IoT Digital Transformation Part 5: Healthcare

IoT and Healthcare
It’s well understood that the applications and implications of IoT and connectivity for healthcare are tremendous.

This is Part 5 of the IoT Digital Transformation series we focus on an area that is impacting all of us and critical for our wellbeing: Healthcare. Part 4 focused on the Digital Transformation (DX) of Financial Services. Part 3 provided several use cases of IoT in Insurance. Part 1 and 2 covered more general IoT DX use cases with Customer Engagement and Field Service transformation.

At the recent CES 2017 there were tens of new and improved IoT connectivity devices for different ages and areas of healthcare.  From wearables to support weight loss, earbuds for measuring body temperature, intelligent toothbrushes, and complete systems for monitoring heart rate, breathing, and activity. One notable example was the Philips’ Avent uGrow – a digital parenting app which can be paired with baby monitors and ear thermometer devices to monitor baby’s health, feeding and sleeping patterns. Just a simple, yet pragmatic, example of connected health for the most precious and vulnerable sector of the population.

It’s well understood that the applications and implications of IoT and connectivity for healthcare are tremendous.  A lot of innovation is happening today and it is not clear yet which of these devices or solutions will survive or thrive. It is impossible to cover the entire span of IoT for Healthcare but here are two examples worth discussing:

  • Wellness Tracking: The market is awash with low-energy sensor devices, such as Fitbit, smart watches and more recently wearables that can monitor heartbeat, temperature, and blood pressure. The data from these devices could be aggregated over time, combined with the knowledge of the best fitness coaches to provide personalized coaching.

    Employers are also providing gamification incentives through corporate wellness programs for to their employees, leveraging connected wearables. There are many practical benefits for this, including healthier employees and lower insurance costs.

  • Seniors Home Healthcare: Baby Boomers are at retirement age and constitute a large percent of the population. As Boomers age, they typically prefer to be in their homes and value healthcare options that allow them to do so.

    Connected monitoring and connected devices, including telecare, are providing tremendous opportunities for remote senior healthcare – and long-term independence. The connectivity solutions include pill reminders, connected tests for glucose management, and intelligent motion detectors for fall detection, irregular movement, or no movement.

These examples pertain primarily to the connected patient and the various services serving them. Now, as in many other “intelligent” infrastructure domain, we are also witnessing the emergence of Intelligent Hospitals. As illustrated here, IoT connectivity has many pragmatic and valuable applications for the overall operation of hospitals. Medical devices can be connected – for precision and speed to improve the patient experience; the hospital’s intelligent building infrastructure may be improved; and overall administrative efficiencies can be optimized.

Ultimately the benefit of connectivity through smart healthcare devices can be achieved only in the context of intelligent and dynamic processes – Let’s discuss.

End-To-End Digitization of Value Streams Making the Difference

Silos, errors in diagnostics, and inconsistencies in patient data are pervasive challenges in the healthcare industry, often with devastating consequences for the patient. To solve these pervasive challenges, two approaches need to be taken. First, the use of outpatient or inpatient wellness monitoring and connectivity become important building blocks. Then, an end-to-end value stream for the patient has to be captured and digitized. The end-to-end value stream connects the patient, his/her data, to primary, secondary, healthcare facility and emergency services. This needs an automated process (workflow) engine to assign tasks and monitor the resolution of a potential emergency care situation. All parties need to have:

  • A consistent and unified view of the patient data
  • Clear prioritized tasks – end-to-end – with monitored service levels

As we have seen in previous posts in the IoT DX series, the real and perhaps most significant value impact of IoT in Healthcare and other sectors is through intelligent processes automated and operationalized within dynamic cases. The “intelligence” emanates from mining the patient and activity data: discovering and operationalizing various types of machine learning artificial intelligence (predictive and adaptive) models. In fact with a Digital Transformation platform, such as Pega, you can combine the experience of the medical knowledge workers (business rules) with the insight that is harvested from medical device data. The insight – from human knowledge or data analytics need to be operationalized in action. The action is realized through automated tasks. The end-to-end digitized value stream could involve the patient, the devices, the primary and secondary care providers, and potentially the intelligent hospital with all the connectivity. Thus both information / patient data as well as process integration and connectivity is realized with connected patients, connected facilities, connected care providers, and connected vehicles.

Check the following for more information on IoT and Healthcare.

In Part 6 we will expand upon IoT Digital Transformation for Utilities!