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How IoT is transforming the healthcare industry (Part 1)

October 9, 2017

Tim Sherwood   

Blog contributor

In the face of ever-increasing competition and evolving demands of patients in different geographies, healthcare service providers need to innovate and plan for digital transformation. In the developed world, they need to be equipped to treat an increasingly aging population whereas in the developing world, a big challenge still is how to reach more and more people in regions and communities with not enough healthcare staff.

Given these varying demands, to stay ahead, more and more healthcare organisations are investigating machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

While patients are already used to decentralised treatment centres, self-diagnosis portals and even telemedicine, this is just a beginning. Process management and cloud-based applications are unleashing new ways of working such as remote monitoring and support of patients, and delivering innovative ways for customers to access healthcare services.

The supply chain is changing too, with more and more collaboration across the entire ecosystem to bring down costs, accelerate the digitisation of medical records and introduce more patient-centric treatment models. This brings very real benefits to the quality of patient care, as local practitioners have more up-to-date data on their patients and their conditions at their fingertips, enabling doctors and nurses to make better informed data-led decisions with regards to remedies and patient care.

Now the IoT looks set to change the healthcare sector once again. It’s worth investigating the key factors that are going to be crucial during this next evolution.

Healthcare will go global

Health organisations need to take digital transformation on board to extend their services and reach in areas and communities where there aren’t enough healthcare professionals to treat a growing number of increasingly elderly patients. To succeed, they’re going to have to get the right strategy in place, combined with best-in-class infrastructure and information tools.

Large healthcare groups are international, so connectivity services need to be international too. It’s no longer possible to think on a purely domestic basis. To maintain consistent patient care standards across geographies, healthcare providers need a reliable communications network partner that can provide end-to-end mobile and cloud connectivity as well as data management services. Only by offering excellent service both in a domestic setting and across borders can they win and keep new business.

Continuous collaboration and ubiquitous access

Multi-platform collaboration across employees, partners and patients is the next step for healthcare organisations. By giving everyone access to the data and applications they need, wherever and whenever they’re needed, healthcare organisations can boost productivity and drive efficiency.

Let us consider the advances that telemedicine has already introduced. IoT-enabled mHealth solutions could deliver savings of €99 billion in the European Union, so it’s no wonder that healthcare organisations are exploring other new technologies that could bring down treatment costs and make physicians more available for patients.

One trend we’re bound to see is ever-better connectivity, as hospitals and organisations link up their care estate and supply chains to deliver a truly seamless service.

These two areas should be a focus point when looking at ways to harness the opportunities unleashed by IoT. By thinking globally and collaborating across ecosystems, healthcare providers can begin to leverage IoT to more effectively to enhance patient care. In part two of this blog I will look at two other areas that will help transform the healthcare industry.

Read one of my previous blogs on the growing pains that come with the Internet of Things.