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74% of UK and Ireland MedTech companies struggle with interoperability

Almost three-quarters of MedTech companies in the UK and Ireland (74%) struggle to make their data compliant with the interoperability requirements of healthcare IT systems, new research by InterSystems reveals.

In-house skills shortages are revealed to be the biggest difficulty with interoperability for more than a third of the 100 MedTech companies surveyed (35%). Almost one-in-four respondents (38%) say achieving interoperability cost-effectively is one of the severest barriers to the growth of their business. Nearly half (47%) say frequent changes to data standards cause them significant problems.

The research was conducted among 100 senior figures at MedTech companies in the UK and Ireland, including owners, directors and chief data and information officers, exploring attitudes to data use and the impact of difficulties with interoperability on the MedTech industry’s development.

Interoperability is necessary to comply with complex and evolving healthcare data standards for the exchange of data with major health providers’ systems. Failure to achieve compliance with standards such as Health Level Seven® (HL7®) International V2 and FHIR® severely inhibits solution uptake and company growth.

Although 47% of respondents address the challenges of interoperability by using a database management system, 29% say their current data platform does not facilitate interoperability with current healthcare data standards. Companies are overlooking the advanced data platform technologies that will enable them to overcome significant interoperability problems and a shortage of in-house skills to address those issues.

Only 36% employ a unified data platform with comprehensive data management capabilities, despite the clear benefits of having technology that automates compliance with modern healthcare data standards.

“Interoperability problems have become a major stumbling block for the MedTech sector in the UK and Ireland, preventing the growth of companies with huge potential,” said Chris Norton, managing director UK & Ireland, InterSystems. “MedTech companies can only overcome the serious skills shortage they face through more effective technology – specifically through the deployment of unified data platforms purpose-built for the healthcare sector. This technology takes care of cleaning up data and making it fully usable and compliant in the world’s major healthcare systems.”

Just 31% of respondents say their organisation uses a cloud-native solution to achieve data interoperability, despite the need for modern health solutions to work in the cloud. And a fifth of respondents (20%) admit they have underestimated the importance and complications of interoperability when they started their business

“MedTech companies can fulfil their ambitions if they implement data platforms that are fully interoperable,” added Norton. “This is the fastest and most cost-effective way they for them to drive uptake and fully exploit the advantages of the cloud. MedTechs, whatever their workload, should no longer limited by interoperability problems or data platforms that fail to scale.”