As the concept of digital healthcare goes global, healthcare stakeholders across geographies are evaluating new tools, while innovators are navigating pathways to implement advanced technologies into healthcare. Over the past decade, the European healthcare system has progressed leaps and bounds. However, the sector is bound by some major challenges including aging population, greater prevalence of chronic diseases, shortage of healthcare workers, and financial discrepancies of care. In order to put a strong fight against the increasing healthcare challenges, the European healthcare sector is now embracing digital innovations and new technologies now more than ever before. But what are the major roadblocks to successfully implement digital healthcare technologies in Europe?
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Digital healthcare challenges in Europe
Meeting regulatory requirements
The regulatory issues with digital health technologies are highly complicated. The EU is planning to roll out Medical Device Regulation in May and this is also said to include regulations relating to digital health technologies. This could mean that out of several medical devices that is surveyed, only a few may be compliant with the regulations by the time they go into effect. New medical device regulations that would come into effect this year would require strict and stronger clinical evidence for clinical technologies.
Highly fragmented market
The EU is creating increased regulations around MedTech. However, there are several hurdles to implementation on a country-to-country basis. MedTech startups in Europe build at a regional level before expanding. This is a common trend in the US as well. However, the challenge here is that the systems are designed and developed for a local setting in the initial phase but launching the same system in another country could prove to be a tedious task the regulations and requirements across countries may vary. Setting up digital healthcare technology in a new EU country poses not just regulatory barriers but also logistical ones, such as infrastructure.
Finding funding for digital healthcare
Funding is another major challenge that digital healthcare innovators need to navigate in Europe. Seed-stage financing and early rounds should not be a challenge for digital healthcare startups in Europe because public funds can be sourced from countries like Germany and Portugal that make early-stage investments. There are also several venture capitalists across Europe that can also help with funding. Several US-based investors have been known to provide backing to Europe-grown startups. However, since Europe is a highly fragmented market, finding success across different countries in Europe may be challenging, making it difficult for digital health companies to find investors.
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