Current Barriers to the Implementation and Exploitation of Digital and MedTech Solutions in Europe

Current Barriers to the Implementation and Exploitation of Digital and MedTech Solutions

Projects working towards the development of digital and MedTech solutions are on its rise. However before starting to develop these new solutions, it is essential to understand the current landscape for their implementation and exploitation in Europe and to identify the most important barriers to be overcome. This type of solution may also allow the operation of alternative business models, such as the Data as a Service or DaaS business model that, instead of offering a product or service, offers data, which may be anonymized data or insights into such data. This approach involves barriers different to the traditional ones, which require their own analysis. In a talk at the annual ITEMAS conference in 2020, Josep Lluís Falcó, CEO of GENESIS Biomed, reviewed these barriers and explained how his analysis can help define a better sales and marketing strategy for digital and MedTech solutions.

First of all, the Spanish national healthcare system is heavily decentralized, as Spain has a total of 17 different health systems. This does not help a new solution gain market access from a commercial point of view. To successfully achieve market access, which is a challenging target, several barriers must be overcome associated with areas including fundraising, regulations, access, pricing, and reimbursement. And these barriers have to be faced at regional and hospital level, as well as nationally.  Moreover, several Information Technologies (IT) systems can coexist within one health system. One clear example is the Catalan healthcare system (CatSalut), which has approximately 29 different IT systems, making it difficult to develop and implement any IT based solution.

A wide variety of IT barriers are currently found in hospital settings: lack of proper IT connectivity (in both intra- and inter-hospital contexts); some hospitals lacking robust technological infrastructure; other hospitals with software systems unsuitable for the implementation of new solutions; a lack of interoperability between complementary systems; the current regulatory framework; resistance to digitization, and finally, most hospitals lacking sufficient financial resources to ensure the proper implementation of new MedTech and digital solutions.

All these barriers can negatively affect the sale and marketing of new solutions, as, although there are some hospitals well prepared for the implementation of a solution, others cannot ensure this. The territorial coverage of a solution can therefore be very limited. However, once the barriers are well identified, the solution, and its sales and marketing strategy can be developed to overcome them.

When defining a sales and marketing strategy it is crucial to identify possible competitors to the solution and find out how they are dealing with the barriers. It is also important not to simply map competitors who are already on the market, as pipeline competitors can turn out to be more of a threat. Moreover, it is key to understand the business models followed by these competitors. For example, digital, and MedTech solutions may deal with the challenge of exploiting data using a DaaS – a business model with enormous potential. However, the current legal framework, data protection confidentiality, data anonymization, and the need for a cultural change towards the acceptance of data sharing and the need to motivate patients to share their data are some of the barriers to be considered.

In conclusion, Europe needs to work towards providing better IT implementation, allowing new technologies to be fully exploited in the different hospitals of the European region. Legislation must also ensure a defined landscape for companies facing the challenging opportunity of using a DaaS business model. Finally, DaaS must be promoted in the Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Government (B2G) contexts with the ultimate aim of improving health in society through agreements with pharmaceutical companies, national health systems, and governments.