Healthcare Internet of Things: 18 trends to watch

2017-04-10 - By 

The transformation of the healthcare industry has begun. While it will take many years, the shake-up in patient, provider and payer processes and analytics systems will leave the industry profoundly different.

On the horizon is a much more cost-efficient healthcare industry that offers truly personalized healthcare. Providers and patients will be able to leverage the ever-increasing medical knowledgebase and combine that with patient-specific historical and real-time data, including genetics, lifestyle behavior and environmental data.

The adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) networks, the data collected and the analytics of that data are accelerating the transformation of the healthcare industry.

Facts to consider

Over the next few years, patient monitoring devices will improve, and providers will increasingly implement IoT and big data analytics solutions. As a result, the global IoT healthcare market will grow at a significant rate.

Trends to watch

The following are some trends I am watching in 2016. Many are interrelated, and some are longer term than others. But all will be important to watch over the next 12 months.

  1. Consumer-driven healthcare. Consumers are taking more responsibility for their own heath. As they do, they will demand better access to their data and improved health technology solutions that allow them to manage their own healthcare.
  2. Digital healthcare transformation. Data from IoT devices, including hospital room sensors, lab equipment, employee wearables and patient monitoring devices will enable the industry to accelerate the transformation to digital.  This transformation will cut healthcare costs and improve patient experiences and outcomes. Providers will increasingly look to analytics to provide predictive and prescriptive capabilities, dramatically improving the ability of healthcare providers to help patients. Payers will leverage that data to control costs and optimize patient healthcare outcomes.
  3. Key solution areas. Look for improvements in IoT solutions related to remote patient monitoring services, mobile health technologies, telemedicine, medication management, clinical operations, employee workflow management and inpatient monitoring.
  4. Extracting insights from all the data. The amount of healthcare-related data available within the industry is growing exponentially. The IoT will result in an increased flow of data for patient records, population health data and other databases, bringing a new complexity to provider and physician operations. Too much data can overload those providing care and distract them from their mission of treating patients. Providers will seek help from professional IoT services firms to help them develop processes and IoT platforms that can extract insights from many data sources.
  5. Remote patient monitoring.  Expect new remote patient monitoring devices, wearable clothing and smartphone apps that analyze the data collected. We are at the beginning of a new era of remote patient monitoring that will automatically feed patient records with real-time data, perform analysis and send coaching notifications to both providers and patients. This will make healthcare easier, convenient, 24/7, web-enabled and personalized.
  6. Providers begin shift toward remote healthcare. As consumers adopt remote monitoring devices, providers will restructure in order to provide remote medical care services and solutions.  New processes, roles, and skills will be required.  Larger providers will offer healthcare cognitive diagnostic and coaching mobile apps for patients to use remotely.
  7. Creating baseline and benchmark databases. IoT emerges as a key data capture point to establish a common baseline of data for care teams to utilize when comparing treatment options.  Teams of providers will leverage historical data and analytics to treat patients who have similar symptoms or diagnoses as those in the baseline data.
  8. Patient centered analytics. Expect more focus on using advanced analytics, visualizations and decision support tools (e.g., Watson) to improve diagnostic accuracy. Both provider and patient versions of these tools should emerge. Treatments will become more precise, effective and personalized.
  9. Cognitive coaching apps. Look for providers to begin releasing mobile apps that patients can use for healthcare and wellness coaching. Patients will increasingly demand these cognitive era apps, which will leverage data collected by wearables and information found in electronic health records. These apps will provide patients with personalized strategies to combat illness and behaviors in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage their own health.
  10. Government regulations. Governments will lay out guidelines for how medical apps (those apps that make medical recommendations and affect treatments of various diseases) will be regulated.
  11. Better component technology. Innovation in IoT solution and network components (e.g., smaller sensors, faster CPUs at lower cost) and wearable medical devices will bring cheaper, more advanced medical devices that are much more accurate and can transmit many new health measurements to electronic health records.
  12. Device interoperability and data integration. Analytics adoption in healthcare is closely tied to the ease with which disparate structured and unstructured data sources can be integrated and leveraged for data-driven decision making. As the number of medical-related IoT connected devices grows, the key challenge will be to ensure that data from all these devices can be read into big data platforms and then easily integrated into analytics solutions.
  13. Security and privacy issues. IoT and wearable sensors are increasingly collecting patient specific data. The healthcare industry, vendors and governments need to figure out how to ensure all this private and personal data is secured appropriately. This is a significant challenge and one that will require collaboration from all involved parties.
  14. Sharing of patient data. While security and privacy of patient healthcare records are critical, the fact is patients see multiple providers. Information must be shared across multiple providers in order to result in proper diagnosis, treatment and ongoing effective decision making. Sharing of information electronically can also serve to improve cost efficiencies throughout the healthcare system.
  15. Integration of research, operational and IT analytics. Look for increased requirements to integrate data from many different internal and external sources. Researchers, business execs, doctors and IT professionals will collaborate to provide better overall care to patients. Vendors will increase their focus on integrating platforms, applications and data.
  16. IoT for the hospital. Leading hospitals will develop long-term strategies to leverage sensors and wearables throughout their operations in order to build a real-time sense-and-respond intelligent operation that cuts costs and improves patient experiences and outcomes. Researchers, nurses and doctors will spend less time doing administrative work and more time with patients.
  17. Skills gap. As the industry transforms toward digital, healthcare organizations will realize they don’t have all the data and analytics skills that are required. Competition for top-tier data scientists and related talent will remain a pervasive industry pain point for healthcare providers and payer organizations.
  18. Leadership challenges. There is a growing need for data-driven vision and leadership in the executive ranks within the healthcare industry. The industry needs executives who understand the value that IoT and analytics will bring to the industry. Vendors can help push this transformation with an increased focus on the benefits of analytics.

As you can see, a lot will be happening in 2016 around the intersection of healthcare and the IoT. Key drivers will be an increasing demand for advanced healthcare information systems that can cut costs and drive improved patient-centered care.

Additional reading

Original article here.


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