- The U.K. government must support an ambitious Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) program and boost access to health data to realize the benefits of digital health technologies, according to a British medtech trade group.
- In a report, the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI), which lists leading companies such as Medtronic among its members, makes four recommendations for how the U.K. can use digital technologies to address its healthcare challenges.
- ABHI wants the government to develop “specific payment pathways” that recognize the value of digital technologies and to create an assessment program “that supports clinical need, availability and choice.”
The U.K. has the makings of a leading digital health industry, notably because its healthcare service has one of the biggest and most diverse longitudinal health data sets. Pairing that resource with expertise in artificial intelligence and other areas of science at U.K. universities could enable the development of ways to monitor, detect and treat disease. Yet ABHI sees a risk the U.K. will squander the opportunity.
Recognizing that risk, the trade group has stepped up pressure on the government with a report that sets out the barriers to the blossoming of the U.K. digital health industry and makes recommendations for how officials can improve the situation.
ABHI wants the government to: provide resources to support an ambitious SaMD program at the U.K. regulatory agency; make health data “accessible to innovators in a secure, agile and timely manner”; create a digital health solution assessment program; and develop payment pathways that recognize the impact on early intervention, health prevention and population-level public health.
The four recommendations overlap with discussions taking place in other markets including the U.S., which last year was the subject of a report that found a lack of clarity around payment pathways was hindering access to digital therapeutics. If other countries tackle the problems and develop processes to incentivize digital health first, ABHI warns the U.K. could lose its leading position.
There is potential for the U.K. to move quickly. Many of the changes sought by ABHI can be made without legislation, according to the trade group, but will require “leadership from the center of the system.”