Medical Device Software Development

Interconnected Care: The Journey to a Unified Digital Ecosystem

Interconnected Care: The Journey to a Unified Digital Ecosystem

The digital health landscape is rapidly evolving, with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) at its forefront. As healthcare organisations grapple with fragmented systems and devices, the push for interoperability becomes paramount. This article delves into the challenges of creating a cohesive digital health ecosystem, the distinction between interoperability and integration, and the real-world applications driving this change. We highlight the path to seamless healthcare delivery with expert insights and success stories.


Digital health ecosystems are more than a futuristic concept; they're today's reality.

With their potential to revolutionise economic landscapes and meet contemporary consumer needs, they're reshaping the way we view healthcare. Patients no longer seek piecemeal solutions; they want comprehensive health journeys. 

But why is this shift towards connected health systems so crucial, and how are we paving the path for seamless integrations between digital health solutions - from software to medical devices? Let's dive deeper.

A Fragmented System: Disconnected Devices and Data Gaps

Healthcare organisations often use multiple digital health platforms for medical data and medical device management, which has accumulated over the years. This diverse tech landscape evolves due to the:

  • Adoption of new systems, medical devices and IT enhancements.
  • Upgrades to older apps and shifts to modern platforms.
  • Updates to software versions.
  • Integration of advanced tools.
  • Phasing out or replacing outdated solutions.

Recent studies have shown that 83% of medical devices run on outdated or unsupported software. These legacy systems, often left behind by vendors, pose significant security risks to data sharing in healthcare. Alarmingly, they leave almost 98% of crucial medical data either unprotected or poorly encrypted. 

Disconnected devices can lead to fragmented information, causing confusion and delays in care delivery. This disjointed approach doesn't just affect clinical outcomes; it can also compromise operations, communication and, ultimately, the bottom line. With interoperability in healthcare, these varied IT systems, developed by different vendors at different times, could function cohesively.

“All software and digital health tech solutions must organically fit and work together as a whole - which is why we now have data interoperability in healthcare,” says Dr Aakash Doshi, CEO of Montar Healthtech.

Interoperability vs. Integration 

While often used interchangeably in digital healthcare, interoperability and integration differ in how they handle data exchange. Interoperability lets different software share data, while integration merges systems to work as one. Thanks to predefined standards, interoperability lets tech teams scale efficiently.

Simply put, interoperability is when different software can share and understand data in one or both directions. For this to work, the data must be translated into a format any system in the ecosystem can understand. 

“The next building block in digital health is the "democratisation of data." This is when data flows from one team to the next, across the entire journey of care. Patients and their families can then have confidence that every provider team they are working with has the most current and up-to-date health data to work with to inform decisions,” says Anne Snowdon, director of clinical research at HIMSS.

Here’s how the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) can change the game.

Understanding IoT: The Web of Connectivity 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a vast network of interconnected physical devices or "things." These devices, embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity, can collect and exchange data. This offers:

Data-Driven Insights: With the ability to gather vast amounts of data, IoT paves the way for informed decision-making and process optimisation. It's not just about collecting data but making sense of it to provide seamless care co-ordination. 

Diverse Applications: From smart homes and industrial automation to agriculture and healthcare, IoT is revolutionising sectors by enhancing efficiency, convenience, and resource management.

Scalability and Growth: As more devices join this interconnected web, the potential for scalability and further innovation is immense.

Diving into IoMT

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) takes the principles of IoT and tailors them to healthcare. It's about creating a cohesive digital ecosystem tailored for patient care by seamlessly integrating medical devices and sensors through robust software development. 

The IoMT not only enhances diagnostic accuracy and treatment speed but also facilitates real-time health monitoring. For healthcare organisations, it means streamlined clinical processes, better workflow management, and the ability to provide quality care remotely.

Navigating through diverse national and international data standards and securing consent for healthcare data access are just a few of the hurdles that arise without interoperability. The solution lies in embracing open platforms encouraging collaboration among payers, providers, and tech vendors.

Behind the Scenes: Key Standards and Technologies 

To achieve this level of seamless communication, specific health IT standards have been established, such as: 

1. HL7 (Health Level Seven International)

Health Level Seven (HL7) represents a collection of global standards designed to facilitate the exchange of clinical and administrative information among healthcare software solutions. These standards are crafted by the non-profit entity Health Level Seven International (HL7). Furthermore, this organisation has earned accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It ensures consistent and accurate information sharing across different healthcare systems, like creating a universal language for healthcare data, leading to improved patient outcomes.

2. OpenHIE

OpenHIE is an open-source structure designed to create health information systems that can work together. It offers guidelines and methods to help various health systems and apps communicate.

3. OpenHIM 

OpenHIM is an open-source platform that acts as a central hub for overseeing health information exchanges (HIE). It helps healthcare professionals link different health systems and applications, offering a unified platform for handling data transfers and ensuring security.

4. DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine)

Specifically for medical images, the DICOM standard ensures that images from one device can be viewed and interpreted on another, making the sharing and managing of these images efficient. Its mission is to ensure that systems used to produce, store, share, display, send, query, process, retrieve, and print medical images are interoperable.

Seamless Synchrony: Success Stories  

The drive toward interoperability isn't just theoretical; it's happening in real-time. 

  1. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is among the initial measures to create interoperability standards in digital healthcare technology.
  2. A prime example of integration in action is the Health and Human Services department procuring Salesforce Service Cloud, which showcases the drive towards better customer support through integrated solutions.
  3. Another great example uses interoperability to streamline the medication management process. Omnicell, a top medication management solution provider, successfully integrated its Automated Platforms with major Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (ePMA) and electronic patient record systems. This integration, which includes partnerships with Better, Cerner, EPIC, and others, has notably reduced medication errors and improved staff workflows. Beyond these, Omnicell's platforms can also connect with medication wholesalers, finance systems, and other stakeholders, aiming for a patient-focused supply chain.

Formats used for building a digital health ecosystem 

The "string-of-pearls" approach allows individual apps and medical devices to interlink, requiring users to sign in once. Sectors like pharmaceuticals, pharmacies, medtech, start-ups, and governments favour this method.

On the other hand, healthcare providers, tech giants, and insurers lean towards the "superapp" approach, where multiple functionalities or devices are bundled into one app. However, 64% of users in the healthcare industry find the string-of-pearls more feasible due to the challenges of integrating many solutions into one app.

The string-of-pearls method is widespread across sectors in Europe, influenced by regulations like GDPR, specific country rules, and data privacy concerns. Meanwhile, in China and parts of Asia, super apps offering services from food delivery to telemedicine have been the norm for years.


As we've explored, the journey from fragmented devices to a cohesive digital health ecosystem is both challenging and rewarding. But you don't have to navigate this journey alone. Whether you're looking to upgrade your existing software, build from the ground up, or simply seek expert advice on streamlining your systems, Montar’s team has the experience and knowledge to guide you. 

Dive into the future of healthcare with a partner who understands the intricacies of the digital health ecosystem. Reach out to Montar Healthtech today, and let's shape the future of patient care together.

Key Takeaways

  1. Digital health ecosystems are reshaping modern healthcare.
  2. Fragmented systems pose significant security and operational risks.
  3. Interoperability and integration, though often used interchangeably, serve distinct roles in data exchange.
  4. The IoMT tailors IoT principles to enhance patient care and streamline clinical processes.
  5. Open standards like HL7 and platforms like OpenHIE are pivotal for seamless communication.
  6. The "string-of-pearls" approach offers a feasible solution for many sectors influenced by regulations and data privacy concerns.
  7. Superapps, popular in Asia, bundle multiple functionalities into one comprehensive application.
  8. The journey to a cohesive digital health ecosystem is challenging but essential for improved patient outcomes.


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Dr. Lakshmi Vaswani
Dr. Lakshmi Vaswani

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