In analysis published in May, industry research firm Frost & Sullivan, London, argues that “the adoption of connected healthcare infrastructure is not uniform … due to the lack of a holistic digital healthcare strategy that focuses on integrated care models.” Put more plainly, the key points of resistance to effective device integration in hospitals are the lack of an interoperability roadmap, the high costs and complexity of integration, and the tendency of manufacturers to rely on proprietary connectivity solutions.

“More than 50 percent of healthcare providers do not have a healthcare IT roadmap, although they acknowledge the role of digital health in enhancing healthcare efficiency,” said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research Analyst Shruthi Parakkal. “Consequently, even the existing interoperability standards such as HL7, DICOM and Direct Project are not being utilized optimally by many providers.”

Healthcare Transformation

The Shifting Healthcare Paradigm (Click to enlarge).

Alliances and gateways that harness interoperability and enable information sharing between devices and health IT solutions from different vendors will go a long way in augmenting connectivity, according to the analysis. For that reason, “manufacturers of vendor-agnostic and open medical connectivity solutions are in demand,’ Parakkal said, “as they facilitate the integration of devices from different original equipment manufacturers.”

Despite the potential roadblocks, the forces driving interoperability will be hard to resist. “Hospitals/healthcare providers have an urgent requirement for connected devices and health IT solutions not only to manage healthcare data, but also to qualify ‘Meaningful Use’ requirements and be eligible for electronic health record incentives,” noted Parakkal. In addition, he expects “the intensifying focus on healthcare interoperability” in FDA guidelines “to add thrust to the development of the market for healthcare and medical device interoperability and connectivity.”

Visit the Frost & Sullivan website for more details on the analysis (registration required).