, delayed transfers between care settings, chronic staff shortages and a savings gap of over £22bn. For those who have invested in a radically changed IT system, such as Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge (who imported the EPIC system from the US) it did not offer immediate success and instead toppled the heads of the CEO and CFO of the NHS trust.
In November 2014, the Government highlighted four elephants in the room that hold back IT healthcare progress:
1) Too much bureaucracy
2) Lack of accountability
3) High cost
4) Concern over data security
However, perhaps there is a fifth elephant? The mother of all the others: the need for pro-active MedTech procurement. Linking IT from home to hospitals is key to unlocking future healthcare. Failing to get systems to communicate with each other is the nail in the coffin for any promising UK MedTech industry.
Reviewing current and developing MedTech products in terms of the ‘home to hospital pathway’ it is clear that there are eleven distinct markets (Fig.3). Taking this a step further and individually analysing over 300 different technologies, less than 1% of products the ability to communicate up and down the care pathway (Fig.4). This lack of inter-operability is an immediate snag to current IT procurement, whose job it is to create integrated and technology-enabled, linked care systems.
Thus far procurement has oscillated between top down command and control national arrangements, to bottom up ‘letting a thousand different flowers bloom’. The analogy is that procurement has tried and failed with forced marriage and failed on random selection. So, perhaps it is time for MedTech procurement to be brought into the modern age that it aims to inhabit? One way help navigate and improve procurement would be for a match-making approach – a sort of ‘MedTech Tinder’. ‘MedTech Tinder’ could proactively use ‘intelligent digital matching’ which could learn to be better at matching than Cupid himself. Indeed such algorithms that match suppliers and consumers was initially the ‘market design’ of Nobel prize winning economists Al Roth and Lloyd Shapley. This method is no stranger in the clinical setting where Professor Roth’s best known example is the kidney exchange platform that matches donors and recipients which went onto increase the number of feasible life-saving operations. Any new MedTech Tinder matching platform could be as simple as A,B,C:
A. Accountable: account for all current IT/ digital/ MedTech systems across acute and community settings,
B. Bridge knowledge gap: bridge the information gap across NHS and social care and track progress on communication between systems, aiming to increase inter-operability,
C. Collaborative: highlight similar issues, proactively keeping purchasers and providers informed, matching innovators to problems and solutions to care organisations.
Such a ‘MedTech Tinder’ platform need not be expensive to implement and would highlight when a solution has already been acquired by one part of the health and social care system and the transparency would help keep costs down. The Five Year Forward View explicitly requested to unleash “energy and enterprise” and in parallel with high speed broadband and 4G services and Wi-Fi in all hospitals – the stage is set for such an advancement. So, to help MedTech find love this winter, ‘MedTech Tinder’ could prove to be the match made in heaven for the UK export MedTech market.
#Letsdoit #MedTechTinder #MedTechmatch