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4 Things Hospitals Look for When Adopting New Medical Devices

March 13, 2019
When adopting new medical devices into a health facility, its important to remember how that device will integrate with your current medical setup. Ease of use, security, and overall cost are important factors to remember when assessing new medical devices and equipment.

Hospitals are full of devices that assist with making diagnoses, easing symptoms, tracking patient characteristics, and more, and outsiders may think there’s a straightforward process for bringing those products into the facilities.

The truth is that hospitals want the items to have certain characteristics before they agree that the devices are worthwhile enough to adopt. Here are four of those qualities.

Ease of Use

Patient hooked up to a brain scanning device. (Source: Paid for via iStock)

Technology should ideally make things easier for patients and providers. As such, hospitals want new medical devices that are user-friendly. One study found that electronic health records (EHR) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) applications put physicians at a higher risk for professional burnout than those who didn’t use them.

So why are doctors feeling fed up by uses of technology in the workplace? In the case of medical devices, they'll either need to use the devices themselves or teach patients how to do it. Obviously, when providers see for themselves that the devices can be used without hassle, it paves a smoother path toward their adoption.

Protection Against Cyberattacks

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the body responsible for approving medical devices in the United States. A medical device receives one of several classifications. For example, a device manufacturer submits a particular application if there are other devices already on the market that are substantially similar to the new gadget.

Numerous reports warn that health care is among the industries most vulnerable to cyberattacks. If a medical device has characteristics that could make cyberattacks especially likely to happen, the chances go up that hospitals will pass on adopting it. Hacking can prove fatal to individual patients, especially when devices such as those that administer medication or regulate the heartbeat are tampered with.

It’s not surprising that the FDA may soon require device manufacturers to submit a “Software Bill of Materials” with their device applications. That document would show potential or known vulnerabilities associated with the device components, helping hospitals and patients get more informed before deciding on a particular device.

One survey found that 83% of doctors experienced cyberattacks in their practices. Moreover, nearly three-quarters of the respondents dealt with disruptions from those incidents. Physicians are becoming increasingly familiar with the damage cyberattacks cause, and they’d likely want to avoid more issues when adopting new devices at hospitals.

Ability to Solve Known Problems or Improve Patient Care

Medical professional taking care of a person with a broken leg. (Source)

Selecting a new medical device requires time, money, and other resources. That’s why medical device salespeople have difficulty convincing hospitals to adopt their products if those customers don’t believe the device solves a problem. Some sales pitches focus too much on a device’s flashy features but don’t emphasize that it can do things to help a hospital overcome obstacles.

A medical device could also become exceptionally attractive to a hospital if it performs a function in a way that’s superior to the current method. In one example, an Israeli startup made a wound treatment device called SpinCare. It applies a temporary and transparent layer of ultra-thin fibers that mimic skin. Device users can cover skin without touching the affected area, which can reduce pain. Also, it’s possible for doctors to monitor wound healing without continually re-dressing the injured area. After the wound heals, the layer peels off.

If hospitals receive real-world examples of how a medical device helps patients or providers, they should be more interested in it. Otherwise, they could quickly assume that even a high-tech gadget isn’t worth the required investment for adoption.

Suitability for the Hospital’s Budget

Hospitals invariably make decisions about adopting new medical devices after figuring out whether the cost aligns with the facility’s budget. Hospitals may be more willing to pay a premium for devices that deliver value concerning efficacy, efficiency, or usability. But providers don’t typically have the authority to make purchasing decisions without appealing to administrative superiors.

Research shows that although the majority of hospital executives understand the importance of digital innovation, three budgetary barriers can stop or slow innovation in hospitals. Overcoming them requires convincing decision-makers that a device fits into the budget—and better yet, that the hospital cannot afford to go without it.

The implementation phase that comes before adoption often sets the tone for how the financial authorities feel about a device. If a short-term trial proved exceptionally costly and caused frustrations for patients and providers, a hospital probably wouldn’t move into the adoption phase because of the lack of evidence supporting that choice as a smart decision.

Understanding Various Priorities Could Increase Adoption Rates

As medical device manufacturers and their marketing teams assess how to appeal to clients, they must remember that each group at a hospital has different priorities, although there are some consistent ones between them.

From the business side of things, hospitals want devices that keep costs down and increase patient satisfaction. Providers, on the other hand, would probably be more interested in devices that improve their workflow or boost patient outcomes.

If device manufacturers take time to understand the differences between hospital groups and tailor their pitches accordingly, they may have higher-than-average rates of adoption at targeted facilities.

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