The arrival of the IoT in the healthcare sector means that consumers will now have the power to take control of their own health in a much more personalized way through technology.
‘The Internet of Health Things (IoHT) already provides quantifiable savings, but it is essential to continue investing in order to advance the digital economy and ensure long-term business survival.’ – Accenture Digital
There is absolutely no doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) is completely transforming the healthcare sector by redefining the procedures that use applications, devices and people when it comes to interacting and connecting between them, with the aim of providing solutions geared towards medical services.
In the healthcare sector, the IoT ecosystem places new tools and efficiencies at the disposal of healthcare professionals, forming a comprehensive system of medical care with the goal of providing patients with substantially improved care, significantly reducing costs and improving the treatments used. In addition, the IoT represents a conglomerate of numerous opportunities that can be used by the managers of health centres, hospitals and clinics while at the same time optimizing resources through the automation of workflows and process excellence. Today, the vast majority of hospitals use the IoT for asset management and for controlling the humidity and temperature of operating rooms.
Kevin Patel, an analyst with consultancy firm Xangati and one of the most active contributors to IBM’s blog on the IoT, lists the key benefits that healthcare companies get when they integrate the IoT in their infrastructures. ’Healthcare providers are realising the advantages that come with the connectivity of IoT solutions, providing real-time patient monitoring and dramatically reducing unnecessary visits to the doctor. At the same time, the most advanced healthcare systems guarantee a dramatic reduction in hospital stays and readmissions,’, contends Patel.
IMPROVED TREATMENTS, ANOTHER BENEFIT OF THE IOT IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR
Connectivity applied to medical solutions through the cloud or other virtual infrastructures provides healthcare professionals with the ability to access real-time information that gives them new tools when it comes to decision-making and offering evidence-based treatments. This capacity development ensures the provision of healthcare services. “’With patients being monitored continuously, and caregivers having access to real-time information, diseases are treated more promptly, minimising the margin of error, by receiving accurate data through automated workflows that are combined with decisions supported by the data received. All of this is an excellent way of cutting expenditure by reducing the costs involved in these systems,’ says Patel.
Connectivity in the healthcare system through the Internet of Things puts an emphasis on the patients’ needs, such as: proactive treatments, greater diagnostic precision, performing surgical procedures at earlier stages, and improving recovery treatments. Improving the management and administration of drugs by pharmacies to optimise public expenditure on medicines is another aspect that benefits from IoT processes and devices, given the effectiveness of the technology when it comes to optimising costs.
THE CONSUMERISATION OF HEALTHCARE WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE IOT
In an article that assesses the transformations that the IoT is wielding in the healthcare sector, Jeroen Tas, CEO of the Philips Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services Business Group, highlights the process of consumerization taking place in the field of healthcare. ’Companies that have never before exerted influence in this sector are swiftly becoming its major power-brokers. The business models of many clinics and health centres are being redesigned to adapt to the growing influence of data-fueled customers. Unique partnerships are being forged between agile start-ups and established brands to capitalize on this new digital-first world.’
For experts like Tas at Philips, the most important change taking place in the healthcare industry with the arrival of the IoT is the outcome of the data revolution, which empowers people to live healthier lives through the use of their own tablets, wearables and other devices. The arrival of the IoT in the healthcare sector means that consumers now have the power to take control of their own health in a much more personalised way. Jeroen Tas also referred to the advances achieved in cloud-based technology. ’This year, a unique strategic partnership between Philips and Salesforce has created a platform that enables medical devices to operate in conjunction with deep sets of data.’
The analysis of this type of data – amassed from electronic medical records, diagnostic information gathered through imaging equipment, monitors and hand-held personal devices – enhances the decision-making powers of healthcare professionals and lets patients take a more active role in managing their personal health. These innovations are not only transforming the care of chronically ill patients but are also suitable for people who simply want to maintain their good health.
According to the Philips expert, the journey of the IoT through the health sector entails the consumer taking control in this first digital world. ’Consequently, the business model of the health industry needs to evolve, taking into account the fact that any company can now become a healthcare provider, as long as their technology is meaningful to the customer.’
IOT IN HEALTHCARE: A MARKET THAT WILL ACCOUNT FOR BETWEEN $117 AND $163 BILLION BY 2020
According to a report published by MarketResearch.com, the Internet of Things segment geared towards the health industry will amount to some $117 billion dollars by 2020. Depending on the company using the term, we might be talking about the Internet of Things (IoT for most companies), the Internet of Everything (IoE in the case of Cisco), or the Industrial Internet, when GE is doing the talking. However, this analyst notes that the combined IoT market is much bigger than the figure reflects.
The ‘Accenture 2017 Internet of Health Things Survey’ notes that by 2020 the IoT industry in the healthcare sector will move in the order of $163 billion, with year-on-year growth of 40% between 2015 and 2020. At the same time, the Accenture report notes that 73% of executives in the healthcare industry agree with the statement that the IoT will act as a disruptive element in the sector within the next three years; though only 49% of this group acknowledges that their organisation understands what the IoT can do to optimise their workflow.
With regard to the budgets that health sector organisations devote to investing in IoT technologies, the Accenture report notes that firms whose annual IT budgets are below $26 million earmark 6% of it to the Internet of Things, while companies whose budgets range between 26 and 50 million dollars devote 9.7%. Companies whose budgets range between 51 and 100 million dollars earmark 10.5% of their budgets to the IoT; while budgets of between 100 and 200 million dollars devote 12.6% and those with IT budgets in excess of 200 million dollars assign 13.7% to the IoT.
’Ignoring the potential of IoT in the health sector means that executives in this market risk losing a number of advantages they have already achieved; for example, exercising the most appropriate management to attract and retain patient-customers, and achieving substantial savings in administrative and medical costs,’ notes the Accenture report, while at the same time stressing that: ’The Internet of Health Things (IoHT) already provides quantifiable savings, but it is essential to continue investing in order to advance the digital economy and ensure long-term business survival.’