How close are we to having a digital nervous system for healthcare?
Healthcare is the next big thing in digital transformation; the global market is expected to breach the $379 billion mark by 2024, according to new research by Global Market Insights.
Cost-cutting in hospitals, care homes, doctors’ offices and pharmaceuticals is helping to drive adoption of technology. Patient well-being is adding to the push, with connected Internet of Things devices providing the growth platform.
To learn more about this burgeoning market, I attended the Digital Health World Congress 2018 on May 8th and 9th in London. Attendees ranged from medical practitioners to device and platform vendors and IT executives from the medical industry.
They shared ideas and use cases with the audience. Dr Paul Fermor, UK Solutions Director for Software AG, led a panel discussion on emerging trends and opportunities in the market. Many of the panelists agreed that digitalization in this industry has a long road to travel.
Decision support systems, where patients can ask questions and either humans or “healthbots” answer them to save doctors’ time, were one of the topics. Patrice Slupowski, VP digital innovation at Orange, said that medical decision support systems are all about the data. Is it accurate? Is it aggregated correctly?
David Thompson, CEO of Health Navigator, said that data standards are good but not great. But there is increasing need for data: “There is an enormous amount of data out there, and the industry is starting to use it to discover patterns. A surgeon can learn a lot from the records that other surgeons have.”
Doctors are not the only ones who can learn from data analytics. For example, pharmaceutical companies conduct drug trials on people where they have absolutely no visibility, said Dan Vahdat. Remote monitoring them for side effects would be extremely useful: “They need an overview of what is happening to their patients. It does not need to be complicated.”
Slupowski noted that wearables can give doctors and others better visibility into their patients. “Patients forget. Did they walk 10,000 steps? Did they stick to 2,000 calories? Wearables keep track – what you can track, you can measure.”
This also goes for embedded devices, said the man sitting next to me from Boston Scientific. The company now has a small device that can be embedded next to your heart and can predict a heart attack up to three weeks in advance. Doctors monitoring these devices can intervene well before the event, preventing any collateral damage.
Devices are everywhere – wearables, embedded, bedside, in the operating room – and they all need to be connected and the data analyzed in order to make improvements in patient care.
Operational efficiency is huge benefit of any digital transformation, saving hospitals and doctors money. Paul gave some examples in his talk about IoT-specific business models for healthcare. One was that, in the UK’s NHS, 1 billion pounds per annum is wasted on nurses not being able to find the equipment they need.
This can be solved simply by putting IoT-based tracking devices on the items and using a tracking service - with mapping tools, geo-fencing alerts, and proximity-based rules – that tells them exactly where the equipment is.
So much can be done with the data and technology that is already out there today. As Paul said: “Our customers are constantly saying to us: ‘I didn't realize the amount of value digital health services that can be created just by connecting what's already there.’
With our experience in digital health services, you would be well advised to engage Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT in any discussion involving your digital health strategy,” Paul concluded.
To learn more about how to accelerate your development of digital healthcare services with existing assets and IoT by exploiting the power of SAG’s Cumulocity IoT platform, please click below.