Navigating Medical Device Certification: A Qualitative Exploration of Barriers and Enablers Amongst Innovators, Notified Bodies and Other Stakeholders

Ther Innov Regul Sci. 2023 Mar;57(2):238-250. doi: 10.1007/s43441-022-00463-4. Epub 2022 Oct 4.


Background: Medical device certification has undergone significant changes in recent years. However, exploration of stakeholder experiences remains relatively limited, particularly in the context of software as a medical device. This study sought to explore stakeholder experiences of medical device certification across both the UK and EU.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n = 22) analysed using inductive-thematic analysis, synthesised using activity theory.

Results: Innovators, consultants and notified bodies share more similarities than differences when discussing barriers and enablers to achieving medical device certification. Systemic tensions between existing rules, tools, community understanding and division of labour currently undermine the intended aim of certification processes. Existing rules are considered complex, with small and medium-sized enterprises considered disproportionality affected, resulting in several unintended outcomes including the perceived 'killing' of innovation. Existing certification processes are described as unfit for purpose, unethical and unsustainable.

Conclusion: Stakeholder experiences suggest that the intention of establishing a robust and sustainable regulatory framework capable of ensuring a high level of safety whilst also supporting innovation is not yet being realised. Failure to enact desired changes may further jeopardise future innovations, outcomes and care quality.

Keywords: CE mark; Digital health; Medical devices; Regulation; UKCA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Certification*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Software