An Essential Primer for Medical Device Makers Looking to Serve the Multi-Billion Dollar Global EHR Market with Cloud Connectivity

Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems used in hospitals, office-based physician practices and physical therapy (PT) facilities represent a promising, highly lucrative market opportunity for medical device manufacturers.

In this three-part series we identify the opportunity for manufacturers to integrate their medical devices with EHR systems:

PART ONE – The Opportunity

The most recent data from The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reports that acute care hospitals with certified health IT implementation are approaching 100 percent. And nearly 9 in 10 (86%) of office-based physicians had adopted any EHR, while nearly 4 in 5 (80%) had adopted a certified EHR. A certified EHR meets the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ minimum standards for security and functionality.

At the same time, medical devices — from hospital imaging equipment to implantable pacemakers and infusion pumps — are becoming a key part of healthcare infrastructure.

Medical devices play a vital role in patient health—monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment. They can be found most anywhere in the hospital to remotely monitor and sometimes treat patients with diabetic, cardio, and neurological conditions, among others. The average patient room for example contains nearly 15-20 connected devices.

By performing a variety of tasks, including monitoring vitals, improving diagnostics, regulating prescription dosages, the “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT) can increase clinical accuracy. It also has the potential to improve reimbursement rates and lower patient readmissions.

The growth of cloud services and the greater reliance on IoMT devices are compelling EHR vendors to develop connectivity strategies with device manufacturers.

Consider athenahealth, a leading national provider of network-enabled services and mobile apps for medical groups and health systems.

As Neeti Gupta, Executive Director – Partners at athenahealth observed, “We are seeing more medical devices in the market than ever before, and our research shows a significant amount of industry investment is going towards medical devices. As more of these medical devices become commercially available, we anticipate increased demand for interoperability of data.”

Market Size Potential

A 2018 Frost and Sullivan industry report concluded that the “wide adoption of electronic medical/health record (EMR/EHR) solutions in hospitals is making a strong case for interoperability among medical devices.” The research firm estimated EHR solutions could well take the $232.5 million global medical device connectivity (MDC) market past the billion-dollar mark by 2022.

Given market predictions and healthcare realities, Galen Data advises wearable, implantable, and stationary device manufacturers to begin thinking about cloud-based connectivity and how they can position themselves for growth in the EHR market.

Currently, more than half our device manufacturer clients have already inquired about cloud connectivity for EHR vendors.

  • They have interoperability
  • They want to know how to best contain the cost of implementing a platform needed to collect, store, and analyze data.
  • Equally important they want a solution allowing them to maintain ownership and control of the massive amounts of data that their devices will generate.
  • And they are concerned about meeting a multitude of regulatory requirements—a key factor often overlooked by device manufacturers.

This report serves as a primer for medical device makers who want to serve this EHR market with cloud-based connectivity.

EHR Cloud Connectivity Market Size

Building Your Case by Delivering Value to an EHR System Provider

EHRs are digital versions of patient charts. Their adoption can be traced in no small degree to the federal Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) that was enacted to modernize healthcare delivery and contain cost. Their fundamental purpose is to improve patient care and allow authorized users to more easily and securely access and share patient information.

While user satisfaction continues to improve, EHR vendors have historically encountered challenges meeting the specialized needs of medical providers, clinicians and facility management teams. Vendors have had to deal with helping providers address changes in workflows, usability and interface issues, and burdensome data entry processes.

Mergers and acquisitions have reduced the number of players but today the EHR market remains competitive. There are an estimated 700 companies competing in the $31 billion global market.

EHR vendors face pressures to deliver value, reduce costs and increase efficiency. They are always searching for new technologies that can improve workflow, ensure compliance and help providers lower readmission rates. In short, deliver value.

Medical device integration is now a critical part of any EHR system. However, the number and types of medical devices pose configuration and interface challenges and massive data collection, storage and analytic issues.

It’s essential that medical device makers demonstrate their value in meeting the clinical needs of providers and providing a cloud-based solution that can seamlessly integrate within EHR systems.

As athenahealth’s Gupta explains, “Cloud connectivity for these medical devices is critical as several medical devices tend to be not connected. It would be best for the industry and for patients if medical device companies would make their data extractable so that it can be integrated into different EHRs.”

To deliver value, medical device makers must be able to address how their devices can address three key areas impacting EHR performance—in Part Two we closely examine these areas of opportunity for device manufacturers:

  • Data Management
  • Workflow (Cloud and Interoperability)
  • Compliance (FDA, HIPAA, Industry Standards)