Why healthcare will never be the same again with IoT

The future of healthcare will be marked by an ecosystem that will essentially evolve from isolated smart systems to system–of–systems connecting patients, devices & hospitals - with IoT being at the core of this transformation.

Updated: Oct 7, 2016 09:41:07 AM UTC
The future of healthcare will be marked by an ecosystem that will essentially evolve from isolated smart systems to system–of–systems connecting patients, devices & hospitals - with IoT being at the core of this transformation.

The biggest medical breakthroughs in future will not just happen in laboratories and they will certainly no more be a result of some chance discoveries. Almost every breakthrough that happens will have its foundation built on Data Science & Analytics. With its potential of large-scale outcome analysis, pattern recognition & future prediction - data analytics is winning over intuition and judgmental faculties at an increasing rate, seeking an ideal avenue to facilitate decision optimization. Data Science & Analytics are integral components of Internet of Things (IoT) - gearing up to bring robust technology & agile platforms in the market and creating highly attractive opportunities for the healthcare sector. According to a recent research by MarketResearch.com, the IoT market, just in the healthcare segment is poised to hit $117 billion by 2020 with a CAGR of more than 30%. hcl_blogIoTization - Redefining Boundaries of Healthcare
Healthcare today is undergoing a radical shift with increasing play of wider ecosystem involving data scientists, aggregators, technology giants & device manufacturers. The future of healthcare will be marked by an ecosystem that will essentially evolve from isolated smart systems to system–of–systems connecting patients, devices & hospitals - with IoT being at the core of this transformation.

Smartphones, wearables and other medical devices are increasingly being seen as a replacement for traditional pedometers, Sphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitor), glucometers & calorie counters, and are soon expected to find a significant place in a physician’s diagnostic toolbox. The evolving ecosystem and landscape of connected devices will expand the ability of healthcare providers to customize the treatment for patients, enabling better ways to predict, prevent and cure, improving the longevity of life.

IoT – The New Resident Doctor
Remote Patient Monitoring solutions and Disease Management Platforms will facilitate better Care Coordination across the Care Continuum by connecting patients with their Physicians and Caregivers in a more effective way. For instance, Intel has collaborated with Michael J. Fox Foundation to improve monitoring and treatment of Parkinson's disease, wherein they are developing a connected platform to detect patients’ patterns, collected through wearable technologies, and monitor symptoms that otherwise go unnoticed during diagnosis. Such integration of technology and analytics is leading to disruption in healthcare industry. IoTization of these solutions will also have the potential to give the Bio–Pharmaceuticals sector ability to disrupt the current ‘old school’ clinical research model with simplified and adaptive Clinical Trial design and implementation of a more patient centric drug development program.

IoT enabled remote diagnosis and health checkups can eliminate the need to move patients with chronic illnesses to care homes. For instance, the percentage of people above 60 years of age is expected to rise from 11% to 15% between 2010 and 2020 and close to a billion population suffering from chronic illnesses requires continuous monitoring. Predictive models, along with the insights gleaned from healthcare IoTization, will facilitate the bedbound residents with self-monitoring of their health parameters. Businesses will be able to automate their processes, improve efficiencies and bring the providers closer to the patients by enabling real-time patient access, thus solving some of the biggest challenges in healthcare industry today - time and accessibility.

Unprecedented Business Opportunities
Empowered by the market need and evolving potential of IoT, new business avenues are being generated for service players to build & deploy smarter platforms in the ecosystem. New Services, along with technology integration are redefining the business model of the healthcare. Businesses will compete on their ability to deliver quantifiable end results in real time and it’s the end result that will begin to command a fee. For instance, Obama care mandates fee-for-outcome per patient where single payment is paid to the hospital for a defined episode of care.

All this will require much more automation, better predictability and greater collaboration in healthcare ecosystem to offer a reduced cost of service. Service providers have huge opportunity to ride this technological shift with some of the primary use cases being:
Supply chain optimization: According to Cardinal Health, about $5Bn of medical waste is generated annually owing to ineffective inventory and supply chain tracking. Real-time monitoring & tracking could trigger alerts for automatic replenishment of supplies limiting the costs with increased efficiency
Reduced machine downtime: The average downtime cost for a healthcare related outage per incident is about $690K. According to a McKinsey study, there is potential to save upto $2.5 trillion annually by 2025 on account of the industrial IoT
Reduced turnaround time with process automation:  Continuous tracking of patients’ health through remote monitoring can reduce mortality rates by about 45% and on average firms have potential to realize upto 89% reduction in turnaround time owing to improved connectivity and process automation

IoT adoption lies at the core of all these humungous business benefits which will have a direct impact on both top line and bottom line. For instance: at HCL ‘IoT Works’ - we are already witnessing significant increase in traction with our customers, for building solutions in these use cases. With one of the leading partners – just developing a gateway between client’s sterilization and verification devices helped improve device uptime by 27%, reduced field visit costs by 18%, and eliminated manual data reconciliation, ultimately leading to a significant improvement in equipment sales.

The time to act is now!
The emergence of the new IoTized healthcare ecosystem, with IoT being the glue binding the parts together poses a set of opportunities as well as challenges. Efficiencies and experiences will improve manifold, while we will become more vulnerable to security and privacy threats with increasingly sensitive data being generated and getting accessible. This double edged sword of IoTized Healthcare is sure to swing its way to prominence in the years to come; the difference between having the edge and being edged out boils down to how well organizations understand IoT and start acting towards building a strategy today. One thing is clear - IoT will ensure Healthcare will never be the same again!

- By Sukamal Banerjee, Executive Vice President and Global Head of IoT WoRKSTM Business Unit, HCL Technologies

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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