Shaping the future of the digital health marketplace

I was recently asked to explain the digital health marketplace in the UK and how providers are supposed to access the market. This marketplace includes, for example, telehealth, telemedicine, eHealth and mHealth products, as well as telecare. A marketplace is formed where there is demand for a product or service, and when this demand is supplied. Of course then, markets grow and evolve over a period of time.

Within the digital health space, on the supply side there is a vast range of products and services, but the demand side is unclear. The need is there, but organisations responsible for planning and commissioning services are often unsure of how best to engage with some of the technologies available and to procure these. What works? Where do we start? Is it cost effective? How can we assess service impact?

So we could reasonably conclude that the marketplace for digital health is not well defined and has not yet matured. This is discouraging for providers, especially SMEs, and there is confusion about the best approach for accessing the market. This could even cause a provider, particularly a smaller one, to ‘give up’. This would be a shame if they had an excellent product which they were struggling to sell.

It is important for those on the demand side to be clear about what it is that they want to procure or commission, and that they are ready for adopting the technologies and services. Organisational readiness is often an area overlooked; yet this is such an important issue to address to ensure the marketplace matures and thrives.

While there are some pockets of excellent working in getting products to segments of the market e.g. acceleration programmes, processes are not the same across different geographical areas and sectors. These issues are not limited to the UK. From conversations I am having with people overseas, the situation is pretty much the same internationally.

The imbalance between the supply and demand sides of the market cannot continue.

So, what can be done?

FIRST EVER INTERNATIONAL CODE OF PRACTICE FOR PLANNING, COMMISSIONING AND PROVIDING TECHNOLOGY ENABLED CARE SERVICES

To help shape the marketplace, CECOPS has developed the first ever International Code of Practice for Planning, Commissioning and Providing Technology Enabled Care Services. This is an outcomes-focused quality framework for procurement and provision of services. It offers an end-to-end solution which addresses all aspects of the marketplace.

This new framework for the first time provides structure to the marketplace and is set to become the recognised benchmark.

Working with the Code will help to create and shape a more balanced marketplace. Following it will also help to ensure an organisation’s readiness before engaging with digital health. The Code can also act as a framework to support providers coming into the space, so that they have a clearer understanding of what might be required of them.

Using the Code within tender specifications simplifies the procurement process. As the Code is outcomes-focused, it encourages providers to be innovative. It will also help to achieve sustainable economic growth in the space; as growth for some providers is currently minimal and short-lived.

As the standards and certification body for these services, CECOPS is also able to accredit services via an external assessment.

Some of the many benefits of this new approach include:

  • Marketplace development and maturity
  • Brokering improved relationships in the marketplace
  • Accelerating organisations to a state of readiness
  • Achieving sustainable economic growth for the sector
  • Simplifying procurement, commissioning and contract management processes
  • Better chance of realising benefits from providers’ products and services
  • Saving time and cost (by providing a ready-made framework)
  • Improved quality and performance
  • Local, regional, national and international benchmark and platform for sharing good practice and having a community building approach
  • Improved clinical, wellbeing and financial outcomes

Copies of the International Code are available from here. The Code is free to organisations registered with CECOPS.

To find out more about CECOPS’ accreditation scheme or the Code, please get in touch.

Brian

THE AUTHOR

Brian Donnelly

Chief Executive - CECOPS

Brian has over 20 years’ experience in Health and Social Care, working at both strategic and operational level. His experience spans across the public, private and third sectors (social enterprises). He is qualified in Procurement, Management Studies, and Project Management and holds an MSc in Health & Social Care (with Distinction). Brian is recognised nationally and internationally for his work on standards on a range of assistive technology related services. He is committed to improving quality, safety and performance in health and social care, so that people using services receive good care and support.

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